Kate O’Connor: Our new in-house IPAC expert comes at the right time

Kate O’Connor: Our new in-house IPAC expert comes at the right time

Microbiology was one of Kate O’Connor’s favourite subjects when she studied nursing at the University of New Brunswick. It is one reason she decided to make the move from the Inpatient Unit (IPU) to become Arnprior Regional Health’s Infection Prevention and Control Coordinator.

“I was ready for a change and wanted to grow professionally,” explained Kate, who was previously a RN on the IPU and later the care facilitator. “I feel passionate about making infection control improvements and supporting our staff.”

Kate O’Connor, Infection Prevention and Control Coordinator.

‘Trial by fire’ a great learning experience

Kate had to hit the ground running and worked hard to become the in-house expert through education, research and shadowing experts at Queensway Carleton Hospital.

“Kate took over the position in January 2020 on the heels of a respiratory outbreak on the inpatient unit, moving quickly into COVID-19 response,” explained Susan Leach, Patient and Resident Services and Chief Nursing Executive, Arnprior Regional Health (ARH). “Her dedication and commitment to learning the specialty, completing her studies and preparing for the certification exam all while dealing with COVID-19 response and management is to be commended.”

Kate has welcomed this new professional challenge all while juggling three kids at home with her husband deployed overseas with the Military.

“I’ve been working really hard because I want to perform well in my new position. I want to learn something new, advance my career and support our staff.”

Kate has done just that at a time ARH needed her dedication and expertise.

“Kate has provided expertise and knowledge to the IPAC Committee and Incident Command Section Table and has represented us at the Regional IPAC COVID Group,” said Susan. “She has become an expert on the use of appropriate PPE and isolation precautions and has assisted us to ensure we were ready to restart our non-essential services.”

Addressing uncertainty and evolving science

One of the biggest challenges through COVID-19 is that the virus is new, which means the information and evidence is constantly evolving.

“My priority is to provide staff with the correct resources and accurate information,” said Kate. “I want to keep our staff and community safe, and I’m proud with how we’ve collaborated and followed directives to control the spread at ARH.”

Next up, Kate will be leading the Hand Hygiene task team with a goal to increase our compliance and address any practice issues that are identified.