Marisa Glucoft – Well-Prepared to Meet the Challenge
CHLA’s infection prevention specialist has the exact training necessary to handle the COVID-19 crisis
By Monica Rizzo
Supply inventory. Cleaning protocols. Employee health. Available beds. Visitor guidelines. Exciting stuff? Maybe not to some, but these details can mean the difference between meeting the needs of patients during a pandemic, or not. These are key issues being addressed by the Infection Prevention and Emergency Preparedness teams at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Incident Command Center as they confront the COVID-19 health crisis. One person at the center of it all is Marisa Glucoft, MPH, CHLA’s Director of Infection Prevention.
Glucoft is a linchpin of the command center, who collaborates daily with the hospital’s operations, planning, logistics, facilities, environmental services and leadership teams to ensure the most efficient plans and processes are in place.
“During a pandemic, it’s not just my typical realm of handwashing, isolation precautions and cleaning,” she says. “It’s like a game of Whac-A-Mole all the time.”
Glucoft’s usual spring ritual involves the ‘routine’ official announcement of the end of flu season. But in early January 2020, Glucoft received an email from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “about pneumonia of unknown etiology coming out of China. I got a sort of Spidey sense,” she explains. “Usually when there are global outbreaks we find out about them on the news just like anybody else. The CDC putting out a national advisory felt significant to me.”
Within weeks, Glucoft’s suspicions were confirmed when CHLA’s supply chain team reported that the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) inventory was low and that additional product was proving difficult to find. The novel coronavirus disease, what is now known as COVID-19, soon spread to other countries around the globe, including the United States. That’s when Glucoft and the Infection Prevention and Emergency Preparedness teams vaulted into action assessing PPE and sanitation supplies, establishing protocols for patient, family and team member safety, developing internal and external communications, conducting readiness drills, establishing daily employee health screenings and activating the hospital’s Incident Command Center to monitor the rapidly developing global pandemic.
Through it all, Glucoft’s positive energy and calm leadership has been monumental during the biggest health crisis in modern history.
“This is an opportunity for our organization to shine and show our patients, families, staff and ourselves that we’re really resilient,” Glucoft says. “We have planned for these types of events and now we can actually put these plans into place. I see that as an opportunity, not a cause for stress.”
After earning her master’s degree in public health at the University of Michigan, Glucoft joined CHLA in June 2014 just as the Ebola outbreak was declared an international public health emergency.
“It was an interesting time to start a career in infection prevention,” Glucoft says. “But the field appealed to me because I wanted to work in a setting where I could see the impact of the interventions we were putting into place in real time.”
These days, like many at CHLA, Glucoft is putting in long hours at the hospital so on her off days, the fitness enthusiast’s go-to destress activities are running and online barre classes.
“I miss my family and friends,” she says. “I think we are all looking forward to having that community back.”
Still, there’s no place Glucoft would rather be.
“Infection Prevention is the kind of field where I get to collaborate with almost every department in the hospital on any given day,” Glucoft says. “When times get stressful we don’t back away from the challenge. We come together. That’s why I come to work every day.”
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