Kruvand is one of the few parents on staff at her hospital where she and fellow parents, “solely represent patients and families.” She added, “We’re all leveraging multiple talents, but the reality is, we’re there advocating for our families.”
As part the Children’s Hospitals’ Solutions for Patient Safety National Children’s Network, it is a tenet of safety strategies at the Children’s Hospital in St. Louis to have family members join the healthcare team. This is to ensure that patients are involved and engaged
in HAI prevention. This practice is not without some challenges, though.
Describing what she believes is the biggest struggle in being involved with safety, Kruvand said, “Imagine your child’s life is being held in the hands of a doctor who you don’t know. You see them come in and they don’t [wash their hands]. How do you think it’s going to feel when you turn around and say ‘you’re not touching my kid until you [wash] your hands’? Do you think most people are going to feel comfortable doing that? No. Society and culture in hospitals (right now) is set up to make [a] distinction [between the patient or family and the physician]. Physicians are revered. [The reality may be that] they know way more than I do [about the medical field], but I know a lot more about my daughter than [they] do. And [accepting this is] the premise of real, true partnership.”
And, therein lies the importance of educating and engaging not only the patient but his or her family and visitors, as well. This engagement should not only be in the form of pamphlets and hand-outs. According to Kruvand, although having patient education tips printed on paper is “great,” it should not be the only format available. She suggests moving towards “higher technology,” and trying to relay the message through videos, especially in areas with low English literacy rates. Kruvand encouraged “breaking down barriers and inviting patients and families into this private world of” infection prevention in the hospital setting.
She also suggested creating “fun and engaging” posters that illustrate different precaution designations or proper hand hygiene. “Everything in a kid’s hospital is fun,” she said, and it’s important to have “a clear visual connection for people to know ‘I need to have a mask and gloves’” in one particular area, “and ‘I just need a gown’” in another.