By Colette Ouellet
Annually in October, we have an opportunity to recognize Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) and the leadership role that IPAC professionals play across the country and across the spectrum of care. Infection Prevention and Control Canada (IPAC Canada), representing over 1700 of these specialized healthcare providers, works behind the scenes to ensure our members have a voice in key areas to promote our roles and to make a tangible positive difference in the healthcare system.
Each year, representatives from IPAC Canada are involved in advocating for key infection control initiatives at the federal level through “Hill Day” which is a day (or sometimes several days) devoted to meeting Members of Parliament from across the country to promote our message and highlight our national priorities. We have spent several years focusing on the critical need for a national surveillance system, using standardized case definitions, to allow data regarding Healthcare Associated Infection (HAI) from all levels of the healthcare system to be collected and analyzed. We were elated to see that the 2022 federal budget addressed this need by allocating over $437 million dollars to strengthen public health surveillance and risk assessment capabilities. This will help to realize our goal to have a robust database from which a clearer understanding of the impact of HAIs can be gleaned, and targeted recommendations can be developed.
Clearly, to continue the important work of Infection Control and to have a structure that allows data collection and submission, we must ensure that there is succession planning and training of new talent in the infection control professional role. Last year, IPAC Canada’s Education arm developed an accelerated distance education program for new ICPs, providing training to 60 people who were then prepared to grow into this complex role with confidence. A slower stream, but equally comprehensive program, was also made available to meet the needs of those who wished to develop their skills to step into the ICP role and/or for those with other life priorities that did not allow them to go through the concentrated accelerated program.
A new and exciting opportunity came to IPAC Canada when we were invited to join the membership of an exclusive Global IPAC Network through the World Health Organization. As a clear recognition of our country’s expertise in Infection Prevention and Control, we are now in the company of worldwide experts who are dedicated to ensuring Infection Prevention and Control is an international priority.
Locally, nationally and Internationally, IPAC Canada is supporting and representing our membership to be recognized as an effective and expert body of skilled healthcare specialists. Infection Control Week (October 17-21, 2022) allows us to congratulate one another and celebrate the dedication of each member in our vast team. It is a time to be proud of our past accomplishments and excited for those to come.
Colette Ouellet RN BN MHA CIC is President-elect of IPAC Canada. She is Director, Infection Control, at the Queensway Carleton Hospital in Ottawa.