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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Project Firstline program provides all healthcare workers – no matter their role or educational background – the infection control training and resources they need to protect themselves, their patients, and their coworkers from infectious diseases.
Now in its third year, Project Firstline is made up of a diverse group of more than 20 healthcare, public health, and academic partners, as well as state and local territorial health departments.
In collaboration with the National Hispanic Medical Association, Salud America! is one of those partners.
To support Project Firstline and our fellow partners, we’re spotlighting impressive infection control resources that are culturally tailored to diverse audiences.
Today, we’re exploring episode 2 of The National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH)’s Native Healthcast, a podcast promoting infection prevention and control education topics for frontline healthcare workers who serve American Indian and Alaska Native patients.
Recognizing Infection Control Risks
Hosted by Vickie Oldman, an American Indian podcaster, episode 2 of NCUIH’s Native Healthcast opens with an interview with Karen Kwok, a public health-trained family nurse practitioner and subject matter expert for NCUIH’s Technical Assistance and Research Center (TARC).
Kwok, who has worked in healthcare for over 20 years, explained how germs have more pathways to spread in healthcare settings than everyday community settings, such as a grocery store.
She also emphasized the importance of recognizing and minimizing infection control risks in healthcare settings to protect both patients and frontline workers.
“It’s not just the patients who are at risk,” Kwok said. “If there is a breakdown in the body’s defenses, even a healthy healthcare worker could be at risk [for an infection].”
Therefore, it’s important for all healthcare workers to know and practice basic infection control strategies, such as proper hand hygiene and wearing appropriate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) when necessary, to reduce the risk of germs spreading.
Kwok offered this advice to healthcare workers: “Look at where germs live and their common reservoirs. In healthcare, these include the body, whether that be on or in the gut, skin, the respiratory tract, the blood, or in the environment.”
Next, Kwok said, think about the pathways for germs to spread and cause infection, such as through touch, inhalation, and by bypassing or breaking down the body’s skin barrier, like through the setup of an IV.
Kwok recommends that healthcare workers continually ask themselves the following questions to help recognize risk and apply proper infection control actions:
- Where do germs live?
- What are some pathways for germs to spread?
- What are other actions I can take to help stop the spread of germs and prevent infections?
As COVID-19 variants continue to emerge, Kwok also advised healthcare workers “not to lose steam” and remain vigilant in cleaning and disinfection practices.
“It’s our duty to protect not only our patients, but our staff, too, so that our community stays safe,” she said.
CDC Project Firstline Resources
Host Vickie Oldman introduces the second guest for episode 2 of NCUIH’s Native Healthcast, Marie Zephier, who is a Project ECHO (Expansion of Community Healthcare Outcomes) facilitator and subject matter expert with over 15 years of experience in tribal health equity.
Project ECHO was created by NCUIH to help Urban Indian Organizations (UIOs) address infection control challenges through individualized Project Firstline materials.
“Project Firstline has so many materials that are adaptable and can really fit the needs of both the individual and UIOs,” Zephier said. “For example, they have social media messages that somebody could post on their page, and they have interactive trainings where somebody who’s not even an infection control specialist can provide [infection control] materials because those trainings come with a facilitator’s guide.”
Zephier wraps up the interview encouraging the use of Project Firstline materials because they help healthcare warriors provide the best patient care while protecting themselves and colleagues from infectious diseases.
What Can You Do to Promote Infection Control in Your Healthcare Setting?
Help keep yourself, your colleagues, and your patients safe from infectious disease threats, such as COVID-19, by building on your infection control knowledge!
To show your dedication, sign this pledge to complete an infection control training or activity through CDC’s Project Firstline!
You can also share infection control training opportunities with healthcare colleagues via LinkedIn with our Project Firstline social media toolkit.
You can access more information about infection prevention and control in healthcare by visiting resources from CDC Project Firstline.
Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio is working with the National Hispanic Medical Association to bring Project Firstline infection control educational content to healthcare workers, so they are equipped with the knowledge they need to protect themselves, their facilities, and their patients (Latinos and all communities) from infectious disease threats in healthcare settings.
Check out some of the articles from this partnership:
- What is Project Firstline?
- What is the Goal of Infection Prevention and Control in Healthcare Settings?
- What’s a Virus?
- What is Ventilation and Why Does It Matter?
- Contact Time: What is It and How Does it Impact Infection Control?
- The Surprising Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfection
- What’s a Respiratory Droplet and Why Does It Matter?
- We Need to Talk about Hand Hygiene Again
- Why are Gowns, Gloves, and Eye Protection Recommended for COVID-19?
Check out some of the Latino healthcare workers who are heroes for infection control:
- Anna Valdez: Tackling Infection Control with Education from Classroom to Clinic
- Wanda Montalvo: Preventing Infections in Community Health Centers, Latino Communities
- Ricardo Correa: Endocrinologist and Infection Control Leader for the Latino Community
Editor’s Note: This article is part of a collaboration between Salud America!, the National Hispanic Medical Association, and the CDC’s Project Firstline. To find resources training materials, and other tools to bolster knowledge and practice of infection control, visit Project Firstline and view Salud America!’s infection control content.