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Authors

  1. Penna, Austin R. MPH, CIC
  2. Hunter, Jennifer C. DrPH, MPH
  3. Sanchez, Guillermo V. MSHS, MPH, PA-C
  4. Mohelsky, Romy MPH, CPH
  5. Barnes, Laura E. A. MPH
  6. Benowitz, Isaac MD
  7. Crist, Matthew B. MD, MPH
  8. Dozier, Tiffany R. MBA
  9. Elbadawi, Lina I. MD, MS
  10. Glowicz, Janet B. PhD, RN, CIC
  11. Jones, Heather DNP, NP-C
  12. Keaton, Amelia A. MD, MS
  13. Ogundimu, Abimbola DrPH, RN, CIC, CPHQ
  14. Perkins, Kiran M. MD, MPH
  15. Perz, Joseph F. DrPH, MA
  16. Powell, Krista M. MD, MPH
  17. Cochran, Ronda L. MPH
  18. Stone, Nimalie D. MD, MS
  19. White, Katelyn A. MPH, CIC
  20. Weil, Lauren M. PhD, MPH

Abstract

Context: Between April 2020 and May 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) awarded more than $40 billion to health departments nationwide for COVID-19 prevention and response activities. One of the identified priorities for this investment was improving infection prevention and control (IPC) in nursing homes.

 

Program: CDC developed a virtual course to train new and less experienced public health staff in core healthcare IPC principles and in the application of CDC COVID-19 healthcare IPC guidance for nursing homes.

 

Implementation: From October 2020 to August 2021, the CDC led training sessions for 12 cohorts of public health staff using pretraining reading materials, case-based scenarios, didactic presentations, peer-learning opportunities, and subject matter expert-led discussions. Multiple electronic assessments were distributed to learners over time to measure changes in self-reported knowledge and confidence and to collect feedback on the course. Participating public health programs were also assessed to measure overall course impact.

 

Evaluation: Among 182 enrolled learners, 94% completed the training. Most learners were infection preventionists (42%) or epidemiologists (38%), had less than 1 year of experience in their health department role (75%), and had less than 1 year of subject matter experience (54%). After training, learners reported increased knowledge and confidence in applying the CDC COVID-19 healthcare IPC guidance for nursing homes (>=81%) with the greatest increase in performing COVID-19 IPC consultations and assessments (87%). The majority of participating programs agreed that the course provided an overall benefit (88%) and reduced training burden (72%).

 

Discussion: The CDC's virtual course was effective in increasing public health capacity for COVID-19 healthcare IPC in nursing homes and provides a possible model to increase IPC capacity for other infectious diseases and other healthcare settings. Future virtual healthcare IPC courses could be enhanced by tailoring materials to health department needs, reinforcing training through applied learning experiences, and supporting mechanisms to retain trained staff.