Pam Burton, MSN RN CIC, is the Peterson Medical infection preventionist. She says in that position she wears many hats.
"My first job is to educate," she says. "Everyone in the hospital needs to know how to prevent infections from getting started. Then there's the research I do, so I know what to teach. Ongoing is surveillance, where I make sure nothing gets past us."
Under surveillance, she lists making sure best practices protocols are in place to protect the safety of visitors, patients and staff; monitoring for any outbreaks both inside PRMC and in the outside community, local, state, national and global; looking for infections or trends that start inside or outside the hospital, like the annual flu outbreaks; and monitoring specific problems, like surgical wound-site infections.
Beyond that, she says she provides leadership on the subject, so hospital administrators can follow the recommendations, standards and guidelines from many sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.
She says, "Infection control is involved in every aspect of a hospital, from directly insuring patient safety to monitoring housekeeping and environmental services. I have to watch over everything from the chemicals used to clean floors, to sterile surgical instruments. We want to create an overall environment of care, but it's an ever-changing environment with always something to learn. It's only possible because at Peterson Health, throughout the staff and administration, everyone supports everyone."
Burton says she was born and raised in Midland, graduating as a Lee High School Rebel in 1980. She went to New Mexico Junior College, near Hobbs, N.M., and earned an associate's degree and the "RN," registered nurse, after her name in 1989. From then to 2011 she worked as a nurse, then started her specialization in infection prevention. In 2014 she gained the "CIC," Certification in Infection Prevention and Control.
She says the next step was attending Grand Canyon University for her bachelors in nursing in 2017. Then she gained her "MSN," the masters of science degree in nursing, from American Sentinel University, with a specialization as an infection preventionist, in 2019.
All of those letters also carry the obligation for continuing education, she says. She belongs to the national Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, and is the president-elect of the San Antonio APIC chapter, taking office in June.
Burton says she had a son, Bryan McBride, who died in 2012, and has two daughters. Michelle Fay is a stay-at-home mom for her four children, in West, Texas. Trisha Acosta is a surgical nurse at PRMC, and has two children.
On her time off, Burton says she likes seeing her six grandkids, and doing DIY stuff at her ranch near Camp Wood, with her two Australian Shepherds, Max and Koda.
She says, "I have the Serenity Prayer hanging over my door, and every day, as I leave for the office, I read, 'God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.'"