Personal experience helps craft goal to eliminate hospital-acquired infections.
Doing the right thing for someone you love is powerful motivation. For Dale Haselden, Director of Infection Prevention for HCA’s South Atlantic Division, that someone is her daughter, Rachel, who faced health problems as a child, a few of which caused serious infections.
“When patients come to hospitals, they trust us with their lives, and without meaning to, some hospitals do things that can put some patients at risk of infection,” Haselden says. “People used to think that was sort of an unfortunate consequence of being in the hospital — that some infection was inevitable — but it’s not. Having gone through it with my daughter, I have that passion for protecting our patients.”
Originally, Haselden studied clinical microbiology and “sort of fell accidentally into infection prevention,” eventually becoming certified in infection control. After 27 years at HCA, she says it’s a job that requires knowing a little bit about everything that goes on within the hospital: environmental factors, construction projects, clinical practices. It takes big-picture thinking, which is why the South Atlantic Division tapped Haselden in 2016 to head up their efforts to find and implement infection prevention strategies across the division and, ultimately, contribute to system wide success.
“When I started, there were no federal requirements to report infections, and now that’s such a big part of this area of specialization,” Haselden explains. “With the TheraDoc system, we have robust surveillance, but it is very labor intensive and can tie staff to computers. We want staff to be out in the facility interacting with and educating staff, as well as patients and families, so that’s a big focus of my new role.”
Focus: Getting to zero
The plan is to streamline the staff’s reporting burden, making it more efficient, while ensuring it meets or exceeds mandatory reporting requirements. Implementing these changes requires many tactics, everything from staff education to mentoring to streamlining documentation, all areas in which Haselden gained experience during her decades-long tenure at Trident Medical Center.
“The reporting structure seems to get more complex every year, and there are a lot of things to keep your eyes on,” she says. “But our bottom line is to make sure our patients are well taken care of, and that we have the resources to do our jobs well, which HCA provides. We focus on quality, are provided with abundant resources, and if I have challenges or questions, I can rely plenty of colleagues I can call upon to help figure out how to solve a problem or do my job better.”
That support system is critical, especially when the goals are as massive as HCA’s. According to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control, hospital-acquired infections are attributable for approximately 75,000 patient deaths each year, and HCA wants to make that number zero.
“Our focus is zero infections for our patients,” she says. “My passion is making sure we prevent these infections, and I get so much satisfaction from seeing our numbers improve and knowing we’ve taken care of our patients.”
Dale Haselden is director of infection prevention in HCA’s South Atlantic Division.