At a session at the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) Spring 2017 Conference, Liz Kruvand, a patient advocate at Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, MO, gave a personal patient perspective that illustrated the importance of involving families and visitors in healthcare-associated infection (HAI) prevention practices.
Kruvand started her presentation with a brief background on Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, saying, “What do we do? We do what’s right for kids.” She then went on to share her experience at the hospital where she experienced HAI-prevention practices on a personal level.
To set the tone and explain some of the “stress and panic” that added to her story, Kruvand said, “My story started in the height of the H1N1 outbreak.” She then shared that her daughter, who was prematurely born at 28 weeks gestation, was diagnosed with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
(MRSA), four and a half weeks after birth. A “lovely infection prevention sign telling us about PPE [personal protective equipment]” was stuck outside the door to their room.
With the lack of skin-on-skin contact with her baby, Kruvand had had enough. “I went on strike from wearing PPE. I didn’t believe in transmission and cooties and all these wonderful things that I had been told, because I follow proper hand hygiene and I follow all of the rules and regulations that [they] wanted me to do. But guess what? I was a bad influence on the people that don’t.” And so, Kruvand went back to donning the pathogen-repelling gowns. In fact, Kruvand and her family members “spent 55 days wearing yellow gowns.”
The story continued. Kruvand shared that a few weeks before her release, her daughter “suddenly was having trouble breathing; [and] she went on high-flow high-humidity [therapy].” Try as she did to comfort her daughter, Kruvand’s smiles and coos were hidden behind the PPE mask. “She couldn’t see anything of normal facial features that would help calm her. I looked like an alien to her.”
After several skin abscesses, however, the worst was over, “The good news is that we made it out safely, we survived,” said Kruvand. “But for a lifetime I [will] still skin-check my daughter for MRSA.”
Kruvand’s daughter survived the MRSA infection that affected her at just four weeks old and is now 7 years old.
“That is my ‘why.’ That is why I’m here, that is why I partner with you all. It’s why I partner with my hospital; it’s why I call it home,” said Kruvand.