The role of LeConte Medical Center’s infection preventionist (IP) is always important, leading the efforts to prevent infection in the hospital and keeping our patients safe. Infection prevention initiatives include hand washing, employee education related to safety and infection control, sharing best practices and tracking improvements in performance.
This year, International Infection Prevention Week has a special meaning as our infection preventionist, DeEtta Shaffer, BSN, RN, CIC, has been our hospital’s key point person throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past several months, DeEtta has gone above and beyond to help our hospital provide the best and safest care to our community.
In observance of International Infection Prevention Week Oct. 18-24, DeEtta shares the importance of infection prevention below.
How long have you worked at LeConte Medical Center and how long have you worked in infection prevention?
I started working for LeConte Medical Center in December 2019 after relocating here from Florida. I have been working in infection prevention for the last 15+ years and have been Board Certified in Infection Prevention for the last 10+ years.
Why are you passionate about infection prevention?
As a little girl I always wanted to be a nurse, I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives even if in a small way. Early on, I found that I enjoyed using my detective skills by working with the entire healthcare team to make sure the best practices and evidenced based guidelines were in place and being performed appropriately to stop the spread of infection and communicable disease.
Tell me about you role at LeConte Medical Center and what you do in a day?
Patient and staff safety is my number one priority so my day consists of various ways to work with the entire healthcare team in preventing infections.
How has your role in preventing infections in a hospital setting shifted due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge due to the rapid changing guidance that happens anytime a new highly contagious bacteria/virus emerges. Ensuring we have the best practices and evidence-based guidelines in place to halt the spread of viruses and bacteria is important to patient and staff safety. I am fortunate to work with a great team who work hard to put the care and safety of patients and staff first.
What are steps people can take to protect themselves from COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases as we enter cold and flu season?
By practicing these simple steps you can help protect yourselves and your loved ones from COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses such as the common cold and flu:
- Wash your hands or use alcohol based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with dirty hands.
- Social distancing – try to maintain 6 feet distance between yourself and others.
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Never cough in your hand. If you do not have a tissue use the inside of your elbow.
- Wear a face covering that is clean and covers your nose and mouth; washing daily between uses.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
- Monitor your health daily, get your rest and stay at home when you are not feeling well.
- Make sure you are up-to-date on all your vaccinations (remember the flu vaccine is required every year).