Bernard Camins, MD, hopes attendees log off from his presentation at Virtual OR Excellence and return to their facilities with a renewed sense of urgency in implementing tried-and-true infection prevention protocols that clinicians swore by during the darkest moments of pandemic. “It’s so important that surgical professionals continue to be as meticulous about wiping down surfaces and performing hand hygiene,” says Dr. Camins, the medical director of infection prevention at the Mount Sinai Health System and professor of infectious disease at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, both of which are located in New York City.
Dr. Camins would like to see healthcare organizations keep the infection control momentum and best practices going strong long after the pandemic ends. “When we all started wearing the masks, you saw what happened during flu season and how effective this simple measure was at preventing people from getting sick,” he says.
Moving forward, Dr. Camins says it would be nice to see universal masking in place during the flu season to keep cases down and people healthy. He’d also like to see healthcare workers ease off of the hero mentality that seemed to plague organizations before COVID-19. “Far too many workers were trying to tough it out if they were feeling sick or had a slight fever,” he says. “But during a deadly pandemic, staying home to keep patients safe became the norm. Let’s hope that sticks.”
The pandemic highlighted the critical importance infection preventionists and their evidence-backed protocols play in keeping patients and staff safe, and Dr. Camins wants to make sure this focus remains a priority. He knows a thing or two about the power and potential of thorough infection control protocols. During the pandemic, Dr. Camins was asked by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) to serve on an advisory group to ensure the iconic U.S. Open could be held safely, albeit without spectators. “It was a high-pressure initiative that involved a ton of hard work, but it was also a wonderful experience,” recalls Dr. Camins, adding that he was a bit starstruck to be just six feet away from legends like Serena Williams.
During his presentation at Virtual OR Excellence, Dr. Camins will discuss the invaluable role infection preventionists must play in creating and enforcing policies that prevent infections and keep multidrug-resistant organisms at bay. He’ll also share what you can do to be better prepared for the next pandemic.
“We have to constantly remind ourselves to get back to the basics and keep doing the simple things that we know will work,” says Dr. Camins. “We can’t afford to let our guard down.”
As society eases into full reopening mode and adjusts to reentry, Dr. Camins has a message for the public. “I advocate for everyone to get vaccinated,” he says. “And if you’ve already been vaccinated, it doesn’t mean you can live like it’s 2019. We still have to be safe.” OSM