Dear US Healthcare Epidemiologists and Infection Prevention Teams,
In the summer of 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) contracted with the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) to lead a two-year program entitled, Training Healthcare Epidemiologists to Respond to Infectious Diseases Outbreaks and Public Health Emergencies in U.S. Hospitals. This program is also known as the SHEA/CDC Outbreak Response Training Program (ORTP). I was tapped to lead the ORTP Advisory Panel for this exciting contract, which guides the massive SHEA volunteer effort associated with getting the program elements up and running. We had a busy summer!
The SHEA/CDC ORTP is designed to provide US hospital epidemiologists with the tools and training necessary to effectively lead an outbreak. The scope is wide, spanning large-scale public health emergencies to facility-level unit outbreaks. For me, this work has been a labor of love. During the planning phase alone, I can’t count how many times I thought, “I wish I had the ORTP when I first started my job as Hospital Epidemiologist…”
The ORTP will ensure that hospital epidemiologists and infection prevention teams are seen as leaders, responsible for infection prevention practices that protect against spread of infectious diseases. Outbreak response leadership extends way beyond the technical training you receive in medical school. It requires knowledge in emergency preparedness and the Incident Management System. It requires competency in strategic communications with healthcare staff, hospital visitors, and the media.
Everything developed by these SHEA thought-leaders is available free of charge. While many are available in 2017, even more is coming in 2018. I speak on behalf of the Advisory, Education, and Expert Guidance Panels to say that we hope you will take the time to complete all of the ORTP elements and devote the hours needed to further refine both your knowledge and leadership in outbreak response.
If you have any feedback on the program, I encourage you to share it with SHEA at firstname.lastname@example.org where it can be collected and dispersed to all the volunteers for this effort. We hope to see you in Philadelphia!
Judy Guzman-Cottrill, DO
Chair, ORTP Advisory Panel