In the medical community, there are those who take the first steps in finding new ways to keep patients safe.



One such leader is Dr. Mark Shelly, who was honored by a group of his peers on Oct. 18, receiving the 2011 Outstanding Contributor in the Rochester chapter of Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

In the medical community, there are those who take the first steps in finding new ways to keep patients safe.

One such leader is Dr. Mark Shelly, who was honored by a group of his peers on Oct. 18, receiving the 2011 Outstanding Contributor in the Rochester chapter of Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

The group is part of a national organization linked to the national Center for Disease Control that consists of doctors, nurses and other medical staff from local hospitals and medical centers who participate in advocacy and educational programs about infection prevention.
This month, their event was hosted by the Fairport Baptist Home.

Shelly is a Penfield resident currently works as director of the Infectious Disease Unit at Highland Hospital. He was raised the child of missionaries in the Congo, where he now volunteers his time teaching medicine and is widely recognized for his research and effort to promote infection control locally and abroad.

“Infection prevention is about something that’s very behind-the-scenes,” he said. “Much of what I do is wrestling with how to improve on preventing something that isn’t very common, so it’s a bit of a challenge.”

He noted that although the chances of a patient developing an infection may be small, but it doesn’t take much for harmful bacteria to multiply faster than can be controlled.

Why is IP so important? In hospitals and other medical care facilties, it can mean the difference between life and death.

In 2009, four local hospitals formed multiple collaboratives with Excellus to target infections like C.diff, an intestinal bacteria that is fatal in some cases, and central line infections that occur outside the ICU.

 Ann Marie Pettis is the director of infection prevention at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and said  Dr. Shelly was one of the founders of these efforts, which have led to a 50 percent drop in central line infections.

Terri Maher is the IP nurse at Fairport Baptist Home, and noted that germs have become tougher to fight because they have become more resistant to antibiotics and antibacterials commonly used.

“Things are changing so quickly that we have to constantly be on top of it to stop the spread,” said Maher. As a result, doctors and nurses interacting with different patients must take extra precautions.

“We have to develop processes so other people don’t contaminate others,” said Maher.