Making hospitals healthier places

Tuberculosis has made an alarming comeback, and among the people facing the highest risk of contracting the disease are health care workers — especially those in the developing world. But the vulnerability of those on health care’s front lines has been largely overlooked. Enter Elizabeth Bryce (left), a Clinical Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Annalee Yassi (right), a Professor in the School of Population and Public Health. The duo started working with each other during the SARS epidemic of 2003. After the outbreak subsided, they set about determining what protective measures should be used by health workers, depending on a patient’s symptoms, the procedure being done and the setting. While SARS hasn’t returned, they have parlayed their knowledge in the fight against TB, especially in South Africa — where most people have the latent form of the disease (the bacteria is in in their lungs but isn’t spreading or causing symptoms). They introduced a web-based system for tracking incidents, exposures, risks, immunizations and infection, developed a workplace audit that enables workers to evaluate their facilities and identify problems, and produced an online tutorial to train health workers about personal protection. Read more about their efforts in the spring 2012 edition of UBC Medicine magazine.

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