I would hope that, as a society, we have seen what good infection prevention measures can accomplish and continue to regularly practice them. Things like frequent hand hygiene, staying home when feeling under the weather, covering our coughs, and keeping our environment clean especially those items that are frequently touched.
As part of my series about people who stepped up to make a difference during the COVID19 Pandemic, I had the pleasure of interviewing Doe Kley, RN, CIC, MPH,T-CHEST, Senior Infection Preventionist at Clorox Healthcare.
Doe Kley, RN, MPH, T-CHEST, CIC, is the senior infection preventionist for Clorox Healthcare. She first earned a bachelor’s degree in microbiology before pursuing her nursing degree and holds a master’s degree in public health from the University of Nevada, Reno. Doe has nearly 20 years of acute care infection prevention experience working in large healthcare systems such as Intermountain Healthcare in Utah and Kaiser Permanente in California. In her current role, she provides consultative services using her clinical expertise, input and review of key materials to not only support marketing and sales, but also the development of practice tools.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how and where you grew up?
No problem! I was a latch-key kid who grew in Los Angeles in the 1960s-1970s, moved to the Midwest to attend college, and met and married my then-husband in Utah where we raised our two sons (now of which are both in their 30s). I moved to the Bay Area in 2011 when Kaiser Permanente recruited me to manage the Infection Control program at one of the local hospitals. In 2018, I challenged myself with a career change — starting my role as a senior infection preventionist at Clorox. I am absolutely devoted, committed, and passionate about all things infection prevention and control.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
“The Five People You Meet in Heaven” by Mitch Albom. I love this story because it makes you realize the unexpected connections; we might have with one another. For example, if I were to run a red light but not get into a car accident, I would be thankful that my actions didn’t hurt someone else. However, I might not realize that I inadvertently caused a three-car pileup behind me. And then, of course, there is the opposite. My actions might have saved someone else’s life without me ever knowing it.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
“Statistics are human beings with the tears wiped off” by Paul Brodeur. In infection prevention and epidemiology, we deal with statistics every single day, and this quote has always kept me grounded that someone’s child, parent, grandparent, or friend is behind each number.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. You are currently leading a social impact organization that has stepped up during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to address?
Last summer, I learned through a friend that our local public health department in Alameda County, CA was looking for additional nurses at the shelters set up as part of the state’s Project RoomKey. With a full blown pandemic underfoot, I had been chomping at the bit to be able to put my infection prevention skills to work and contribute during the pandemic in a substantive way. I was hired part-time to supervise at the COVID-positive shelters. Since last July, I have been working every other weekend with medically fragile COVID-positive individuals in the hotels in an underserved area of East Oakland.
In your opinion, what does it mean to be a hero?
To me, being a hero is possessing the traits or characteristics that we most commonly associate with superheroes. I personally don’t consider myself a hero — I just so happen to possess a skill set that is in high demand right now and couldn’t just sit by during the pandemic without jumping in to action. Despite working closely with COVID-positive individuals, I never once feared for my own safety. I trust the science behind the measures that have been put into place (such as personal protective equipment like masks, social distancing, and environmental cleaning and disinfection), and am confident in my ability to break the chain of infection.
In your opinion or experience, what are “5 characteristics of a hero? Please share a story or example for each.
In my opinion, a hero must be selfless, dedicated, determined, and possess fortitude and perseverance.
If heroism is rooted in doing something difficult, scary, or even self-sacrificing, what do you think drives some people — ordinary people — to become heroes?
I think selflessness drives people to become heroes, since it’s an innate drive to serve and put others before oneself for the greater good.
What was the specific catalyst for you or your organization to take heroic action? At what point did you personally decide that heroic action needed to be taken?
For me, I think it was the moment that I heard from my friend that nurses were in short supply in my area. I knew that I had the infection prevention skills to help, and wanted to make a meaningful difference in my community. It was a natural fit for me to volunteer my time to assist those medically fragile, COVID-positive individuals staying in local shelters.
Who are your heroes, or who do you see as heroes today?
Dr. Fauci of course! My other heroes include all of the hard-working experts at the CDC, including Dr. Arjun Srinivasan, Dr. Michael Bell, Dr. Jay Butler, and Dr. Nancy Messonnier to name a few. Without their guidance, we would have been lost. But truly there are so many people who have made great personal sacrifices day after day and month and after month during this pandemic. My list would exceed the pages of this publication.
Let’s talk a bit about what is happening in the world today. What specifically frightened or frightens you most about the pandemic?
What frightens me the most is the potential to lose a close loved one, a friend, or a colleague. These emerging pathogens seem to be coming at us faster and harder than in the past. This virus that cannot even be seen with the naked eye has managed to bring the world to its knees. I don’t think we ever contemplated the ripple effect of a pandemic — schools closed, social events put on hold, impact on the economy — along with illness and death. Global travel has made our world much smaller which only contributes to the spread of these pathogens. The variants with their potential to escape immunity frightens me as well.
Despite that, what gives you hope for the future? Can you explain?
There are so many things that I’ve witnessed this past year or so that give me hope for the future! Working with various hotel staff members, I’ve seen people give of their time, money and many other parts of themselves to help complete strangers. During the holidays, staff members donated toys and games for the children staying in the hotels, as well as brought in activity books, movies and other items to keep the quarantining adults occupied help them feel less mentally isolated.
When both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines were granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Federal Drug Administration, I was beyond elated to go through proper training to help run the staff vaccination clinic. Along with a few of my coworkers, we administered nearly 140 first doses to our fellow shelter workers which included nurses, medical assistants, housing support staff, housekeepers, cooks and security guards. I was thrilled to do it all over again four weeks later. Being able to offer hope through a vaccine has brought me such joy and I’m looking forward to dedicating more volunteer time toward administering COVID-19 vaccinations to the general public in my county.
What has inspired you the most about the behavior of people during the pandemic, and what behaviors do you find most disappointing?
All of the nurses, spanning from recent graduates to recently retired, have rallied together to support this vulnerable population. Meanwhile, healthcare workers from all levels, departments and backgrounds continue to work together for a common purpose, without ego or hierarchy getting in the way. I’m disappointed by individuals who buy into the many conspiracy theories floating around today.
Has this crisis caused you to reassess your view of the world or of society? We would love to hear what you mean.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been challenged to reassess my view of how society responds to individuals with complicated social, mental health or substance abuse issues. Many of our patients (or “guests”) are often dealing with these issues, so not only are the nurses monitoring their COVID illnesses, we are often tasked with monitoring for additional complications. Some also have complex health issues, like diabetes, so we work diligently to coordinate the appropriate care. Meeting these patients’ social and other medical needs is not easy when they may also be battling COVID-19.
What permanent societal changes would you like to see come out of this crisis?
I would hope that, as a society, we have seen what good infection prevention measures can accomplish and continue to regularly practice them. Things like frequent hand hygiene, staying home when feeling under the weather, covering our coughs, and keeping our environment clean -especially those items that are frequently touched.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
When we put others needs ahead of our own, we are living a purpose-driven life. Having a purpose is energizing! It has been proven to increase optimism, resiliency, and hope. We need these things in the world today.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Seeing how masking and social distancing has positively impacted influenza transmission (considering that we have pretty much eliminated our flu season this year), I am inclined to think that, in addition to getting our flu shots, we should consider universal masking during every flu season. Think of how many lives could be saved!
Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
It would have to be the CDC’s Dr. Arjun Srinivasan. His calm and wisdom has been steadfast, spanning my entire infection prevention career of 20+ years. He has never gotten “so big” that he wouldn’t take time to answer this little IP’s questions through email correspondence.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!