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News | Dec. 4, 2023

Meet Tripler’s Intervention Prevention and Control Team

By Khinna Kaminske

The IPaC team monitors military health system data for infectious diseases impacting Oahu’s military population, potentially detracting from force readiness. The team focuses on identifying potential clusters of infection outbreaks.

TAMC’s IPaC team currently consists of four members: Emily E. Heenan, chief of Infection Prevention and Control; Michael J. Schweikert II, hospital epidemiologist; Han Ha Youn, Infection and control specialist; and Andrew “Drew” Tang, infection control specialist. Each team member is relatively new, joining the hospital staff within the last year.

“Now that we’ve become an entire team, we can dedicate more time to certain areas,” Heenan said. “We want the units to get to know us individually as a resource and a consultant for anything with patient safety and to reduce the risk of infection.”

The IPaC team used International Prevention Week, October 17-23, as an opportunity to build relationships within the hospital, and spread awareness of infection control basics. They hosted an online quiz trivia contest, in which TAMC employees could compete and win prizes. Each day, the team provided a biography of an IPaC team member.

A goal of infection control is to stop the spread of infections in healthcare settings. IPaC uses evidence-based practices and procedures that, when applied in TAMC healthcare settings, can prevent and reduce the risk of transmission of microorganisms in the hospital.

“We are looking at charts to identify the cases that meet the criteria for specific types of infections,” Schweikert said. “We work with the nurses, physicians, and multi-disciplinary teams to determine opportunities to prevent instances of infection.”

Hand hygiene is a significant portion of the team’s work — and with December being National Handwashing Awareness Month, it’s a timely topic. Proper hand hygiene is important in health care settings, as it is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of infection.

“It’s the most well-known [infection prevention] practice,” Youn said. “There are a lot of improvements for hand hygiene happening at Tripler, and we are headed in the right direction.

For more information on hand hygiene, visit www.cdc.gov/handhygiene/index.html.

The IPaC team also supports Desmond T. Doss Health Clinic and Warrior Ohana Medical Home and provides oversight of several dental clinics on Oahu. TAMC is currently the main military treatment facility for IPaC, but a few clinics have their own IPaC entity.

Staff should expect to see the IPaC team out an about in coming months, asking questions, providing guidance, and generally bolstering hospital safety.

“We keep our eyes on the units by asking the staff questions,” Schweikert said “We look at their environments and processes to see if they are doing well and to continue the good practice.”

Tripler's Infection Control and Prevention Team (left to right); Emily Heenan, Andrew Tang, Ha Han Youn, and Michael Schweikert

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