IPC Champ Fairfax 3

Member Spotlight: Fairfax County HAI Team Recognized as NACCHO Infection Prevention and Control Champion

Feb 04, 2022 | Kimberly Nalley

NACCHO recognizes the Fairfax County Health Department’s (FCHD’s) Acute Communicable and Emerging Diseases (ACED) Program as its latest Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Champion. A full list of Fairfax County ACED Program team members can be found at the bottom of this announcement.

The Fairfax County ACED team is responsible for all reportable conditions (except Tuberculosis, sexually transmitted infections, and rabies), antimicrobial resistance (AR), healthcare-associated infection (HAI) prevention, and outbreak response. With an expanding division and new positions added to FCHD’s Communicable Disease Unit, program specific areas were built out and the ACED program was established in 2017.

Fairfax County’s ACED team is committed to maintaining a supportive environment and each member possesses a willingness to take on new challenges and a dedication to developing best practices. Their exemplary work with facilities, along with their commitment to sharing best practices at the state and national level distinguish the ACED Program Team as champions in IPC.

Fairfax County’s ACED team is committed to maintaining a supportive environment and each member possesses a willingness to take on new challenges and a dedication to developing best practices. Their exemplary work with facilities, along with their commitment to sharing best practices at the state and national level distinguish the ACED Program Team as champions in IPC.

NACCHO’s IPC Champions are passionate, well-versed, and respected leaders in the field of infection prevention and control. These individuals work at local health departments and advance infection prevention and control capacity, activities, guidelines, and engagement.

Building and Maintaining Partnerships

One underpinning achievement of Fairfax’s Acute Communicable and Emerging Diseases (ACED) Program has been the strategic establishment of partnerships with local care facilities. The ACED Program provides education to local facilities concerned about infection prevention and control (IPC) and shares best practices for other local health departments to model. The team is responsible for rapid outbreak response and control in Fairfax County, Virginia and has demonstrated resilience, collaboration, and support for the community through a growth mindset that has allowed the team to evolve to meet the needs of the public and their partners.

Additionally, the ACED team works closely with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) state HAI/Antimicrobial Resistance (AR) program, through data sharing, ad hoc consultations on case and outbreak response, and planning and implementation of preventive interventions. Further, Dr. Schwartz participated on the Virginia HAI Advisory Group and its Safe Antimicrobial Stewardship Innovators subcommittee to extend the lessons learned in his county across the state. These relationships help to advance the practices of public health by fostering peer-to-peer sharing of best practices and lessons learned and sharing local health departments experiences with state level stakeholders.

The ACED Program also works with state and national partners to bolster their ability to educate local facilities, including local and regional infection preventionists, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Virginia Department of Health HAI/AR Program, Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE), Health Quality Innovators (HQI), Northern Virginia Hospital Alliance (NVHA), FCHD’s Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response, and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO).

In 2018, ACED’s Program began building partnerships, including strategic outreach to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), through a public health nurse liaison program. As a part of this program, each nurse established relationships with infection prevention and nursing leaders at facilities, conducted regular site visits, and provided any necessary recommendations or support to improve facility IPC. In 2019, representatives from FCHD’s ACED Program recapped their approach for building local partnerships with care facilities and summarized what activities the program ended up implementing and finding most successful. These activities included: expanding their public health nurse liaison program, sending facilities division newsletters, visiting site monthly, hosting monthly webinars, and conducting assessments.

During the COVID-19 pandemic response, ACED’s interactions with facilities expanded to include surveillance and reporting, more frequent site visits with an emphasis on ensuring compliance with mitigation measures, assessment of personal protective equipment (PPE) use and other infection prevention measures, investigate outbreaks, and support testing and vaccination. In addition to onsite communication, they expanded outreach to include monthly webinar meetings with LTCF partners, to better address COVID-19, HAI, and AR updates.

The team’s IPC work with has also broadened to include collaborations and consultations with the County’s correctional facility, homeless services programs, and shelters.

Partnerships and support from infection preventionists, infectious disease physicians, and directors of nursing have played a significant role in the ACED program development, the team looks forward to expanding their program to meet additional HAI/AR needs of the future.

Impact on the Local Level

The results of their efforts include improved disease reporting from long-term care facilities (LTCFs) resulting in the investigation of cases and prevention of further infection. The ACED Program’s investment in building partnerships has also led to greater success in collecting data from local facilities. Fairfax County Health Department recently sent a survey to local SNFs which was completed by 100% of those invited, allowing the health department to learn about antimicrobial stewardship and diagnosis and management of urinary tract infections on a wider scale without having to gather the same information more actively and individually from those facilities.

These partnerships have resulted in improved collaboration and involvement with activities like ICAR visits, PPE training, and respiratory fit testing. LTCF staff and residents in Fairfax County also exceeded the national rates for early COVID-19 first-dose vaccination coverage as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) released on Feb. 5, 2021.

The Fairfax County ACED Program is a model for building, maintaining, and leveraging partnerships with critical facilities to respond swiftly and effectively to outbreaks, support implementation of infection prevention and control measures, and deliver education to local facilities. NACCHO recognizes Fairfax County as an IPC Champion for their exemplary work with facilities in Fairfax County, along with their commitment to sharing best practices at both the state and national level.

The Fairfax County ACED Program team members include:

  • Benjamin Schwartz, MD: Division of Epidemiology and Population Health Director/Medical Epidemiologist
  • Shawn Kiernan, MPH: Chief, Communicable Disease Section
  • Barbara Downes, MS, CIC: Program Manager, Acute Communicable and Emerging Diseases (ACED)
  • Michelle Addo-Dankwa, RN, MSN: Communicable Disease Public Health Nurse
  • Esperanza Attia, BSN, RN: Communicable Disease Public Health Nurse
  • Alexandra Buck, MPH: Epidemiologist
  • Samantha Christensen, MSc, MPH: HAI Epidemiologist
  • Stacey Helberg, BSN, RN: Communicable Disease Public Health Nurse
  • Andrea Krull, MPH, RN, CPH: Communicable Disease Public Health Nurse
  • Kristen Locklin, BSN, RN: Communicable Disease Public Health Nurse
  • Alex Seifert, MPH: Communicable Disease Epidemiologist
  • Rozmin Shaikh, BSN, RN: Communicable Disease Public Health Nurse
  • Erin Wardlaw, RN, BSN, MPH: Communicable Disease Public Health Nurse
  • Beverly Webster, MS, RN, CIC: Communicable Disease Public Health Nurse
  • Tehitena Abate, BSN, RN: Public Health Nurse deployed to the CD team to assist with COVID-19 in LTCFs
  • Lisa Washington-Mora, MSN, APRN, PMHNP-BC, Public Health Nurse deployed to the CD team to assist with COVID-19 in LTCFs
  • Shawn Harper, BSN, RN, CIC: Communicable Disease Public Health Nurse (2016-2020; returned to FCHD January 2022)
  • Kathleen Snow, BSN, RN, CIC: Communicable Disease Public Health Nurse (retired 2020)
  • Christina Ciambruschini, Administrative Assistant
  • Aracely Gill, Administrative Assistant

Submit a Nomination Today.

If any of these qualities seem familiar to you, please take a moment to fill out a nomination form for this recognition. The nominations can be for a team, or an individual. A member of our team will reach out to you to get any other information we might need. If you would like to submit a nomination for recognition as a NACCHO Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Champion, please use this form.


About Kimberly Nalley

More posts by Kimberly Nalley

Related Posts

IPC Champion
  • Infection Prevention and Control Champions

Member Spotlight Opportunity: Infection Prevention &...

Nominate yourself or a colleague as a NACCHO Infection Prevention & Control...

May 05, 2021 | Kimberly Nalley

Member Spotlight Opportunity: Infection Prevention &...

IPC C Du Page
  • Infection Prevention and Control Champions

Member Spotlight: DuPage County HAI Team Recognized as...

NACCHO recognizes the DuPage County Health Department (Illinois), Healthcare...

Oct 19, 2021 | Jaclyn Abramson

Member Spotlight: DuPage County HAI Team Recognized as...

IPC C Stephanie Black 3
  • Infection Prevention and Control Champions

Member Spotlight: Dr. Stephanie R. Black recognized as...

NACCHO recognizes Stephanie R. Black, MD, MSc as its latest Infection...

Jul 09, 2021 | Zachary Smith

Member Spotlight: Dr. Stephanie R. Black recognized as...

Matt Zahn IPC Champion
  • Infection Prevention and Control Champions

Member Spotlight: Dr. Matt Zahn recognized as NACCHO...

NACCHO is pleased to announce Matt Zahn, M.D. as the latest Infection...

Apr 22, 2021 | Kimberly Nalley

Member Spotlight: Dr. Matt Zahn recognized as NACCHO...

Headshot 2
  • COVID-19
  • Awards & Recognition
  • Infection Prevention and Control Champions
  • Infectious Disease

Member Spotlight: Dr. Dawn Terashita recognized as...

NACCHO has announced that Dr. Dawn Terashita, MD, MPH, FACPM, Associate...

Mar 03, 2021 | Kimberly Nalley

Member Spotlight: Dr. Dawn Terashita recognized as...

Back to Top