Paul Gentile, MPH, CIC 
Jill Holdsworth, MS, CIC, FAPIC, NREMT, CRCST

Aaron Preston, RN, BSN, CIC
Patty Rider, M.Ed, CIC, CPHQ  
Winta Yallew, MPH 

Emory University Hospital Midtown
Atlanta, GA

Driving Culture Change and Improvement Through Relationships 

The Infection Prevention team at Emory University Hospital Midtown leveraged their diverse, complementary expertise and a relentless focus on relationship-building to enhance perception of the infection prevention and control (IPC) function at their facility and reduce healthcare-associated infection (HAI) rates. 

Two years ago, the newly re-structured Emory Midtown IPC team set a goal to increase both their visibility and their partnership with the hospital’s clinical units. “We needed to change perception of the IPC function and be viewed as partners,” Infection Prevention Manager Jill Holdsworth said.  

Relationship-building became a guiding principle for the department, starting with ensuring that relationships within the IPC team were strong. As the first non-nurse infection preventionist at Emory, Holdsworth saw value in a diverse IPC team and sought candidates with a variety of backgrounds. All team members participated in interviews to ensure new hires would be a good fit, and the resulting team works exceptionally well together. 

This relationship-focused approach was applied to the broader organization as well. The IPC team conducts daily rounding on all units, actively engaging with front-line team members. “You need to be on the floor every day, even if it’s just for staff to see you,” Paul Gentile said.  

The team created an HAI-focused multi-disciplinary steering committee with IPC team members and nurses co-leading specific HAI reduction groups. These groups develop and implement standardized, apparent-cause HAI analysis templates to identify common failure modes and implement corresponding, targeted interventions. 

Over the past two years, Emory Midtown has achieved significant HAI reductions, including a 50 percent decrease in catheter-associated urinary tract infections. Importantly, the organizational perspective on the IPC function has also improved significantly. 

“This team changed the entire culture of how the hospital views the IPC program,” Emory Healthcare’s Infection Prevention Program Director Kari Love said.