A 60-second interview with Deborah Burdsall, Ph.D., RN-BC, CIC, co-author, “Recommendations for Balancing Patient Safety and Pandemic Response: A Call to Action”

Q: Among the March recommendations from APIC, you specifically called for every U.S. nursing home to have a “dedicated” infection prevention expert. Why?

A: It is an interdisciplinary role and a separate profession. If you’re a director of nursing or assistant director of nursing and you’re trying to deal with [IPC job challenges], in addition to all of the components of a mature infection prevention and control program, it’s frustrating.

Q:What else has to happen to be better prepared moving forward? 

A: Evidence shows that infection preventionists working in these facilities are generally not as well equipped as their acute-care counterparts. To prepare for the next pandemic, while limiting the spread of healthcare-associated infections, long-term care facilities should dedicate more staff time and appropriate resources to supporting IPC to maintain safety for patients and employees.

Q:What advice do you give to those overwhelmed by changing infection prevention strategies? 

A: The pandemic requires a new approach. We need to be doing something different. The tools are out there, and there is support. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, you just have to reach out.