Emily Timkang Quijano, RN, MSN, CIC

Location: Saudi Arabia

Title: Infection Control and Prevention Practitioner

Company/Organization: Dr. Erfan and Bagedo General Hospital

First Certified: January 2019

It was December 2019, when everyone was thrilled as the most wonderful time of the year, Christmas season, was fast-approaching. But the world had to face one of its most struggling challenges, the COVID19 pandemic. My curiosity of this novel disease started on January 2020 when I frequently read and saw news about this unknown pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan City, Republic of China. The panic and anxiety caused by this unknown disease as well as the rapid spread of this disease around the globe made me realize that it is indeed a public health disaster.

Just like all novel diseases, greatest challenge in dealing with such is how you are going to control the spread of COVID19 when you have limited knowledge about it (Cardinal signs and symptoms, Modes of transmission, Period of communicability, R0 and treatment based on individual needs). Just as how our national government health body- Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health, we conquered these challenges by having an active surveillance of the disease process, effective activation of triage stations, early reporting of suspected and confirmed COVID19 and intensive education for staffs, patients and visitors regarding basic infection prevention practices such as hand hygiene, cough etiquette, proper and optimal use of PPEs and social distancing. One of the challenges also is the needed beds to be allotted for the suspected and confirmed COVID19 cases. Initially, government hospitals are receiving all the confirmed cases, but due to the influx, MOH started to allow our hospital to serve both suspected and confirmed cases. This government decision led to our facility’s decision to conversion of some units into a COVID19 units (CCU, Daycase and General Ward). Trainings and education were given to all HCWs who were assigned to these units ensuring staff and patients’ safety.

All because of the administrative support, IPC department leadership and staff commitment, our facility’s greatest success was we had a minimum number of staff who became HAI COVID19 since the start of pandemic until the end of 2020(22staffs out of 2500). 

My certification tremendously assisted me to prepare for these challenges of novel coronavirus. The love of research, readings and eagerness to fight an unknown disease (basic attitude of an Infection Preventionist), knowing that updates will help your families and clients to protect themselves. And the confidence you developed in delivering public health education, making the staffs to have peace and trust despite chaos, stress and sometimes, depression.

I give my highest respect not only to my co-Infection Preventionists, but to all frontliners. Personally, the journey of fighting this COVID19 with all the sleepless nights where you have to work day and night just to implement and notify all the needed documents was never easy. I know how difficult it is to be facing COVID19 pandemic, but because of our selfless love, care, dedication and commitment to humanity, all our hard work will definitely be rewarded one day.