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Thursday 21 September 2023 Dublin: 11°C
# Infection Control
Mater Hospital nurse up for global award on leading change in infection control after pandemic
Jincy Jerry, a nursing manager who has an autistic son, says she experiences the health service from both sides.

JINCY JERRY, A nurse from Kerala in India who is representing Ireland as one of ten finalists at the global nursing awards for a prize of €227,800, is not afraid of a challenge.

When she applied for the role of Assistant Director of Nursing for Infection Prevention Control at the Mater Hospital, a colleague asked if she knew what she was taking on.

The post she was applying for had been open for around a year, and the infection control nursing team was short staffed.

“I was up for the task, I told them, then again I didn’t know that there was a global pandemic around the corner,” Jerry said.

Getting the team fully staffed was her first objective. Now the Mater has one Infection control nurse for every 100 inpatients, which Jerry says is “the best international standard.”

“The difference having a full team of infection control nurses makes is so noticeable, it means that we can stop the spread of superbugs and other infections in the hospital,” Jerry said.

“It is known within the health service that infection control has a heavy workload, with a lot of administrative duties.

“I have worked with a software company to bring in a world leading Robotic Process Automation system (RPA) that means that part of the burden of downloading lab results, completing surveillance data and creating patient notes is taken off nurses, so they can focus on the parts of the job that only people can do.

For the last three years she has been on call, often coming home well after her working day was supposed to finish.

“The national isolation unit is in the Mater hospital, so we were at the frontline of developing infection control procedures when the first cases of Covid-19 hit Ireland.

“The guidance on isolation periods and appropriate PPE changed many times, and we had to keep up,”Jerry said.

She was a leader in developing hospital cleaning procedures, and isolation policies that became essential in stopping the spread of the virus. 

“Infection control came under scrutiny during the pandemic, but we still need to invest in innovation to make hospitals safer.

“One key focus area is reducing cases of healthcare associated infections,” Jerry said.

These include multi-drug resistant organisms, bloodstream infections, and surgical site infections, which can be contracted in hospitals.

Overcrowding means that staff cannot always follow Jerry’s advice on how to reduce healthcare associated infections.

“If a patient is in a corridor, they cannot isolate. Overcrowding creates a constant pressure on our healthcare system, and it means that we have to be very vigilant about infection control,” she explained.

Jerry and her husband, who is an IT engineer, are parents to three children who are aged 4, 12, and 20. Their eldest, Chris, is autistic, and is non-verbal.

“I have a unique perspective on the health system, because as well as trying to improve our services, I am also a service user.

“My family has been affected by waiting times too,” Jerry said.

“Since Chris was young, both my husband and I have had to work part time at different stages, due to the amount of care and attention that he needs,” she added.

“When Chris finished St Michael’s Special School, there was a delay of quite a few months for adult services, because there just wasn’t a carer there for him. Initially he got two days a week with Praxis, and then three, and now a year and a half on he gets four days a week. 

“My work also means that I have missed some milestones. When I thought my youngest had said his first full sentence I told my husband and he said ‘Jincy, he’s been doing that for days’.

“Parents cherish those moments, and I have missed some of them, but I know that my children will be proud of what I have achieved as a nurse,” she said.

“I could not have managed balancing it all without the excellent support I have received from the Mater,” she added.

If Jerry is successful in winning nurse of the year at the Aster Guardians global nursing awards, she has plans to use the prize money to create an app that can improve infection control standards at the Mater and further afield.

“We need to embrace new tech to modernise infection control. Today, we still have nurses having to record infection cases on a piece of paper. That is part of the reason why electronic health records will make big differences.

“I am currently talking to tech companies about developing an app for nurses that could be used around the world to collect data for infection control,” she said.

You can vote for Jerry in the global nursing awards here.

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