How 1 hospital leader secured more clinical staff, drove down HAIs

While many hospitals were trimming budgets and enforcing hiring freezes, infection prevention manager Luz Caicedo successfully doubled her department's workforce at AdventHealth Celebration (Fla.) hospital. 

When she joined the 217-bed hospital in 2019, there were two full-time equivalent infection preventionists, according to a June 4 news release from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. AdventHealth Celebration was then expanding to accommodate 357 beds, though, and it was adding more operating rooms, catheterization labs, interventional radiology, endoscopy and ambulatory sites.

Already understaffed, Ms. Caicedo secured buy-in from hospital leaders to hire another infection preventionist to focus on lowering surgical site infections. When SSI rates decreased, executives approved more hires. 

Between 2019 and 2023, AdventHealth Celebration's infection prevention team grew from two to 4.8 full-time equivalent employees. Thanks to Ms. Caicedo's advocacy efforts and the extra staff, the hospital noted a 37% decrease in central-line associated bloodstream infections and a 45% decrease in healthcare-onset C. difficile infections between 2019 and 2023. 

The larger department required a career ladder and diversified roles, so Ms. Caicedo designed a system that increased retention and created pathways for non-clinical workers to enter the field, the news release said. The infection team has since built dashboards to track device rounds, launched a catheter-associated urinary tract infection bootcamp and worked with lab staff to lower blood culture contamination rates.

"The work that the AdventHealth IPC team is undertaking and the success they have achieved would be impossible without proper staffing," Tania Bubb, PhD, 2024 APIC president, said in the release. "Their success is a testament to the support received from hospital leaders and also to Luz's ability to demonstrate that investment in infection prevention can impact the whole facility."

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