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The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) announced that this year’s International Infection Prevention Week (IIPW), Oct. 18-24, will shine a spotlight on the infection preventionist’s (IP’s) invaluable role protecting frontline healthcare workers and patients from COVID-19.

IPs are patient safety experts who work to prevent infections in healthcare facilities like hospitals and nursing homes. IIPW is an annual awareness campaign organized by APIC to highlight the importance of infection prevention. To recognize the efforts of IPs, the 2020 theme for IIPW is #WeLoveIPs.

“Infection preventionists form the backbone of risk mitigation efforts around the country, but because their goal is to prevent something from happening, it’s harder to see what they do,” says APIC 2020 President, Connie Steed, in a press release. “COVID-19 has shown the world how crucial IPs are in keeping our communities safe. During IIPW, APIC will lead efforts to recognize and celebrate the critically important work of IPs.”

During COVID-19, IPs have been pivotal in safeguarding the health of Americans, from ensuring that healthcare workers wear their personal protective equipment (PPE) correctly, to making certain that routine medical visits can continue during the pandemic. They have developed plans for hospital surge capacity, prepared COVID units in hospitals and alternate care sites, evaluated and implemented frequently changing guidance, navigated the supply chain to obtain needed PPE, facilitated safer care in nursing homes, consulted with businesses and schools to identify safe practices for resumption of in-person activities, and myriad other things.

During this year’s IIPW, APIC will post IP stories and shareable social media content so nurses, doctors, and patients can thank IPs for their vital contributions to public health. APIC is also sponsoring a series of wellness events to help IPs recharge and rejuvenate as communities gear up for surges of COVID-19 and the seasonal flu.

Healthcare companies and associations have also pledged their support during IIPW.

“We are grateful to industry champions and association partners who have joined APIC to improve safety and recognize our IPs as healthcare superstars,” says Steed.

Visit apic.org/iipw to access APIC’s COVID-19 factsheets, infection prevention infographics, and social media content.