What is VICNISS?               

The primary aim of the VICNISS Coordinating Centre is to reduce the occurrence of healthcare associated infections (HAIs) in Victoria. VICNISS operates across both public and private hospitals and residential aged care. This includes any infection associated with any form of healthcare, primarily acquired while in hospital, but also during periods of outpatient treatment such as haemodialysis or hospital in the home. People living in residential aged care are at increased risk of contracting these types of infection and having poor outcomes. We provide the following support and frameworks for our networked facilities:
      • Monitoring and reporting of infections and related events to hospitals and the Department of Health
      • Promotion of best practice through education and support of all staff responsible for infection control programs
      • Enhancing quality care in hospitals and residential aged care through standardised and data-driven program delivery
Why do we monitor healthcare associated infections? Surveillance and associated reporting surveillance data to healthcare facilities has been demonstrated to result in reductions of up to 30% of HAIs. Many healthcare infections are preventable. Surveillance provides a baseline rate of infections, and provides an early warning if infections are increasing. Hospitals and other facilities can act on surveillance data to improve processes and practices and evaluate the outcomes. VICNISS - What we do (pdf)

Why do patients get healthcare associated infections?

Patients undergoing medical treatment are at increased risk of contracting an infection for a number of reasons, including:
      • Use of invasive medical equipment e.g. needles and intravenous devices
      • Surgery and other wounds which breach skin integrity
      • Diseases and treatments (e.g. chemotherapy) which suppress the immune system
The major activity of the Coordinating centre is to collate and analyse data and information (surveillance) from hospitals and aged care facilities in Victoria.  All Victorian public and private hospitals are required to perform appropriate surveillance for healthcare associated infections and relevant processes.  Aged care facilities currently participate on a voluntary basis.  For more information please see “what is surveillance”                    

Information gleaned from the surveillance is used to identify hospitals with higher than expected infection rates or lower than expected quality measures.  This information is fed back (via the Department of Health’s safety and quality improvement processes) to health service executives who are in a position to address issues of concern and instigate necessary actions.

Programs coordinated by VICNISS

*For certain surgeries patients are given one or more antibiotics immediately prior to surgery to help prevent developing an infection

Reporting Mechanisms


The Coordinating Centre collates the data and provides reports to the Department of Health, as well as to participating hospitals.  These reports are accessible by infection control staff as well as by quality improvement personnel, surgeons, executives and other authorised persons who log into VICNISS via a secure online portal. Participating hospital staff have access to their own hospital data, to aggregated data for the State and in some cases to de-identified data from other hospitals. 

VICNISS Coordinating Centre publishes Annual or Bi-Annual Reports, that can be accessed here which contain data about infection rates for the State of Victoria.  Some data on SAB and CLABSI infection rates provided to VICNISS from individual hospitals is available at the following links: 
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) SAB rates 2018-19
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) SAB rates  2016-17
Victorian Agency for Heath Information (VAHI) 


VICNISS Expertise


The VICNISS Coordinating Centre, funded by the Department of Health, is staffed by a multidisciplinary team comprising of infectious disease physicians, senior infection control nurses consultants, epidemiologists/biostatisticians, and information technology (database and applications development) experts.

VICNISS staff provide education to hospital staff on infection surveillance and other infection control issues including new and emerging infections. There is also a comprehensive hand hygiene education program in Victoria coordinated by VICNISS.

VICNISS staff construct and modify tools to assist hospitals with reduction of infections (for example checklists to monitor insertion and care of catheters inserted into veins used to administer fluids and medications). VICNISS staff also assist hospitals with infection outbreaks, local education and respond to general enquiries.
To contact VICNISS click here

VICNISS Staff Profiles 

Associate Professor Deb Friedman, Director VICNISS 
Associate Professor Deborah Friedman is the newly appointed Director of VICNISS. She is an infectious diseases specialist at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, a clinical researcher at the Doherty Institute and an Honorary Associate Professor at The University of Melbourne.
She completed her Infectious Diseases Fellowship at Duke University Medical Center, and her MD in the area of Infection Control and hospital-acquired infections and has completed a Masters of Public Health. She previously served as Deputy Chief Health Officer for Victoria until 2023, and as an infectious diseases physician, clinical researcher and an educator of medical students and physician trainees at Barwon health and Deakin University.
Dr Ann Bull, Epidemiologist and Operastions Director VICNISS      
Ann has been at VICNISS since 2002. Ann completed a PhD in molecular biology before working for 8 years with the Commonwealth Environment Department in Canberra and then in Kakadu National Park. She has since completed a Masters in Applied Epidemiology. Ann is particularly interested in surgical antibiotic prophylaxis and other process indicators for infection prevention.
Associate Professor Leon Worth, Infectious Diseases Physician
Leon joined VICNISS in 2007. He is an infectious diseases physician with post-graduate training in epidemiology, biostatistics and public health, and holds co-appointment as clinician and medical lead to infection prevention departments at two health services in Melbourne. In 2011 he completed his PhD evaluating surveillance strategies for catheter-associated bloodstream infections in immunocompromised patients. His interest is in validity and integrity of reporting frameworks for surveillance data. He is a member of the Healthcare Associated Infection Technical Working Group and Antimicrobial Use and Resistance in Australia Project Reference Group of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare.

Dr Lyn-li Lim, Infectious Diseases Physician

Lyn-li joined VICNISS in 2019. She is an infectious diseases physician with post-graduate training in epidemiology, public health and medical administration, and holds a co-appointment as a physician and antimicrobial stewardship lead at a public health service in Melbourne. Lyn-li has interests in surgical prophylaxis and optimising the use of healthcare-associated surveillance data.

Associate Professor Noleen Bennett, CNC Infection Control  
       
Noleen has been with VICNISS since 2002 as a Senior Infection Control Consultant and is the primary contact for the Type 2 (smaller hospitals) program. Prior to this she was employed as a Senior Infection Control Consultant at Monash Medical Centre. Noleen obtained her Doctor of Philosophy in 2011. The title of her thesis was 'The development and evaluation of the Victorian hospital acquired infection surveillance program for smaller public acute care hospitals'.
Donna Taylor (Monday - Wednesday) CNC Infection Control
Donna joined VICNISS in December 2021 to assist with Hand Hygiene and the Type 2 (smaller hospitals) program. Donna has over 7 years experience in Infection Prevention & Control in both Queensland & Victoria working in public hospitals as the Clinical Nurse Consultant. She is a member of the Australian College for Infection Prevention & Control (ACIPAC) and her qualifications include Post Graduate Certificate in Nursing Science (Infection Control Nursing), Post Graduate Certificate in Critical Care, Accredited Nurse Immuniser, Pre & Post-Test Counsellor for Blood Borne Virus certificate and Gold Standard Hand Hygiene Auditor. 


Sam Dickson CNC Infection Control

Sam Dickson is a Senior Clinical Nurse Consultant with expertise in infection prevention and control. With a proven track record of success, she has effectively coordinated IPC programs and led both large and small metropolitan health services to achieve NSQHS Accreditation. Sam holds a Master of Advanced Practice (Infection Control) from Griffith University and is a skilled Nurse Immuniser, Gold Standard Hand Hygiene Auditor, and HIV & Hepatitis C pre/post-test counsellor.  In addition, she brings valuable experience as a clinical research nurse and has undergone training in ICH Good Clinical Practice E6 (R2) standards.

Kylie SnookCNC Infection Control
Kylie has a nursing career spanning over 25 years, predominantly in acute public hospitals. She expanded her expertise by earning a Graduate Certificate in Infection Prevention in 2010 and is presently pursuing her Masters in Public Health. As an Infection Prevention Consultant for 14 years, Kylie's wealth of experience was recognized by VICNISS, which appointed her as a Senior Infection Prevention Consultant in 2023. She now leads the larger hospital surveillance program in her role. 

Khosi Dube, CNC Infection Control, CNC Infection Control

Khosi is a nurse with 17 years’ experience specialising in surgical and theatre nursing. With a commitment to preventing healthcare associated infections, Khosi attained a graduate certificate in infection control which led to her work as an infection control consultant in New Zealand. Most recently, Khosi has been actively involved in IPC work with the Department of Health, playing a key role in supporting COVID-19 outbreak management, strengthening stakeholders/responders' response and providing IPC advice.  Khosi joined VICNISS in September 2022 coordinating the hospital COVID-19 patient monitoring activities performed in collaboration with the Department of Health. 



Roland Laguitan (MCSD ®, Umbraco Certified Developer), IT Manager
Senior DevOps and Business Intelligence Developer: Roland joined Victorian Nosocomial Infection Surveillance System (VICNISS) Coordinating Centre in September 2013 as an Information Technology (IT) Analyst. Throughout his time at VICNISS, he has been responsible for our information technology environment, with focus on the end-to-end web application development /implementation, business intelligence (BI), data mining and reporting that supports the Centre’s core missions. He is Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer: Web Applications and Umbraco Certified Developer. He has more than a decade of extensive experience, working with a broad range of technologies, in system analysis/design, web development and business intelligence. Throughout his career, he has been engaged and built numerous web and desktop applications as well as native mobile apps from small up to enterprise level.  In 2023 Roland took over the role as VICNISS IT Manager.


Ling Wang, .Net/SQL Programmer
        
Ling joined VICNISS as a software developer in 2008 after completing her master degree in Information Technology. She is an experienced Microsoft.NET developer and has profound knowledge of SQL. Her postgraduate study covers many technology fields such as database programming and web development. She has also acquired advanced training in Microsoft SQL Server technologies. Her work focuses on the implementation of analytical reports on healthcare data and the extension of web applications.
Arpita Patel, Business Intelligence Developer 
Arpita joined VICNISS in 2019 as a Business Intelligence reporting developer and is involved in the development and ongoing enhancement of VICNISS reports. Arpita has a Master’s degree in Information Technology Management Studies and her postgraduate studies have covered a variety of fields including project management, database management and web development. Prior to joining VICNISS Arpita worked as a BI developer in the technology product development field.

Atatl Malavde, .Net Developer
Atal joined VICNISS in 2023 as a software developer and is involved in the design and implementation of web applications. A passionate software engineer, he has experience in designing, implementing and testing robust solutions for high-capacity organizations. Having obtained his Bachelor of Software Engineering degree in 2018, Atal is experienced in designing commercial software solutions with the Microsoft.NET technology stack and has considerable knowledge of the end to end application development process. Atal has joined VICNISS as part of the NISPAC team.

 

Rashedul Hasan, Database Developer/Administrator
Rashedul joined VICNISS in May 2023.  With a solid academic foundation, he has achieved both a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Computer Science and Engineering back in 2008. Rashedul’s career in database development and programming led him to notable positions, and prior to joining VICNISS, contributed as a Database Developer at the University of Auckland, playing a pivotal role in various clinical trial projects across Australia and New Zealand.  He has completed a GCP (Good Clinical Practice) certification and is proficient in the realms of .Net and SQL server technology. Within the VICNISS team, his role extends to encompass SQL Database administration and management, alongside developing and improving infection modules utilising.NET technologies.
Dr Michael Malloy, Biostatistician
Michael joined VICNISS in June 2019 as a Biostatistician. He has training in both mathematics and statistics and completed a PhD in Statistics in 2014. Prior to this role he was employed as the Statistician at VCS Foundation, as part of their population health research team.  During this time he was also tutoring/demonstrating post-graduate biostatistical courses at The University of Melbourne.



Stephanie Tanamas, Epidemiologist (Monday- Thursday


Stephanie commenced her role as Epidemiologist with the VICNISS group in October 2022. Stephanie completed her PhD in Epidemiology in 2012 and spent two years as a Visiting Research Fellow at The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (USA). She previously worked as an Epidemiologist and Data Analyst at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute and at World Mosquito Program Pty Ltd. In these roles, she led and facilitated numerous national and international epidemiological studies, including project planning, implementation, and data analysis.
 

Andrea Brebner, Office Administration (Monday - Thursday)

Andrea joined VICNISS in 2018 having spent over seven years at the Royal Children's Hospital, providing administration and laboratory support at both the RCH and the Royal Women's Hospital.  Prior to this she spent many years in various support roles having found great satisfaction in helping those around her, doing the various everyday activities to help those in the team get on with the bigger tasks at hand. Andrea is the voice who most likely great you when you phone for any query and if she can't help you she will definitely know who in the VINCISS team to put you in touch with. 

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