It’s been a long week, but long in a good way! The IPAC Canada National Conference was this week in Banff, Alberta. The theme of the conference was “Climbing Mountains: Pathways to Discovery”. I must say the speakers did an amazing job pulling in our theme and weaving stories that were inspirational, educational and left everyone with pearls of wisdom to both take back to work and leverage in our personal lives.
I hosted a full day pre-conference symposium on Cleaning and Disinfection. I must say, I think this was my favorite of the 5 such symposiums I have hosted. The day was interspersed with both lectures and interactive activities that made people think beyond the obvious. We were stretched to think of the unobvious issues that can result in our facilities whenever cleaning and disinfecting products are used. The topics for the day weaved and intertwined with speakers building on and validating each other’s presentations. The day taught us to how to read and truly gather information from a product label, learn how to investigate and determine compatibility of a disinfectant with surfaces and devices found in our facilities and how to uncover where errors or issues in cleaning and disinfection have occurred. We also covered Room Decontamination Devices and their use in infection control programs, where and what types of biofilms may be lurking and closed off with a discussion on chemical resistance and what concerns there may be with our ever increasing use and reliance on cleaning and disinfecting chemicals.
Sharron Wood, the first North American female to summit Everest by the west ridge and north face gave the opening key note talk. While one would not think of mountain climbing and infection prevention as having anything in common, I can say we are wrong. One cannot just decide to climb Mount Everest and head out the next day. Planning is actually the largest part of ensuring success. Execution, the actual climbing can be successful if the planning has been done correctly. During the climb you need mental strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other and to make the right decisions. To have a successful infection prevention program, we too require a focus on planning and when we’re in the throes of an outbreak where things are ever changing so to do we need the mental fortitude to keep putting one foot in front of the other and the ability to make the right decisions.
The conference closed with Patch Adams – yes, the REAL Patch Adams! I’m sure many of us have seen the movie starring Robin Williams. What an experience to be in a room with him. Patch Adams held us in complete rapture expounding his beliefs that laughter, joy and creativity are an integral part of the healing process. He showed that laughter really can be the best medicine with examples and videos of the work he does around the world clowning. Some of my “ah-ha” moments were the fact that WE can choose to have a happy day and that our choosing to be happy has an incredible effect on those around us. As leaders, colleagues, friends and family, WE can make an environment where a person can see the best in themselves and that can be very powerful in helping to deal with whatever struggles they may be having or empowering them to think differently when faced with a challenge. Lastly, Patch Adams pointed out that in every job, there is something that is boring. Rather than lament in the dullness of the task, ask yourself what you can do to make it fun?
Those that know me know, that I like to have fun. In my current role there are times I feel that perhaps I’m too gregarious. Certainly, there are times where laughter, joking and clowning around are not appropriate, but I’m going to take to heart that I can choose to be happy and always look for the positive. I can choose to make others laugh and help them to be happy and in doing so I may be able to make the world a better place.