What COVID-19's early days were like for infection preventionists

A collection of diarylike survey responses from infection preventionists nationwide highlights the long hours and stress faced during the pandemic's early days.

The findings are based on responses from 52 infection prevention leaders from 16 states. Respondents completed 14 rounds of surveys between March 8 and July 15, 2020.  

Four things to know:

1. Infection preventionists reported working an average of 68 hours per week in March and 51 hours in April. "This week has seemed like [six] months shoved into a [seven]-day period," one response read.

2. The survey also showed how some front-line medical workers lacked knowledge of basic infection prevention practices. "Lots of people [IPs] were shocked that they [staff] didn't know how to properly remove PPE," another response read.

3. Personal protective equipment shortages were a common concern for infection preventionists early in the pandemic, according to the survey.

"I'm included at the decision-making table, but nobody will listen to me as an IP. I’m just there to listen to them," one leader wrote. "They are refusing to cancel elective surgeries, and I fear we will be out of gloves in [a] month when this pandemic peak[s] and there will be no gloves for emergent surgeries."

4. Despite these challenges, infection preventionists have "never before felt as validated as professionals," Tania Bubb, PhD, RN, director of infection control at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, said in the news release.

Dr. Bubb analyzed the survey results and presented them June 30 at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology's virtual annual conference.


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