Qasim Mohiuddin
Qasim Mohiuddin, an infection control practitioner at UHN for about three years, says "there's never a dull moment" on the job. (Photo: Courtesy Qasim Mohiuddin)

From isolating patients who may be an infection risk and tracking hand hygiene compliance, to consulting on new construction and renovation projects and reporting to Toronto Public Health and the province, UHN's 25-member Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) team is a key part of Caring Safely.

As part of National Infection Control Week, which runs through Friday, Oct. 19, UHN's IPAC team is out to prove that "knowledge sharing can be infectious" – offering a glimpse at the key work they do daily.

This year's theme is "Beyond Borders."

National Infection Control Week
October 15-19, 2018

Nationally, Infection Prevention and Control Canada, a multidisciplinary, professional organization for those in the prevention and control of infections, says: "There are no borders to the continuum of care.

"All departments and healthcare disciplines must be concerned about infection prevention and control," the organization says. "Throughout the world, all countries have a part to play in a safe healthcare environment.

"This includes antibiotic stewardship plans and involvement in global responses to emerging diseases or outbreaks."

At UHN, the IPAC team is marking the week by spotlighting some of its members.

'Never a dull moment'

Qasim Mohiuddin, a registered nurse by training, has been an infection control practitioner (ICP) at UHN for about three years with experience in General Internal Medicine, surgery, cardiac, emergency and intensive care (ICU). He provides IPAC coverage at Toronto Western Hospital and Toronto General Hospital, covering the Emergency Department, the Medical Surgical Intensive Care Unit, psychiatry, and hemodialysis.

"There's never a dull moment in Infection Control," Qasim says. "Whether it's the typical run-of the-mill isolation or unique occurrences such as emerging infectious disease/vaccine preventable diseases, we've learned to adapt to the changing IPAC landscape to ensure patients are kept safe."

Qasim starts his day starts by reviewing all isolated patients under his portfolio and collecting relevant clinical information needed to reassess an isolation status. He then liaises with members of the clinical team as needed, and ultimately determines if isolation can be safely discontinued, something only ICPs can do.

Isolations can pose a barrier to both the patient and staff providing care, especially in fast-paced environments such as Emergency and ICU.

Like all ICPs, Qasim must always walk a fine line when making patient isolation decisions – considering not only the isolated patient's safety but the safety of all patients and staff.

Aside from this, Qasim is involved in unit and organizational based education, and IPAC quality improvement projects for his portfolio, and for UHN, that puts patient and staff safety at the forefront while balancing financial and patient flow implications. The material costs associated with personal protective equipment (PPE) and costs of maintaining an isolation room (bed costs and environmental services costs) can add up. Also, patients who require isolation are often placed in single rooms which can put pressure on available beds for patients.

Team members visiting units this week

At UHN, IPAC coverage extends to at all three hospital acute care sites and all four Toronto Rehab sites.

In addition, there's an IPAC construction team that consults on new construction and renovation projects and planning, as well as ongoing consultation on active project sites across UHN. Two epidemiologists help track hand hygiene compliance and report important quality indicators to Toronto Public Health and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

IPAC at UHN also has an important educational component, welcoming infectious disease fellows and Public Health students who work on various exciting projects in the department. The expertise ranges from Public Health, Nursing, and Microbiology to Medical Lab Technology, Education, Quality Improvement, Construction/Project Management, and Surveillance Technology.

This week, IPAC members will be stopping by units this week to chat with staff about any concerns they may have and quiz UHN personnel – they might even offer some prizes.

If you see an ICP roaming around the halls this week, please say hello. They would love to share what they do and answer any questions you may have because – "Knowledge sharing can be infectious!"

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