Sophie Labrecque, MSc, RN, CIC
Lynda Mack, MSN, RN, CCRN, CIC
Moira Quinn, BSN, RN, CIC
Georgetta Rinck, MPH, RN, CIC
Teresa Rowland, BSN, RN
Rita Sussner, BSN, RN, CIC
Pioneering New IPC Technology
The Westchester Medical Center (WMC) Infection Prevention and Control team adopted and integrated a first-of-its-kind infection prevention and control (IPC) technology, leading the way for transformation of current IPC surveillance and practice.
Responding to a request from New York Medical College, the five-person WMC team provided patient samples to fuel development of the first adaptive-intelligence, genomic-based platform for identifying and mitigating healthcare-associated infections. Once the tool was created, the team worked diligently to integrate it into the IPC workflow at their 652-bed network hospital.
“This visionary team was the first to advance genomics for pathogen monitoring from the research world into real-world IPC practice,” said Mary M. Fortunato-Habib, an APIC member and clinical director at Philips Medical Systems, which supported the app development. “They’ve also benefited the entire infection prevention field by disseminating their knowledge through publications and presentations.”
The new app looks at culture isolates genetically, compares them consistently across time and hospital location, and alerts staff to any possible clusters. Users can, as the WMC team did, apply the genomic analysis to assess potential transmission routes and explore underlying causes through analysis and investigation.
“It’s very difficult to realize there’s a cluster in your facility if you’re not looking for it,” Rita Sussner, WMC’s Director of Infection Control, said. “This tool helps us see the facility as a whole to identify patterns.”
Integrating the new app into the existing hospital IT system and workflows required a multidisciplinary approach, many hours, and an education in pathogen genomics.
“We had to learn what it means to look at these organisms genetically. It was a different way of thinking,” Sussner said. “We were excited, though, to know more about our infection clusters. And this tool really helps validate our team’s work and the importance of our interventions.”