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Jodie Leonard, BS, RN, CIC Wins APIC Hero of Infection Prevention Award

Gunnison Valley Health’s Director of Infection Prevention and Employee Health, Jodie Leonard, BS, RN, CIC, was recently awarded the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) Heroes of Infection Prevention Award in the Leadership Category. Leonard, nominated by her peers, is one of only six exemplary infection preventionists (or teams) who received this award across the nation.  

According to APIC, “The Heroes of Infection Prevention Award recognizes APIC members and/or their infection prevention and control (IPC) teams who have successfully applied one of APIC’s future oriented competency domains aimed to reduce infection risks for patients across the continuum of care.”  

“It is exciting to see rural medicine be recognized – we have always done the same amount of work as big organizations; we just don’t have the resources they do,” said Leonard. “I appreciate that APIC puts us on the same playing field.”  

Leonard was an important part of Gunnison Valley Health’s COVID-19 response team, serving as the operations chief for Gunnison County’s One Valley Incident Command. Some of her duties included overseeing nursing home protocols, staff symptom screening, mandatory screening tests, PPE training and fit testing.  

Leonard and her team directed the development of the offsite alternate care site for the potential COVID-19 surge. They also helped oversee the development of fourteen additional negative pressure rooms in the hospital.   

Leonard and the unified command team worked with the research epidemiology team to establish a tiered approach to testing, which later was used to administer COVID vaccines. In an ever-changing environment, she helped ensure all new information was researched to ensure that the unified command was operating with the best possible information.  

“As new guidelines emerged, it really took a collaboration of ideas from different infection preventionists and public health officials to roll out a new change with authority,” Leonard said. “Limiting significant changes to workflow once per week helped with morale, too.”  

“We are incredibly proud of Jodie's recent award and have been lucky enough to see her efforts and expertise on a daily basis. Over the past two years Jodie has not only helped effectively guide and steer GVH through the pandemic but has been a key resource and leader for our county's efforts. Jodie is passionate about the safety and well-being of our organization and community, and this is on display regularly,” said Gunnison Valley Health CEO, Jason Amrich.  

“This award is a great honor. I am so grateful for my peers who nominated me and to all those who have been part of the COVID-19 Response Team for Gunnison,” said Leonard. “I am grateful I get to serve the Gunnison Valley.”