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The world has been very focused on infection prevention and control the past 18 months. But for Infection Preventionist Paula Lister, RN, CIC, that attention has spanned her entire 32 plus year career as a registered nurse.

As Infection Preventionist for Providence Medical Center (an interim foLister Paula new webr Saint John Hospital and Providence Place), Paula has remained the calm during the storm for staff regarding infectious diseases and prevention, and especially with the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

“I try to be a voice of calm during conflict and take a step back before communicating,” Paula said. “Fear generates anxiety and some individuals are ultra-sensitive to change and potential harm.”

Her career path includes being a staff nurse at Saint John and assisting with the One South nursing unit move from the 2nd floor, serving as an employee health nurse with Saint John, to infection preventionist role with both Providence and Saint John since 2004. She holds her Diploma Degree in Nursing, Certification of Infection Control (CIC) from Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. (CBIC). She routinely connects with the local Infection Prevention organization (Greater KC APIC Chapter) to brainstorm, learn and discuss current infection prevention strategies and concerns across the region.

When discussing the COVID-19 pandemic in particular, Paula says it was concerning early on because during the first few months of the pandemic there was not enough knowledge about the disease and information changed daily. Supply shortages in the early months which have now been resolved were also concerning to staff.

“Each disease has its’ own unique process, and the sooner we can educate staff, the better for them and our patients,” Paula added. “Our job is to give the staff the tools and education they need to do the work.” -more-

For nurses considering a career path in infection prevention, she says the job is not a 9 to 5 job and flexibility is an important trait to have. “You have to be ready to switch gears and multi-task at any given moment,” she said.

Besides being a nurse, Paula is a mother of three children, grandmother to nine grandchildren and one great grandchild. She enjoys spending time with her family, including her two older brothers who live in Texas. She has been a past member of the First Baptist Church’s Praise team helping to lead music for the congregation in Platte City and currently teaches Sunday School to an older adult/ladies’ group which she enjoys.