What is VICNISS?                      

VICNISS - What we do (pdf)
 
The primary aim of reducing the VICNISS Coordinating Centre is to reduce the occurrence of healthcare associated infections (HAIs) in Victoria. VICNISS operates across both public and private hospitals and residential aged care. This includes any infection associated with any form of healthcare, primarily acquired while in hospital, but also during periods of outpatient treatment such as haemodialysis or hospital in the home. People living in residential aged care are at increased risk of contracting these types of infection and having poor outcomes. We provide the following support and frameworks for our networked facilities:
      • Monitoring and reporting of infections and related events to hospitals and the Department of Health
      • Promotion of best practice through education and support of all staff responsible for infection control programs
      • Enhancing quality care in hospitals and residential aged care through standardised and data-driven program delivery
Why do we monitor healthcare associated infections? Surveillance and associated reporting surveillance data to healthcare facilities has been demonstrated to result in reductions of up to 30% of HAIs. Many healthcare infections are preventable. Surveillance provides a baseline rate of infections, and provides an early warning if infections are increasing. Hospitals and other facilities can act on surveillance data to improve processes and practices and evaluate the outcomes.

Why do patients get healthcare associated infections?

Patients undergoing medical treatment are at increased risk of contracting an infection for a number of reasons, including:
      • Use of invasive medical equipment e.g. needles and intravenous devices
      • Surgery and other wounds which breach skin integrity
      • Diseases and treatments (e.g. chemotherapy) which suppress the immune system
The major activity of the Coordinating centre is to collate and analyse data and information (surveillance) from hospitals and aged care facilities in Victoria.  All Victorian public and private hospitals are required to perform appropriate surveillance for healthcare associated infections and relevant processes.  Aged care facilities currently participate on a voluntary basis.  For more information please see “what is surveillance”                    

Information gleaned from the surveillance is used to identify hospitals with higher than expected infection rates or lower than expected quality measures.  This information is fed back (via the Department of Health & Human Services Victoria’s safety and quality improvement processes) to health service executives who are in a position to address issues of concern and instigate necessary actions.

Programs coordinated by VICNISS

*For certain surgeries patients are given one or more antibiotics immediately prior to surgery to help prevent developing an infection

Reporting Mechanisms
The Coordinating Centre collates the data and provides reports to the Department of Health & Human Services Victoria, as well as to participating hospitals.  These reports are accessible by infection control staff as well as by quality improvement personnel, surgeons, executives and other authorised persons who log into VICNISS via a secure online portal. Participating hospital staff have access to their own hospital data, to aggregated data for the State and in some cases to de-identified data from other hospitals. 

VICNISS Coordinating Centre publishes Annual or Bi-Annual Reports, that can be accessed here which contain data about infection rates for the State of Victoria.  Some data on SAB and CLABSI infection rates provided to VICNISS from individual hospitals is available at the following links: 
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) SAB rates 2018-19
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) SAB rates  2016-17
Victorian Agency for Heath Information (VAHI) 


VICNISS Expertise 
The VICNISS Coordinating Centre, funded by the Department of Health & Human Services Victoria, is staffed by a multidisciplinary team comprising of infectious disease physicians, senior infection control nurses consultants, epidemiologists/biostatisticians, and information technology (database and applications development) experts.

VICNISS staff provide education to hospital staff on infection surveillance and other infection control issues including new and emerging infections. There is also a comprehensive hand hygiene education program in Victoria coordinated by VICNISS.

VICNISS staff construct and modify tools to assist hospitals with reduction of infections (for example checklists to monitor insertion and care of catheters inserted into veins used to administer fluids and medications). VICNISS staff also assist hospitals with infection outbreaks, local education and respond to general enquiries.
To contact VICNISS click here

VICNISS Staff Profiles
 
Professor Mike Richards
Director,
Phone: 61 3 9342 9352
Mike has been Director of the VICNISS Coordinating Centre since it's commencement in April 2002. Mike is an ID Physician with an interest in healthcare associated infections and infection prevention. He was previously Head of the Infectious Diseases Unit at the Austin & Repatriation Medical Centre and worked as a guest researcher at the Hospital Infections Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta. Mike is also Director of the Victorian Infectious Diseases Service (VIDS) and is in private practice. Mike is a member of the Victorian Healthcare-associated Infections Committee, and chair of the Healthcare Infection Committee of the Australian Commission for Safety and Quality In Healthcare. His recent publications include papers relating to healthcare associated infections, surveillance and antibiotic use.
Infectious Diseases Physician     
Phone: 61 3 9342 9359
Leon joined VICNISS in 2007. He is an infectious diseases physician with post-graduate training in epidemiology, biostatistics and public health, and holds co-appointment as clinician and medical lead to infection prevention departments at two health services in Melbourne. In 2011 he completed his PhD evaluating surveillance strategies for catheter-associated bloodstream infections in immunocompromised patients. His interest is in validity and integrity of reporting frameworks for surveillance data. He is a member of the Healthcare Associated Infection Technical Working Group and Antimicrobial Use and Resistance in Australia Project Reference Group of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare.




Dr Ann Bull
     
Operations Director / Epidemiologist        
Phone: 61 3 9342 9351

Ann has been at VICNISS since 2002. Ann completed a PhD in molecular biology before working for 8 years with the Commonwealth Environment Department in Canberra and then in Kakadu National Park. She has since completed a Masters in Applied Epidemiology. Ann is particularly interested in surgical antibiotic prophylaxis and other process indicators for infection prevention.




Associate Professor Noleen Bennett
       
CNC Infection Control        
Phone: 61 3 9342 9354

Noleen has been with VICNISS since 2002 as a Senior Infection Control Consultant and is the primary contact for the Type 2 (smaller hospitals) program. Prior to this she was employed as a Senior Infection Control Consultant at Monash Medical Centre. Noleen obtained her Doctor of Philosophy in 2011. The title of her thesis was 'The development and evaluation of the Victorian hospital acquired infection surveillance program for smaller public acute care hospitals'.




Judy Brett
       
CNC Infection Control        
Phone: 61 3 9342 9353

Judy joined VICNISS in 2007 and is a primary contact for the large hospitals (≥ 100 beds) program. Judy has been working in infection control since 2000. Her post graduate qualifications include midwifery, neonatal intensive care, infection control and sterilisation, nurse immunisation and business management. Judy is a member of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare HAI technical working group. 




Jennifer Bradford
 

CNC Infection Control
Phone: 61 3 9342 9356

Jennifer joined the VICNISS team in 2009 as the Victorian hand Hygiene Coordinator and primary contact for the Type 1/2 (private hospital) program. She has been working in infection control since 2000 and her post graduate qualifications include adult and neonatal critical care, midwifery, infection control and sterilisation, nurse immunisation. Her interests are in are in improving patient safety through improved infection control practices including hand hygiene. Between December 2014 - June 2016 Jen was seconded to Hand Hygiene Australia to roll out the Victorian Hand Hygiene Audit Learning and 'Toolkit' projects.




Alex Hoskins
 

CNC Infection Control
Phone: 61 3 9342 9357

Alex has been with VICNISS since January 2015 and is a contact for the Type 2 (smaller hospitals) program. Prior to this she was employed as an Infection Control Consultant at Box Hill Hospital. Alex has completed a Masters in Perioperative Nursing, Certificate in Infection Control, Post Graduate Diploma in Education and has Nurse Immuniser Accreditation. She is a member of the Australian College for Infection Prevention and Control (ACIPC).


Maree Sommerville 
CNC Infection Control
Phone: 61 3 9342 9362

Maree joined VICNISS in December 2018 as the primary contact for Private Hospitals surveillance program. Maree comes to VICNISS from acute care, public health where she was the lead infection Control Nurse Consultant. Her post graduate qualifications include Midwifery, Post registration Bachelor of Nursing, Graduate Diploma Health Science (Infection Control), Accredited Nurse Immuniser and Pre & Post-test counsellor for Blood Borne Virus certification. She is a member of the Australian College for Infection Prevention and Control (ACIPC).




Dr Lyn-li Lim

Infectious Diseases Physician
Phone: 61 3 9342 9360

Lyn-li joined VICNISS in 2019. She is an infectious diseases physician with post-graduate training in epidemiology, public health and medical administration, and holds a co-appointment as a physician and antimicrobial stewardship lead at a public health service in Melbourne. Lyn-li has interests in surgical prophylaxis and optimising the use of healthcare-associated surveillance data.




Simon Burrell
 
Database Manager        
Phone: 61 3 9342 9364

Simon joined the VICNISS Coordinating Centre shortly after its commencement in 2002. Simon manages the information technology  office and has particular interests in how data is presented. Originally from an electronic engineering background, he has been working with databases since 1997. He is a member of  PASS (Professional Association of SQL Server) and HISA (Health Informatics Society of Australia).




Ling Wang
       
.NET / SQL Programmer        
Phone: 61 3 9342 9358

Ling joined VICNISS as a software developer in 2008 after completing her master degree in Information Technology. She is an experienced Microsoft.NET developer and has profound knowledge of SQL. Her postgraduate study covers many technology fields such as database programming and web development. She has also acquired advanced training in Microsoft SQL Server technologies. Her work focuses on the implementation of analytical reports on healthcare data and the extension of web applications.




Roland Laguitan (MCSD ®, Umbraco Certified Developer) 
  
     
Senior DevOps and Business Intelligence Developer      
Phone: 61 3 9342 9359

Roland joined Victorian Nosocomial Infection Surveillance System (VICNISS) Coordinating Centre in September 2013 as an Information Technology (IT) Analyst. At VICNISS, he has wide responsibility for information technology environment, with focus on the end-to-end web application development /implementation, business intelligence (BI), data mining and reporting that supports the Centre’s core missions. He is Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer: Web Applications and Umbraco Certified Developer. He has more than a decade of extensive experience, working with a broad range of technologies, in system analysis/design, web development and business intelligence. Throughout his career, he has been engaged and built numerous web and desktop applications as well as native mobile apps from small up to enterprise level.

 

Arpita Patel         
Business Intelligence Developer      
Phone: 61 3 9342 9367

Arpita joined VICNISS in 2019 as a Business Intelligence reporting developer and is involved in the development and ongoing enhancement of VICNISS reports. Arpita has a Master’s degree in Information Technology Management Studies and her postgraduate studies have covered a variety of fields including project management, database management and web development. Prior to joining VICNISS Arpita worked as a BI developer in the technology product development field.



Dr Michael Malloy
Biostatistician   
Phone: 61 3 9342 9361

Michael joined VICNISS in June 2019 as a Biostatistician. He has training in both mathematics and statistics and completed a PhD in Statistics in 2014. Prior to this role he was employed as the Statistician at VCS Foundation, as part of their population health research team.  During this time he was also tutoring/demonstrating post-graduate biostatistical courses at The University of Melbourne.




Katie Walker

Epidemiologist   
Phone: 61 3 9342 9365

Katie joined VICNISS in September 2019 as an Epidemiologist. Hailing from North Carolina,  she has training in biology, infectious disease research, education, and has completed a MSc of Epidemiology in 2018 at the University of Melbourne. Before starting her career at VICNISS, Katie worked at the University of North Carolina as a researcher studying Dengue virus, and spent 2 years as a biomedical science teacher, teaching science to secondary students. She enjoys traveling, and has worked as an educator or researcher overseas in 3 countries.

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