PUBLIC HEALTH PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE
Cultivating a Culture of Biosafety
By Michael Marsico , MS , senior specialist , Biosafety and Biosecurity
Public health laboratory biosafety leadership is viewed as a two-pronged issue , as biosafety professionals for their respective institutions are expected to address internal biosafety risks and gain personnel buy-in to establish and maintain a positive biosafety culture both internally and externally with their sentinel laboratory partners . Public health laboratories need biosafety leaders who embrace change , manage people and processes efficiently and anticipate future needs in order to foster a successful biosafety program .
Recognizing the need for enhancing biosafety professional leadership skills , APHL convened regional leadership workshops in 2017-2018 along with conducting the 2018 BioSafe360 ° program in partnership with Safer Behaviors . This unique program was designed to advance the cognitive and applied biosafety skills of biosafety professionals , with the goal of transforming them into laboratory leaders .
New York State Department of Health-Wadsworth Center
Melissa D ’ Amico , MLS ( ASCP ) CM , research scientist , Biodefense Laboratory Michael J . Perry , MS , MS Ed , associate director , Biodefense Laboratory
At the Wadsworth Center we have been able to build relationships between laboratory staff and clinical laboratory partners across the state through in-person site visits and participation in the BioSafe360 ° program delivered onsite and virtually . Through site visits with clinical laboratories , we have been able to develop a relationship in which the laboratories feel comfortable contacting us with any questions or concerns . The open communication can be attributed to the approach that was taken during site visits , which were used as an opportunity to share experiences . We were able to approach visits by bringing up the number of Brucella
exposures that have occurred throughout the state to generate buy in towards safer laboratory practices . We also provided them with contact information , biothreat agent bench cards , risk assessment templates and steps to follow if they suspect a biothreat agent . Our initiative to reach out to these laboratories has paid off — on multiple occasions , the clinical laboratories have contacted Wadsworth Center to assist in ruling out clinical specimens for biothreat agents . We even had some clinical laboratorians say that had we not been to their laboratories , they would have processed potential biothreat agents instead of sending them to our laboratory .
Over the last 4-5 years , three staff of the Wadsworth Center have been members of the APHL Biosafety and Biosecurity Committee ( BBC ). Being a member of the BBC provides an opportunity to stay informed of the key biosafety issues and concerns facing public health laboratories across the US . In addition to understanding biosafety issues , the BBC allows for its members to contribute to solutions that can then be implemented at the Wadsworth Center . The monthly calls and annual meetings provided a unique opportunity to learn from others in biosafety leadership positions at other public health laboratories and institutions . Personal experiences and expertise is shared between facilities to facilitate a more uniform perspective on biosafety . n
Melissa D ’ Amico doffs personal protective equipment after working inside a BSC based on techniques learned from the BioSafe360 ° Program . Photo : New York State Department of Health-Wadsworth Center