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Cathy Rebmann, MPH; Barbara Edson, RN, MBA, MHA; and Linda Dickey, RN, MPH, CIC, address facility managers about the built environment's role in infection control at the ASHE Annual Conference and Technical Exhibition.

Health care facility managers and the built environment have a significant impact on infection prevention efforts. That was the message at today’s general session of the American Society for Healthcare Engineers (ASHE) Annual Conference and Technical Exhibition.

Today’s speakers included Linda Dickey, R.N., MPH, CIC, University of California Irvine Health; Barbara Edson, R.N., MBA, MHA, the American Hospital Association’s Health Research & Educational Trust; and Cathy Rebmann, MPH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The presenters discussed a three-year national project focused on reducing health care-associated infections. ASHE has been involved in the project by providing input on six infection prevention topics related to the built environment. These topics will be addressed in the chapters of a new CDC document slated to be published in March. The chapters include:

  • Infection Control Risk Assessment
  • Hand-hygiene Infrastructure
  • Reprocessing
  • Cleaning of Environmental Surfaces
  • Water-related Environmental Infection Control
  • Flow of Patients, Personnel and Equipment

They are currently in the 23rd month of the 36-month project, and as they reflect on lessons learned, partnerships that cross clinical and nonclinical lines clearly were an integral part of the overall strategy to reduce health care-associated infections.

For instance, Dickey recalls working with the facility manager of UC Irvine Health to learn more about plumbing systems and how the infrastructure design of a system can either help or hurt in the effort to prevent Legionella from growing.

“We need an intersection between those who are clinical and those who are not,” Dickey says. “And [we need to] look at how we can learn from one another and where those risks emerge. We have to have strong working relationships and partnership to keep patients safe.”

Today’s conference also includes the Codes and Standards Lounge that is open until 1:45 p.m. and breakout sessions such as updates from the Joint Commission, DNV GL Healthcare. Late afternoon sessions will address such topics as retrocommissioning, and managing outpatient facilities and medical office buildings.

If you missed yesterday’s sessions, read our recap of Day 1 and come back tomorrow for our ASHE Annual wrapup.