• When Amy Carissimo-Harris, RN, BS, was named director of Infection Prevention at Rome Memorial Hospital, she knew she was inheriting a successful program, nationally recognized for keeping patients safe.

    Carissimo-Harris has spent 15 of her 20 years of nursing experience working in Rome Memorial Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU). “I am proud to become a part of the Infection Prevention team at Rome Memorial Hospital because I know from experience that this is an organization which leaves no stone unturned when it comes to patient safety and infection prevention,” she said. “I have travelled throughout the country and worked at other hospitals, but I keep coming back because this hospital always does the right thing for its patients.”

     

     Amy Carissimo-Harris 
    Amy Carissimo-Harris, Director of Infection Prevention

    She takes over for LeAnna Grace, who retired after leading the Infection Prevention Department for more than 24 years.

    “LeAnna worked tirelessly to create a strong and successful program which means I can concentrate on making minor adjustments moving forward,” said Carissimo-Harris. “My experiences as a front-line nurse give me a great deal of insight in regards to the way our nurses work and I am able to identify barriers to infection prevention and provide guidance on how to get past them.”

    She also points to several important benchmarks which highlight the hospital’s successful program. “Of course every hospital cares about their patients and wants to protect them from healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), but at RMH we have the statistics to validate our claims,” she said. “For example, our ICU hasn’t had a central line infection in over seven years. Also, we have been nationally recognized by both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Consumer Reports for keeping our patients safe.”

    Carissimo-Harris started her career in nursing as a certified nursing assistant in 1992 and earned her nursing degree from St. Elizabeth College of Nursing in 1994. She then went on to complete her bachelor’s degree in biology from Utica College in Biology. Although making the change from working on the front lines of the ICU to the more behind the scenes arena of infection prevention means less direct patient contact, she was intrigued with the opportunity.

    “I like to be in motion all the time, and just like the ICU, infection prevention is never the same day twice,” she said. “There is always something new coming down the road. It is a challenge to stay ahead of the curve, monitoring organisms which have the potential to harm and making sure we have procedures in place to stop them from spreading. I have actually been pleasantly surprised because I do get to interact with our staff, our patients and their families every day to provide education.”

    Carissimo-Harris explained that the success of the program stems from a combination of teamwork, technology and a forward-thinking administration.

    “RMH has a proven track record of not only complying with the latest mandates in infection prevention, but anticipating new ones and exceeding the minimum recommendations,” she said. “One of the things that makes this a special place is the fact that we are small enough to give individualized care, but our skilled professionals and technology rival major medical centers.”

    Carissimo-Harris points to the investment made by the Rome Hospital Foundation which purchased a state-of-the-art Bioquell machine, which uses hydrogen peroxide vapor to reach surfaces and equipment that otherwise would be hard to completely disinfect, as an example of the hospital’s forward-thinking approach to infection prevention.

    “The majority of the places I’ve been haven’t even heard of the Bioquell machine because they may not understand the benefit in the cost analysis but in Rome, this technology is available to us on a daily basis,” she explained. “This hospital recognizes that when a room is completely clean and disinfected, it creates a healing environment for our patients.”

    Carissimo-Harris went on to say that the hospital’s commitment to the community it serves is reflected in the quality of care provided.

    “I firmly believe that we are such a well loved part of the community because of the commitment we show and the care we provide. I choose to work here and I would be a patient here any day of the week, because I trust this organization,” she concluded. “I know the ins and outs of healthcare and I choose this place because I know what goes on here and I know that we go above and beyond to keep our patients safe.”