Fighting Infection One ICAR at a Time 

Individuals in a health care setting have a higher risk of infection. Health care facilities can participate in a proactive Infection Control Assessment and Response (ICAR) to receive free, non-regulatory guidance to strengthen infection prevention and control and reduce health-associated infections (HAI). 

“Without effective infection prevention it is difficult to achieve quality health care delivery,” stated Cheri Fast, BSN, RN, CIC, LTC-CIP, program manager for the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC). “Infection prevention and control practices are necessary in all aspects of healthcare. Preventing the spread of infection requires awareness of hand hygiene, antibiotic stewardship, wound care, environmental services, and more.” 

Cheri Fast

SDFMC collaborates with health care facilities to provide on-site and virtual infection prevention assessments, resources, and training to enhance quality of care and reduce risk of infection for patients, employees, volunteers, and visitors. Combining the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ICAR program with the Project Firstline infection prevention and control resources allows the SDFMC team to offer a comprehensive assessment and recommendations with hands-on training and education.  

With HAIs developing in 1.7 million patients every year in America, Fast emphasized the value of infection prevention and control assessment and training. “Sharing our expertise with colleagues has an impact on reducing infections and improving the quality of care. There is a growing focus on infection prevention and control, including MDROs (multi-drug resistant organisms), antibiotic resistance, hand hygiene, and proper disinfection.” 

Having earned multiple infection prevention certifications, Fast uses her mastery to assist healthcare facilities in reducing the risk of an infection-related outbreak by identifying gaps and recommending solutions. Having performed over 30 ICARs across South Dakota, Fast and the SDFMC team have identified five common themes for infection prevention improvement.  

  1. Missed opportunities for hand hygiene  
  1. Cleaning and disinfection of the environment 
  1. Lack of proper personal protective equipment use 
  1. Environmental and laundry services 
  1. No water management plan 

Facilites participating in an ICAR valued the feedback and took action to reduce infection risk. Below are some of the comments regarding changes resulting from the proactive assessment process.  

  • Added cleaning logs
  • Relocated supplies
  • Added a locked cabinet for full sharps containers
  • Universal terminal cleaning of rooms, both IP (inpatients) and OP (outpatient)
  • Cleaners with faster kill time
  • Improved food delivery process
  • Added med prep area in the emergency department
  • Phasing out cardboard boxes within facility

Fast works with a wide range of acute care hospitals, critical access hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, dental, dialysis, and ambulatory care. Interested facilities can schedule an ICAR by contacting Cheri Fast at and assessment forms and audit tools can be reviewed on the CDC ICAR website