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Health & Wellness

Infection Preventionist Assists Public Agencies in Preventing Epidemics

Alejandro (Alex) Ledesma is an infection control specialist at Kern Valley Healthcare District. He told the Kern Valley Sun that the hospital uses the data he composes to come alongside Kern County Public Health, the California Department of Public Health and the National Health Safety Network to protect public health from the spread of illness.

Ledesma has been a dedicated professional in the health industry for many years. He currently performs surveillance, attaining information from electronic medical records, including symptoms, laboratory results, diagnoses, prescriptions, treatments and patient progress information. This information assists physicians and ensures that patients receive proper care. The information helps monitor trends in epidemics within the patients’ geographic locations.

If a patient does not complete a course of antibiotics, the infection will become more resistant.

“That’s why we have antibiotic stewardship at our hospital,” Ledesma said. “The doctors and the pharmacists work very close together making sure the patients are getting the appropriate antibiotic.”

At monthly committee meetings, staff discuss multi-dose resistant organisms as well as the efficacy of existing antibiotics. Dr. Franco Felizarta, an infectious disease doctor and a pharmacist who monitors the use of antibiotics heads the committee.

When people have compromised immunity, bugs can become opportunistic. One focus at the hospital is the training of nurses and staff.

“The first and foremost thing anybody can do to prevent infection is hand-washing,” Ledesma said. “We do a lot of environmental testing on patient rooms.”

The testing and follow-up ensure that the bacterial load is down to a minimum after each room is cleaned. Staff members still wear face masks and are tested if they have symptoms. COVID-19 testing is still advised for staff members who have symptoms.

Ledesma explained that once a patient leaves the hospital’s care, it is important to follow up with their primary care physician.

“I started off as an emergency medical technician back in the early ‘90s,” he said. “I knew I liked the medical field.”

This was how Ledesma met his wife, Ana, who was working as a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) at the time.

“She always inspired me. I saw the passion and compassion she had in her nursing,” he said.

Ledesma earned his LVN in 2000 and worked as an LVN, for about eight years while he earned his registered nurse license, completing it in 2010.

From there, he was a medical-surgical nurse caring for fresh post-op patients, with acute illness, on the floor with a team of nurses.

“As fate would have it, I came over here to the Kern River Valley,” he said. “I started working here at the hospital.”

After leaving that job, Ledesma provided home health care in the valley for three years. He and his wife worked for two different companies doing home health care: Optimal Home Health and Around the Clock Care.

Mark Gordon, chief nursing officer, invited Ledesma to take the position of infection preventionist at Kern Valley Hospital. Ledesma was extremely happy to come back home where he started in our valley over 13 years ago.

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