The Evolution of Infection Prevention and Control during COVID-19
17 Oct 2021
Today is the first day of National Infection Control Week. This week we celebrate and highlight the efforts of infection control professionals across health care settings, and recognize the lengths these individuals have taken to keep us safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health care professionals have long known that Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) is a critical component of safe patient care. COVID-19 has put a spotlight on the importance of IPAC best practices not only during these difficult times, but as general good practice across all care settings as well as in everyday life.
Since March 2020, health care systems around the world have amplified their IPAC efforts in order to reduce the spread of the virus. Following public health guidelines and expert advice, many other settings including schools, workplaces, public transit, and grocery stores have also instilled IPAC principles into their everyday use to protect their patrons.
Transformation of IPAC practices
In response to the pandemic, many health care organizations have transformed the way they provide care in accordance with IPAC best practices. They have created meaningful organizational learning to achieve sustainable change that can advance IPAC practices long-term. While IPAC practices have always been routinely applied in health care settings, the pandemic has placed an emphasis on how important layers of preventative measures such as, mask wearing by all staff, patients, and visitors, environmental cleaning and hand hygiene, improved ventilation systems, and access to reliable personal protective equipment (PPE) and its correct use could be applied to other settings as well.
COVID-19 provided the opportunity to reinforce the importance of implementing and strengthening existing IPAC best-practices, and has likely evolved the role of infection control professionals in health care and congregate living organizations. As IPAC programs and training have expanded to better prepare for future outbreaks and public health emergencies, delivery of care will continue to adapt to fit emerging needs in light of current evidence. The goal moving forward for the IPAC professional will be to return their setting to pre-pandemic IPAC Best Practices.
Infectious diseases evolve, so best practices and the application of infection prevention and control principles must as well.
The pandemic created an increased momentum for improved public knowledge and application of IPAC practices. As a society we are now more aware than ever of its importance in preventing the spread of illness and in keeping our communities healthy. Many of us have gone back to the basics of everyday IPAC practices, and the simple lessons we learned as children – wash your hands often, cover your cough and sneeze, get vaccinated and stay home if you’re sick.