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The Crucial Role of Surveillance and Forward-Facing Strategies – Chris Zirges

Chris Zirges, the System Director of Infection Prevention at SSM Health, delves into the critical facets of infection prevention in a profound interview that sheds light on the evolving landscape within the healthcare sector. Her extensive experience and insightful perspectives provide a compelling narrative about the importance of surveillance, reporting, and the transformation of roles within infection prevention.

With a strong belief in the significance of infection prevention, Chris underscores the evolution of roles within the profession. She reflects on her early experiences, emphasizing the value of hands-on engagement and the indispensable nature of environmental care rounds. Chris elucidates on the pivotal role played by frontline observation and engagement, reminiscent of the traditional ‘shoe leather epidemiology’ approach, where IPs actively interacted on the floor, identifying risks, patterns, and opportunities for improvement.

Expressing a concern for a shift away from this forward-facing role due to retiring cohorts of CDC-trained IPs, Chris advocates for a resurgence of this engagement. She emphasizes the criticality of active observation and engagement, highlighting how these practices foster crucial connections between implementations, observations on the floor, and the identification of potential gaps or risks within the healthcare system.

Chris Zirges’ insights illuminate the essence of hands-on engagement and observation within infection prevention. Her advocacy for reinstating forward-facing roles and fostering a culture of active observation resonates profoundly in an era witnessing a shift towards more surveillance-oriented practices. Her vision for better surveillance systems and a return to a robust engagement model stands as a testament to the foundational principles that underpin the efficacy of infection prevention strategies.

This interview with Chris Zirges offers a compelling narrative, highlighting the importance of returning to an approach that prioritizes direct engagement, observations, and active participation in infection prevention—a paradigm that remains vital for the continuous improvement of healthcare systems.

For more insights from leaders in the field, stay tuned to Voice for Infection Prevention.

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