Sonja Hammer, Sterling Village director of nursing, jumped at the chance for specialized training because “maintaining the health and welfare of our elders, visitors and staff is the number-one priority here.”
Hammer recently completed a course of study called “Infection Preventionist for Long Term Care.” It involved classroom lectures and activities, online learning and testing, and visits to other long-term-care residences.
“We focused on how to prevent and track infectious organisms in all levels of care that we provide,” Hammer said. “This training is necessary so that we remain up-to-date on information that helps us care for our elders.
“Preventing infection can be the difference between a happy and healthy person and someone facing a critical medical condition,” Hammer continued. “But we also must keep the well-being of families and staff at the forefront of our minds.”
While Hammer noted all aspects of the training were helpful for the day-to-day activities at Sterling Village, she made special note of one highlight.
“It was great to learn more about how our surroundings have an impact on infection control,” she said. “Most people don’t realize how a remodeling job and housekeeping chores such as carpet cleaning affect our health.
“These situations can lead to the release of infectious bodies. There are just so many ways your health can be affected by the environment around you.”
Hammer is sharing this and other information she learned with her colleagues on a daily basis. “I work very closely with the nursing staff, and the environmental services and dietary departments. We all take our roles very seriously here and collaborate with one another.”
Hammer also noted that staff members must be good stewards of ways to prevent antibiotic resistance.
“With the recent reports of antibiotic overuse, it is very important for us to monitor the medications’ use,” Hammer explained. “We encourage the public to ask their doctors if an antibiotic is truly necessary. We must consider the overall health of the community and prevent superbugs from developing.”
Hammer has worked at Sterling Village since July 2007 and was named director of nursing in January this year.
In addition to infection prevention, her responsibilities include: maintaining all documentation required by state and federal law; ensuring elders’ rights; compiling job descriptions for nurses; and many other administrative duties.
“I am grateful to Sterling Village for allowing me to pursue continuing education that helps in all aspects of my job,” Hammer commented. “This allows me to better serve our elders.”