In 2011/2012, Fraser Health experienced the highest Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) rate in its history, with 11.5 cases per 10,000 patient days. In response, the organization committed to restructuring its Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Program and developing a comprehensive program to protect patients. This program has been hugely successful, due to the leadership of Elizabeth Brodkin, who was appointed as the Executive Medical Director for the IPC team in 2012.
Over the past five years, Elizabeth has led the evolution of the IPC team from a site-based acute care program to a robust regional program, and growing it from 20 to 50 team members in the process. Under her direction, the IPC program developed a new, comprehensive IPC Acute Care manual, and focused efforts on reducing CDIs, including unit-specific action plans along with ongoing education and awareness of best practices for infection prevention and control.
Following Elizabeth’s very purposeful leadership and commitment to prevent health care-associated infections, the Fraser Health CDI rate dropped to 4.2 cases per 10,000 patient days in 2013/14. This is approximately a 61% reduction in CDI rates over a two-year period. The CDI target for Fraser Health is 6.0 cases per 10,000 patient days, based on national and provincial CDI rates, a target that all sites met in 2016/2017 for the first time since monitoring began.
Hand hygiene is one of the most single important initiatives that support the reduction of health care-associated infections and keeping patients safe from harm. Under Elizabeth’s leadership, Fraser Health hand hygiene compliance first met the provincial benchmark of 80% in 2013/14, and has remained above the provincial rate at approximately 85% for the last three years.
Elizabeth has also provided leadership for other IPC concerns, including the Ebola epidemic in 2014, for which she collaborated with health leaders across BC to develop provincial protocols and processes. Beginning in 2013, Elizabeth implemented a series of initiatives to respond to carbapenemase-producing organisms, an emerging concern for health care organizations as these infections are resistant to most drugs and therefore treatment options are limited. Successful initiatives implemented by Elizabeth’s team include screening patients upon admission, one-to-one nursing, and dedicated patient care equipment.
In addition to her effective leadership in reducing health care-associated infections in Fraser Health, Elizabeth is valued for her interpersonal qualities and support for her IPC team members. She advocates for learning and growth opportunities for her staff, such as presenting at conferences and participating in the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council’s Quality Academy. She makes tough decisions with respect and integrity, balancing the needs of the organization with the good of the patient. Elizabeth has been able to garner the trust and confidence of the organization based on her ethical choices, mutual respect and positive implementation of best practices that support the best possible outcomes for patients.
In addition to the measurable examples that demonstrate Elizabeth’s effectiveness in her role, detailed above, it is her ability to engage talented people, and create effective, high-functioning teams that truly sets her apart.