Ms Lesley Stewart1
1Western District Health Service, Hamilton, Australia
The challenging Influenza season in 2017 saw many vulnerable patients and staff succumb to the Influenza virus.
In response to this, in 2018, the Barwon South West Regional Chief Executive Officers (CEO) met and decided to implement a collaborative Influenza campaign. This campaign promoted the premise that “all health care workers have an individual responsibility to protect the vulnerable patients in their care and executives have a responsibility to expect and support staff to achieve this end”.
The campaign began with formal communication from the CEOs to the staff. The usual promotional strategies were coupled with the requirement that during the nominated Influenza season, unvaccinated staff were to wear a mask when in close contact with patients. They were also provided with an education package and to better understand why they chose to decline the vaccination an appointment with the CEO was arranged.
Bench marking within the individual facilities and across the region was introduced and has been valuable. A little friendly competition often helps the cause.
There has been a marked improvement in staff vaccination uptake in all cohorts of staff and in facilities across the region.
Some facilities met the nominated 95% benchmark with all others moving toward meeting the “herd immunity” target in future years.
This approach has required a change in culture and has not been without its challenges. The lessons learned along the way, however, have led to positive outcomes and the intent is to continue with this approach moving forward
Lesley is the Regional Infection Control Consultant for the Barwon South West region. She is based at the Western District Health Service (WDHS) in Hamilton Victoria. In her regional role, she provides advisory support, facilitates and provides educational opportunities, assists with quality and audit activities to the Infection Control CNC’s across the region.
She is a founding member of the Rural Infection Control Practice Group in Victoria (RICPRAC) and aside from a short break has been active in this group since its inception.
In addition to her Infection Control role, she manages the Staff Health and Vaccination program at WDHS. In this role she is committed to the prevention and management of staff health issues. She has a particular interest in exploring all opportunities to minimise vaccine preventable diseases by improving staff vaccination uptake.