Lab Matters Summer 2018 - Page 23

public health preparedness and response APHL Biosafety Peer Network Strengthens Connections by Sean Page, associate specialist, Public Health Preparedness and Response Since its inception in 2016, the Biosafety Peer Network has facilitated 24 site visits in 23 states across the US. During a site visit, the visiting biosafety officer (BSO) participates in extensive laboratory tours, analyzes the current biosafety processes and policies of the host laboratory, evaluates the clinical laboratory outreach techniques of the host BSO, identifies areas that could utilize stronger biosecurity measures and develops ideas for improving internal and external biosafety trainings. By participating in the exchange, public health laboratories have improved the implementation of their biosafety and biosecurity programs. Delaware-Minnesota Mentorship Exchange As a participant in any new program, it is normal to have a healthy level of skepticism. When the Delaware Public Health Laboratory (DE PHL) was selected as a member of APHL’s Year 2 Biosafety Peer Network cohort, BSO Marion Fowler felt concerned that “she didn’t have enough time for another meeting” and worried that since DE PHL is a rather small laboratory, it would not be able to offer the experiences of a larger laboratory. But during her site visit to the Minnesota Department of Health Public Health Laboratory (MN PHL), she encountered an unexpected benefit from the exchange. She and Lundquist were invited by National Ebola Training and Education Center (NETEC) staff to visit the University of Minnesota Medical Center and attend their full-scale exercise. By participating, Fowler was able to witness a site assessment of an Ebola Treatment Center and gather pertinent information for the benefit of DE PHL. Eric Lundquist, BSO for MN PHL, was excited to tackle the new experience. During his tour of DE PHL, he discovered the laboratory has an excellent Safety Committee. Upon returning to MN, Lundquist followed DE’s example by collaborating with Bonita Bryant, senior quality improvement specialist for the Infectious Disease Laboratory Section, and other staff to form a Safety Task Force, which meets monthly and includes representatives from each lab section. The Task Force addresses safety topics and proposes solutions which are submitted to leadership for review and approval. By the end of their journey together, Marion said that “this was one of the best learning experiences in the 40+ years of my career. The sharing of BSO ND BSO Tracy Hoke with AK BSO John Laurence and other AK PHL staff members. Photo: AK PHL experiences, procedures and testing experiences ended up working both ways. In effect, there were six total days of learning experiences!” Alaska-North Dakota Mentorship Exchange When it comes to laboratory biosafety and biosecurity programs, biosafety will often receive much more attention than biosecurity. However, the exchange between Alaska State Public Health Laboratory (AK PHL) and the North Dakota Department of Health Division of Laboratory Services (ND PHL) proved to be very biosecurity-centric. During her site visit, ND PHL BSO Tracy Hoke was very impressed by the security and facilities management throughout the facility. “The most valuable aspect of the Biosafety Peer Network to me was to see how a Tier 1 Select Agent laboratory operates,” she said. While conducting his site visit, AK PHL BSO John Laurence learned how North Dakota monitors key fridges and freezers using a remote monitoring system. In fact, his laboratory has been interested in implementing a similar system in recent years. “It was great to see the everyday challenges and successes another laboratory has,” said Laurence. “A few days of seeing what they [BSOs] are really doing means as much to me as a whole week of training and networking” n DIGITAL EXTRA: APHL’s Biosafety Peer Network serves as a common source of guidance in standardizing biosafety and biosecurity practices across participating laboratories. APHL is currently accepting applications for the Year 3 Biosafety Peer Network. Read more. APHL Biosafety Peer Network PublicHealthLabs @APHL Summer 2018 LAB MATTERS 21