Samiha Badawy is a nurse at the Al Sabaeyya Hospital in Aswan, Egypt. Samiha, along with other nurses, health managers and Directorate of Health staff, are learning how to improve infection control and patient safety through a leadership development program called Improving the Performance of Nurses (IPN). IPN, a USAID-supported, MSH-led project, coordinates leadership development with health service quality improvements and collaborative learning approaches.
I first visited the Al Sabaeyya Hospital in August 2010 in my role as the Logistics and Field Coordinator for the IPN project. On this first visit I witnessed a shortage of infection control supplies and a lack of infection control protocols and practices.
Since then I have noticed changes as the project has progressed. Nurses like Samiha, together with the hospital director and the local community, have started to draft check lists to ensure quality implementation of procedures. The number of wash basins in the nurses’ rooms has increased, training materials were created, and infection control signs were placed on hospital walls and nursing stations.
I asked Samiha how the leadership program had affected her work. She stated that before her participation in the program, she carried out infection control procedures as part of her daily job — but didn’t really understand the importance of these procedures to patient safety.
“Now I understand the importance of implementing correctly these procedures and their effect on the patient’s life and recovery,” said Samiha. “Now I am very careful to implement all the steps according to Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP) standards, and make sure the hospital does not run out of supplies like gloves and syringes, disinfectants and cleaning materials.”
She also noted that her participation in the IPN program changed her daily work life. She is now proud of her job and the responsibility she has for patients’ lives.
Samiha said, now she feels like a leader.
“The program changed the way I interact with the nurses I work with. We became one together and we all feel empowered. We are the ones who need to make the changes happen.”
These changes in attitude and accountability have not gone unnoticed. Hospital Directors and officials from the MOHP have witnessed an increase in hand washing and improvements in communication between patients and nurses. Before the IPN program, 30% of nurses implemented safety measures like hand washing. Now, 76% of nurses practice hand washing.
In the leadership trainings, MSH included patient safety topics to meet the needs of staff working in operation rooms, neonatal incubator departments and renal dialysis units.
In response to these results, the MOHP decided to contribute its own resources to make training facilities available to all 46 hospital nurses by November 2011. Local community leaders have donated furnishing for the training room and funds for training materials, and the MOHP has requested that Samiha and other nurses train their counterparts in hospitals like the Edfu District Central Hospital and Fever Hospital, and the Chest Hospital in Aswan.
These activities will ensure the sustainability of patient safety practices beyond the life of the IPN project.
I am proud to be part of this program that affects the quality of care of my fellow Egyptians.
Ahmed Sobhi is Logistics and Field Coordinator for the Improving the Performance of Nurses (IPN) project in Aswan, Egypt.