Sandi Noble, Infection Control Practice Leader
West Park’s Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) department is one of the hospital's busiest - its team members working tirelessly on all things pandemic related.
Though the team is small with just six members, it is fierce in its efforts to contain and prevent infections and outbreaks of a disease no one has seen before. While hospitals and healthcare workers around the province, country, and world struggle to keep up with constantly changing guidelines and information, the IPAC team at West Park works around the clock on the frontline with staff and infected patients.
“Nothing could have prepared us or our staff for the magnitude of this pandemic,” says Sandi Noble, Infection Control Practice Leader. “Never in our lifetime have we seen something to this extent.”
One of the department’s most crucial jobs was to educate staff on how to best handle a novel virus, something that proved challenging as public health guidance and recommendations have evolved over the course of the pandemic.
“The early days were a struggle; we didn’t have as much information because it was so new,” Noble says. “This changed everything. All the basic IPAC measures we already stress – hand hygiene, personal protective equipment, isolation precautions – became much more critical.”
The unprecedented challenges didn’t stop the IPAC team from doing the best they could with the information provided; IPAC staff are on the units whenever there is a positive case or an urgent question. They have remained on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help deal with infected patients and staff, patient contact tracing, and following up on all Public Health lab results.
Despite the challenges and ongoing hurdles, the department finds satisfaction in answering staff questions, alleviating stress among patients and staff, and working with clinical staff to prevent and end outbreaks.
“Keeping the number of infected patients and staff low has been a huge accomplishment, and we thank our nursing and clinical staff for that,” Noble says. “We’re also just so appreciative of our manager, Gulzar Karmali (Manager, Pharmacy & IPAC). She’s stayed so calm during the evolving pandemic, so dedicated and has been a tremendous leader. Faced with tremendous challenge, we all rose to it.”