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Environmental service workers as potential designers of infection control policy in long-term care settings.

Van Tiem JM, Friberg JE, Cunningham Goedken C, Pineles L, Schacht Reisinger H, Morgan DJ, Solimeo SL. Environmental service workers as potential designers of infection control policy in long-term care settings. American journal of infection control. 2020 Apr 1; 48(4):398-402.

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BACKGROUND: Long-term care facility residents are at higher risk of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection and colonization than the general population. In 2009, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) implemented the "methicillin-resistant S. aureus prevention initiative" in long-term care facilities (ie, Community Living Centers or "CLCs"). METHODS: Over 4 months, 40 semistructured interviews were conducted with staff in medicine, nursing, and environmental services at 5 geographically dispersed CLCs. Interviews addressed knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs concerning infection prevention and resident-centered care. A modified constant comparative approach was used for data analysis. RESULTS: In CLCs, staff work to prevent and control infections in spaces where residents live. Nurses and Environmental Service Workers daily balance infection prevention conventions with the CLC setting. Infection control team members, who are accustomed to working in acute care settings, struggle to reconcile the CLC context with infection prevention. DISCUSSION: The focus on the resident's room as the locus of care, and thus the main target of infection control, misses opportunities for addressing infection prevention in the spaces beyond the residents' rooms. CONCLUSIONS: Environmental Service Workers' daily work inside the rooms and within the wider facility produces a unique perspective that might help in the design of workable infection control policies in CLCs.

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