Brenda Ehlert, CIC

Location: Waupun, WI

Title: Director

Company/Organization: Ascension Wisconsin

First Certified: November 2005

What was your greatest challenge when working to limit the spread of COVID-19 in your facility?

The greatest challenge this past year for myself was keeping the Infection Preventionists in our organization intact; physically, mentally and emotionally.  Our experience began in February with the resignation of one of our team members, followed by another in May, an early retirement in July and then before the second surge another resignation in August.  Recruiting during a pandemic was challenging but we did manage to fill the positions and had four novices to orientate while continuing to manage increased patient loads, surveillance, ever-changing guidelines and increased hours.  During the first surge in the spring there was increased tension, fear and stress beyond what was seen in my career.  The quality leaders and myself met to review what we could have done better for the IPs and in true process improvement planning initiated wellness care, coverage plans and EAP check ins.  The team blossomed and adapted to the challenges during the fall surge.  I am most proud of the Ascension Wisconsin Infection Preventionists continued commitment to associates, patients and to each other.   

What was your greatest success in implementing COVID-19 guidance? 

Using one resource to deposit all the CDC, Wisconsin Public Health, Ascension National and Ascension WI guidance that was accessible to all associates through Ascension WI.  The Coronavirus Resource Document could be updated in real time in our policy software and communication occurred as soon as live in the system.