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Influential Nurses from National Nurses United Join CDC’s Infection Control Advisory Committee

National Nurses United (NNU), the biggest union of registered nurses across the United States, proudly announces that its chief industrial hygienist, Jane Thomason, has been invited to join the influential Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) workgroup, functioning under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This inclusion represents a significant milestone in integrating varied expertise into the functioning of HICPAC.

In the same vein, Lisa Baum, a lead occupational safety and health representative from the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), an affiliate of NNU, has also received an invitation to form part of HICPAC. These introductions come at a crucial time as HICPAC is currently proceeding with updates to the CDC’s Isolation Precactions guidance, a reference document that informs infection control and prevention measures across hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings both domestically and around the globe.

For an extended period, the NNU has been vocal in its insistence on diversifying the specialties within the rather homogeneous HICPAC workgroup, which largely consists of infection control staff from large hospital systems. The union has argued for the inclusion of aerosol transmission scientists and front-line healthcare workers to bring forward a more comprehensive approach in understanding and combating healthcare-associated infections.

Undoubtedly, this welcomed change is seen as a significant advancement for nurses and various other healthcare professionals. The inclusion of NNU and NYSNA enables them to contribute to shaping policies that directly affect healthcare workers and patients. The front-line experiences of their members are invaluable in understanding infection prevention strategies comprehensively.

The past activities of HICPAC have copped criticism for sidelining essential expertise and inadvertently weakening the protective measures for healthcare workers and patients. However, the inclusion of labor, occupational health, and industrial hygiene perspectives can change this narrative, ensuring that healthcare projects are informed by robust, science-backed guidelines that prioritize the health and safety of both workers and patients.

Nevertheless, NNU continues to hold reservations regarding the current draft infection control guidelines proposed by HICPAC. In addition to advocating for aerosol transmission recognition, they insist on reinforced CDC infection control guidelines, as it’s evident from meeting summaries obtained through information requests.

The NNU’s campaign for better infection control commenced on July 10, 2023, with a letter submitted to the CDC director outlining concerns about the possible undermining of the CDC’s guidance for infection control in healthcare settings. Since then, a flurry of letters, petitions, and activities have followed to raise awareness and lobby for the inclusion of multiple perspectives in the workgroup.

The complex journey, characterized by ongoing exchanges with the CDC and HICPAC, reached notable milestones in early 2024. On May 6, Lisa Baum received an invitation to join HICPAC, followed by Jane Thomason on May 10. These developments reflect progress towards more inclusive representation in infection control policymaking, giving a genuine voice to frontline healthcare workers and their experiences.

The National Nurses United Union, with a membership totaling nearly 225,000, is the United States’ largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of registered nurses. As a primary influencer in the field, NNU continues to stand committed to training and providing essential support to its members towards an organized and efficient healthcare system.


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