SOMERS POINT – Shore Medical Center announced that Melissa Szarzynski, manager of Infection Prevention, has been named the hospital’s Leader of the Quarter. Szarzynski, who joined Shore Medical Center in 2016 and earned Certification of Infection Prevention and Control in 2018, was selected for her tremendous leadership and inspiring work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Szarzynski produced changes within her department to assure all levels of the organization are cognizant of what care needs to be provided, when that care needs to be accomplished, and what education, processes and equipment it will take to ensure that the organization reaches its care goals for both patients and staff.
She has been successful in meeting the very fluid changes in infection prevention regulations and evidence-based care while remaining a calm and effective leader. In “normal times,” maintaining a solid knowledge base for all of the requirements of Infection Prevention can be challenging, but in our new normal this is indeed a measure of her dedication and leadership.
Szarzynski’s leadership during the pandemic has earned her praise and admiration from her colleagues.
“Melissa is a true ‘roll up my sleeves and I’m ready to help’ type of leader,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jeanne Rowe. “She will not ask you to do something she does not model. She has a solid and prepared knowledge base for the role and utilizes humor and realism in her encouragement of others to do the right and safe thing always. She has a passion to prevent disease and infections and keep patients and staff safe. If our infection prevention scores need improvement, she takes that personal initiative to communicate what is needed to bring them up, even going so far as to dress up like a virus to keep it fun. Shore is fortunate to have her at the helm during this pandemic and as the lead of our Infection Prevention Department.”
“Melissa has managed to work through this challenging pandemic while being a mother of four children, three of them teenagers who need to be home schooled and loved,” Administrative Director of Quality & Performance Improvement & Infection Control Valerie DeJoseph said. “Each day is opening up Pandora’s box with this novel virus and she continues to keep a smile on her face and encourage everyone to stay calm to let them know we will get through it.”
Infection Preventionist Robin Breder, said, “This pandemic has shown she is able to stay abreast of the bumps and turns in its path while keeping the safety of Shore Medical Center her priority.”
Infection prevention touches every member of the Shore Medical Center organization, from dietary and environmental services to surgery and the ICU. During this pandemic, Szarzynski and her team have been on call 24/7 to help answer any questions our staff may have. They worked diligently to keep up with the fluid and ever-changing guidelines from the CDC, Department of Health, and the National Healthcare Safety Network, and they follow through to make sure staff fully understand these guidelines.
While not typically frontline staff, the infection prevention team has also been responsible for calling patients who were tested in the ER for COVID-19 and discharged home to let them know their test was positive. On these calls, they couple education with compassion.