Meet CHA's Manager of Infection Prevention

08/12/2020
Pictured is Virginia (Ginny) Caples, RN.

“We had our first COVID-19 positive admitted to CHA Cambridge Hospital in March and she was intubated for weeks,” said Virginia (Ginny) Caples, RN. “Our staff was absolutely phenomenal taking care of her and became her family throughout the isolation from friends and loved ones.”

According to Ginny, nurses were in constant contact with the patient’s family using IPads, cell phones, and other devices so she could remain connected. It was a new experience for care teams and patients as visitor restrictions were in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The patient was finally discharged after 36 days. “There was so much staff pride the day she left the hospital,” said Ginny. A few nurses organized a farewell parade for the patient as she was escorted out of the hospital. Everyone from the hospital floor lined the hallway and wished her well on her path to recovery.

Throughout the height of the pandemic in Massachusetts, CHA discharged hundreds of patients, some of whom were quite sick. “Patients’ social, emotional, physical, and mental health is really taken into consideration every day on the hospital units,” said Ginny.

Ginny is the manager of Infection Prevention and Control at CHA and plays a critical role in CHA’s response to COVID-19. “Initially, throughout the surge, I was working 12 to 18 hour days, seven days a week on the floors,” said Ginny. About 20 hours a week of her time was spent on COVID-19 floors at Cambridge and Everett Hospital. Day to day, and sometimes minute to minute, Ginny was responsible for making adjustments to supplies, guidelines and other protocols to keep patients and staff safe from infection. Staff looked to her, and other members of CHA’s Infection Prevention and Control group, for support in the midst of the crisis as circumstances changed rapidly.

Ginny came to CHA in 2010 from Emerson Hospital where she was the manager of Infection Control. As CHA’s manager of Infection Prevention and Control, Ginny is responsible for educating staff and advocating for policies that reduce infection and prevent harm. She was recognized by colleagues at CHA for her calm leadership and perseverance during the COVID-19 surge in Massachusetts.

In March 2020, Ginny and CHA nurses Casey Alexandre, Joanne Cassell, Jennah Epstein-Santoyo, and Lisa Mashburn were recognized in the Boston Globe's annual Salute to Nurses. Ginny was one of four nurses highlighted in a cover story titled Nowhere They'd Rather Be: The Narratives of Four Nurses.

Her passion for patient safety and advocacy extends beyond CHA. Ginny is the current president of the New England Chapter of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC). APIC is the leading professional association for infection preventionists with more than 15,000 members. Their mission is to create a safer world through the prevention of infection. Through her leadership role with APIC, Ginny is able to network with other infection preventionists from across the globe and share best practices, techniques and other protocols to respond to COVID-19.

“People at CHA came together, no matter their role, from physicians and nurses to housekeeping, to care for our patients in the midst of the crisis,” said Ginny. That spirit of collaboration, for her, has been the biggest takeaway from COVID-19. Ginny explained that staff went out of their comfort zones, some redeployed to the hospital floors from primary care clinics.

CHA developed a robust community-based approach to manage COVID-19. Learn how this innovative model works and how CHA was able to keep thousands of patients out of the hospital.

Cambridge Health Alliance

Contributed By: Cambridge Health Alliance

Cambridge Health Alliance is an academic community health care system committed to serving all members of our communities. We have expertise in primary care, mental health and substance abuse, and caring for diverse and complex populations. CHA patients receive high quality care in convenient neighborhood locations, and have seamless access to advanced care through CHA’s affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. With over 140,000 patients in Cambridge, Somerville Everett and Boston’s Metro North, CHA is working hard to offer the integrated services its communities need now, and in the future.