Lisa Hannah, 2022 McKnight Prize for Healthcare Outbreak Heroes Recipient
Posted: March 20, 2023
Lisa Hannah, RN, CIC, is the Infection Prevention Team Supervisor at the Washington State Department of Health. Her infection prevention and control work during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and her dedication to serving rural counties across Washington state earned her the 2022 McKnight Prize for Healthcare Outbreak Heroes.
The Evelyn and Thomas McKnight Family Fund for Patient Safety and the CDC Foundation created the McKnight Healthcare Outbreak Heroes Prize to encourage and recognize those who serve and protect patients from harm related to healthcare outbreaks.
Hannah is a nursing consultant advisor in the Washington State Department of Health’s Office of Communicable Disease Epidemiology. In her role, she led 300 COVID-19 healthcare outbreak and infection prevention site visits across 70% of Washington state’s counties, many of them hard-hit rural areas. Hannah built a robust and multi-disciplinary HAI/AR team to offer support to healthcare facilities within 24 hours of notification of an outbreak. The team developed and implemented a workplace resiliency training program to provide resources for staff to avoid burnout and support work-life balance. The team also converted the manual Facility Outreach and Infection Control Assessment and Response tracking process into REDCap to collect real-time data to optimize response times and project development efforts.
Hannah also strengthened infection prevention and control by empowering healthcare facilities with training and educational resources. She expanded the infection preventionists’ (IP’s) capacity to include dialysis clinics, oncology clinics, dental and ambulatory settings, in addition to acute and long-term care.
Hannah overcame many obstacles throughout the pandemic, including vague and shifting guidance, scarce PPE and testing resources, and the lack of electronic systems in place for tracking outreach and outbreak response.
“Observing the fear, sadness, anxiety, and other emotions of the healthcare workers was something I had not experienced as an IP before this. Working with the staff and administration left me feeling that most often the facilities were doing the best they could with the resources available to them. They were not prepared for this.”
Hannah credits her success to strong partnerships between local health departments (LHDs) and healthcare facilities, which were built on trust, transparency, and compassion. This allowed for more customized approaches to IPC. Hannah organized the IPs that were assigned to LHDs and the healthcare facilities within that area with the goal of providing consistent support and proactive guidance.
Hannah believes the future of HAI/AR response includes strategically evaluating the need for outbreak response and IPC activities with proactive education and outreach. She also highlights the importance of emergency preparedness plans and drills, and maintaining access to fit testing resources, PPE, and testing supplies.
In recognizing both the progress and challenges faced by the public health community in recent years, Hannah hopes that CORHA’s outreach efforts can promote outbreak investigations in specialty settings, amplify CORHA resources, and increase IP confidence beyond COVID.
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