Publish date: 4 January 2023

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2023 is here and coughs colds, flu and Covid are back in the news, so we thought we’d have a chat with Mandie Jarvis, our Infection Prevention and Control Clinical Practitioner, who joined us at DHU almost two years ago.

As our Infection Control lead and (as you can see from the photo) the Regional Infection Control Lead for St John Ambulance as well, she has had an incredibly busy 2022 dealing with changing Covid guidance and of course, the current staff flu vaccination campaign.

We thought it would be a good time to find out how she’s managed it and here’s what she told us…

“I joined DHU Healthcare from University Hospitals Leicester on January 2021 where I was an Infection Control Nurse. Prior to that I was an ITU Nurse at Glenfield where I picked up the IC link role to deliver training, I was there for around eight years. I’ve dealt with H1N1(Swine Flu), Ebola, Covid, Monkey Pox and everything in between. There is always a new challenge just around the corner but for a lot of the situations it comes down to basics, or what I really mean is the essentials.

The basics are the essentials

“Things like clinicians being bare below the elbow, nothing hung over shoulders such as an ID badge, necklace or stethoscope, cleaning hands before and after patient contact, reducing desk clutter and cleaning surfaces between appointments. It is basic but if they aren’t being done then infection can spread so, for me, they are essentials that provide a solid foundation upon which we can build excellent care for our patients and a healthy, strong workforce.

“It’s all about patient care, safety and pointing out moments where we don’t adhere to this. I’m pleased to say that our outbreak levels are very low which means that, on the whole, we do these essentials well. People care enough to give it attention and, as we work across a large geographical area and multiple sites, it’s hard to police so we rely on each other and our colleagues to point out and highlight any areas of improvement.

“We have been working very hard to vaccinate as many of our colleagues against seasonal flu as possible to ensure we are doing what we can to protect our workforce. For the first time since the pandemic started, we are seeing more hospital admissions with flu than Covid and it can cause very similar problems. We are talking potential complications for women during pregnancy, those with underlying health conditions and we’re seeing it affect younger people more.

We can all play our part to prevent infection

“The vaccine is there to prevent the spread and as health professionals, we have the potential to come into contact with patients with flu, particularly due to this year’s prevalence. Think about children at school and how they spread germs, as a parent you are vulnerable to that. Or how exposed you are to airborne bacteria such as flu whilst out shopping, in the cinema, on the train or bus. It’s impossible to avoid an invisible threat but the vaccine gives you exactly that protection.

“My time working as an ITU nurse in Glenfield opened my eyes to the age ranges of people experiencing complications from flu and it’s not restricted to the elderly. Just as Covid affected people of all ages, so can the flu and many of the myths such as catching flu from the vaccine, natural immunity or not being able to have it whilst pregnant simply aren’t true and can be very harmful. For me it’s about education and I would happily speak to anyone about what we do in infection control or about vaccinations to explain why it is vital to our health services both in terms of keeping patients safe and keeping our workforce strong.

“I love my job as an infection control lead and passionate about what I’m trying to do but it is a process and by embedding those essentials, creating that solid foundation of a barrier against infection is the first step. We’re on the way to achieving that through education, conversation, being visible and sensible in our approach. I like it when people come to me with questions, that’s when I know I’m doing my job and that people understand how important it is.”

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