Sue Starr has served many roles at Adirondack Health over her 20 years here, and now she has added infection preventionist to her title.
Starr began her career here in 2003 as an electrician and general maintenance person in our plant operations department. In 2011, she joined the environmental services department as manager, and within two years, rose to director of EVS.
Her 12 years leading our EVS team solidified Starr’s passion for infection prevention, and during the pandemic, Starr said she realized she wanted to do even more, so she chose to go back to college for her associate degree in health sciences.
Following a redesign of departmental responsibilities late last year, Starr was asked to step into the infection preventionist role with the understanding there would be clinical support while she continued to learn more about her new position. Starr said she’s been working with various regulatory agencies like the New York State Department of Health, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, and the Healthcare Association of New York State to learn about their processes.
“Everyone from health organizations to other infection preventionists in healthcare have been welcoming to my experience in environmental services because a lot of them are coming from nursing or the laboratory,” Starr said. “So, by having this other side of the infection preventionist view, they get to also see my expertise in that. And although I’m new to this role, I am committed, and I have my heels dug in.”
Starr said Adirondack Health continuing to improve its infection prevention practices is just one more way the organization continues to be leading edge.
“We have amazing technology, experienced physicians who perform highly technical surgeries here, we have the equipment in our lab that many small, rural labs don’t have,” Starr said. “So even though we are a small hospital, we set an example of how great healthcare can be.”
Through her two decades with Adirondack Health, Starr said she really appreciates the organization’s dedication to shared governance.
“I really have seen our processes and patient care improve because the employees feel like they have a say about their practice,” Starr said. “It allows the staff who are working at the hospital to help build the programs that succeed. Shared governance has several different committees and each one is focused on a different type of growth. The satisfaction of the job is not only the work that you do but knowing the impact that our system has on our community. We’re a community of individuals that work together to support the health and wellbeing of the community around us.”
Although this expanded role of infection preventionist is a new challenge, Starr said she’s grateful to be able to use her brain in a new way.
“I saw a new path where I could grow more and learn more to be able to help our organization succeed,” Starr said.
Starr commended her environmental services team and said each member of EVS recognizes the importance of their job, and they do the best they can every day to make sure our patients and their colleagues are safe. She also recognized her three EVS managers: Mary Foster, Sejdefa Cecunjanin, and Kerissa Marquisse, and said their added leadership allows her to also focus on the new infection prevention part of her role.
“Mary Foster has been instrumental in helping me succeed,” Starr said. “She’s an expert in the field of environmental services.”
As Adirondack Health’s infection preventionist, Starr is in charge of developing, implementing, and managing infection prevention policies and procedures; monitoring, reporting, and investigating healthcare-associated infections and communicable diseases; educating healthcare workers and patients about infection control practices and strategies; collaborating with teams and individuals to create and sustain infection prevention standards and goals; and ensuring compliance with national and local infection control regulations and recommendations.