This year, the role of the Infection Preventionist (IP) has become more important, and some may say more trying, than ever. With the introduction of the novel coronavirus, everyone is looking to these professionals for answers on how we can protect ourselves and our communities from spread of the virus. While they have been pivotal assets in managing different type of outbreaks around the world, the magnitude of the current pandemic has presented unique challenges.
We spoke with Nyree Sampson, BSN, RN, Infection Preventionist at Stein Assisted Living about how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted her work, and how her certification has enabled her to assist our senior community.
Wilf Campus: What is your background in nursing? And in infection prevention?
Nyree: Nursing is my second career. I went back to school to obtain my nursing license when my son was very young. I have over 11 years of mental health and medical nursing experience. I began working as a psychiatric and substance abuse nurse with adolescents during my first three years of nursing, then transitioned to adult and older adult care thereafter. During my time working with the adult and elderly population, I held positions as a direct care nurse, supervisor and recently unit director at Carrier Clinic. Most recently, I was assistant director of nursing (ADON) from 2018-2019 at a Long-Term Care Facility. I completed my training and received my CDC Infection Preventionist certification in December 2019, coincidently prior to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, and I have worked in the infection control field ever since.
Wilf Campus: How did you become interested in this specialty?
Nyree: While working as an ADON, some of my responsibilities included infection control policies and protocol implementation and education. Since I absolutely love being a mentor and working hands on with my staff and residents, I decided to continue my nursing education and career in infection prevention.
Wilf Campus: Can you tell us a bit about what your day to day looks like?
Nyree: My day-to-day work as an IP ranges from creating and implementing infection control policies and providing staff and resident education. I complete system surveillances to identify possible communicable diseases or infections before they can spread to other persons in the facility. I also provide accurate infection data and trends to staff members and complete consultation on infection risk assessments to help prevent and control the spread of infections in our facility.
Wilf Campus: What is something you’ve learned during your time in the field?
Nyree: During my time as nurse, ADON and currently Infection Preventionist, I have learned to be more patient and adaptive to the changes occurring with infection control practices. The practice of standard precautions against transmission-based diseases is evolving more now than ever before. Infection control processes have always been a part of everything we do in our day-to-day lifestyle. Transmission-based precautions must be practiced across the continuum of care.
Wilf Campus: Do you feel that as an IP, you need to have a certain type of relationship with the staff?
Nyree: Yes, I believe you must have a certain type of relationship with your staff. You must be a type of educator that your employees look up to, respect and trust. As an IP you also should be receptive, outgoing, patient and understanding. I mention understanding because if you are a type of person who does not put yourself in your staff’s shoes, so to speak, you will not be able to explain the process to them accurately and/or they will feel you are simply talking at them and not conversing with them. Infection Preventionist or any educator must also allow staff the opportunity to ask questions. An explanation of why the protocol is implemented and carried out the way it was created must be given on everyone’s individual intellectual level as well.
Wilf Campus: How has infection prevention changed for you (if at all) during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Nyree: IP has changed me during the COVID-19 pandemic in a way that it taught me to be even more diligent with my infection control process, not only at work but at home as well. It is one thing for an IP to teach the procedures to their staff and residents, but it is another thing if the IP specialist does not follow through with the same protocols. If you ask anyone who knows me, they will tell you I am always the one who follows policies and regulations, especially those that pertain to protecting my residents and staff. But now with the COVID-19 outbreak I have, and we all should, take extra infection control precautions to protect ourselves and everyone around us.
Wilf Campus: What’s it like having to balance IP for staff vs. IP for residents? Is the training different and in what ways?
Nyree: Balancing training for staff and residents is interesting to me because I enjoy every second of it. We all, no matter our background or age bracket, have heard or been taught how to complete an infection control task. There are so many examples of completing the same task, sometimes we question which one is the most effective or even correct.
I believe no matter who my audience is when I am teaching or demonstrating a topic, I always meet them where they are and provide the information to them in a way they can understand and follow steps most accurately.
My teaching strategy does vary depending on my audience, staff or resident, as sometimes find I might need to speak in a slower-paced manner, a little louder due them being hard of hearing or mandate them to demonstrate the task(s) if applicable; but to me it really doesn’t matter if the person is a resident or staff member because I always meet them where they are intellectually and find out what they know about the topic during the education session. This allows me to provide the information in a way that will ensure comprehension and competency. I also encourage the resident and staff to ask questions during the training, and the information I gather helps me to complete my evidence-based research on the topic and improve my teaching technique.
Wilf Campus: Thank you, Nyree. We are happy to have you at Stein Assisted Living and the Wilf Campus!
Nyree: It is great working here. I really love the friendly and family environment. The residents are absolutely a pleasure to care for and the administration and employee staff has been very welcoming. Everyone here works together as team and really try their best to provide to most safe and healthy care possible for all our residents.
Stein Assisted Living is committed to providing personalized assisted living support in a pleasant, homelike environment to Jewish seniors and other older adults in central New Jersey. For more information on Stein Assisted Living and its services, please call 732-586-1155, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or click the following link www.wilfcampus.org/assisted-living