Patient Safety Authority

Relationship Building Improves Infection Prevention Statewide

JoAnn Adkins, BSN, RN, CIC, FAPIC
Terri Lee Roberts, BSN, RN, CIC, FAPIC
Patient Safety Authority
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

JoAnn Adkins and Terri Lee Roberts are professional partners who serve as expert consultants and skilled educators to the more than 1,200 healthcare facilities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The first infection preventionists (IPs) hired by Pennsylvania’s Patient Safety Authority, Adkins and Roberts were charged with a monumental task: improve patient safety in Pennsylvania by initiating, developing, implementing and monitoring new and existing infection prevention initiatives. The pair serve as expert resources to healthcare facilities, conduct on-site visits to identify improvement opportunities, assist in the development of action plans, and provide education at the facility and statewide levels.

To determine their priorities, Adkins and Roberts rely on data from statewide reporting, as well as Pennsylvania’s Healthcare-Associated Infection Advisory Panel. “The panel helps us understand issues from the field and identify educational needs,” said Roberts.

In 2015, Adkins and Roberts began hosting Long-Term Care Infection Prevention Symposia. “Long-term care doesn’t have the same resources as acute care hospitals,” said Roberts. “They leave the Symposia with more confidence and with support from their peers.” Along with providing education, the Symposia encourage long-term care facilities to develop relationships with their local hospitals. “We emphasize that they need to work together for the betterment of the community,” said Adkins.

The Authority’s IPs also developed and led a long-term care antibiotic stewardship collaborative, inviting facilities with high rates of urinary tract infections (UTIs). The 25 facilities that completed the collaborative reduced new antibiotic ordering for UTIs by nearly 31 percent from baseline, vastly exceeding their goal of 10 percent.

Adkins and Roberts say relationship building has been pivotal to their programs and success.  “We’ve worked hard to build our relationships with facilities and their relationships with each other,” said Roberts.