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Li Liuyi: 42,000 Relief Medics' Protector

APR . 21 2020
Peking University, April 20, 2020: Li Liuyi is a researcher, Master's supervisor, and director of the Infection Management-Disease Prevention and Control Bureau of the Peking University First Hospital, and member of the National Health Commission COVID-19 Panel.


At 8:30 a.m. on January 21st, the telephone rang in Dr. Li Liuyi's office. It was the National Health Commission, which sent Li into combat mode. The call was about the COVID-19 epidemic, and as soon as Li received her instructions, she rushed to the airport, boarded a 10:10 a.m. plane and arrived in Wuhan at 2:00 p.m..


When Li arrived in Wuhan, she realized the situation was much more critical than she had thought; There was a huge shortage of medical personnel and supplies, and an increasingly unbearable amount of work that needed to be done. As a professional in hospital infection control, it is Li and her team's job to control the spread of disease and minimize the number of healthcare-associated infections. If the fight against this epidemic was like a war without guns, then the medical staff were the troops on the front line, and Dr. Li was their guardian angel keeping them safe in the trenches. Thanks to their work, the spread of the epidemic was controlled, and not a single one of the 40,000 medical aid workers were infected.


All members of the medical aid teams were required to be trained by Li's team in how to properly use protective equipment and carry out disinfection and quarantine procedures before they went to the front lines in Wuhan. Li's temporary training sessions were held in conference halls, outdoor plazas, and between buildings. Sometimes, when teams arrived late at night and had to be ready for work the next day, she had to split her time in the evening to train them. She often had to adjust her busy schedule to accommodate teaching five to six times a day, but she never missed a training session.


 

Li Liuyi's Training Course


In addition to training medical personnel, she also helped with researching and supervising infection prevention and control (IPC) work in cities of Wuhan, Xiaogan, Huanggang, Xiaogan, and Suizhou. She would examine hospital layouts, monitoring equipment and disinfection and isolation measures before putting forward suggestions to help hospitals prevent the infection of medical personnel and patients.


 Li Liuyi doing supervisory work at the Fangcang Hospital

Taking into account the specific needs of Hubei and Wuhan, Dr. Li participated in the development and implementation of infection prevention practices guidelines, including a technical guide on the prevention and control of COVID-19 in medical institutions (Version 1) and the guidelines on the use of common medical protective equipment in controlling COVID-19, issued by the National Health Commission.


Since 2003, the government has formulated a series of laws and regulations related to the prevention and control of infectious diseases, including special regulations for hospitals. Hospitals at all levels have established departments and teams responsible for prevention work, and these departments cooperate with each other to create a fairly smooth system for preventing and controlling infectious diseases. Specific measures, such as the standardization of patient isolation procedures, the provision of handwashing stations and quick-dry disinfectant, have accelerated the ability of the Chinese medical system to prevent and control infectious diseases.

However, the outbreak of COVID-19 has exposed weaknesses in this system. Though hospital staffs have nearly doubled, Li thinks that a city like Wuhan should have at least one infection prevention and control specialist per 100 patients under normal circumstances, and one IPC specialist per 30 patients during a severe epidemic.


  Li and her team

Wuhan Hospital was not up to this standard. Fortunately, medical aid teams from all over the country brought in more than 330 IPC specialists to make up for this shortfall, which is one of the main reasons why they managed to avoid any infections among the medical aid teams.

Li believes that medical institutions at all levels must take the construction of IPC organizations in hospitals very seriously and expand and improve IPC training for healthcare professionals, because the prevention and control of infections in hospitals is a prerequisite for providing quality medical care. She hopes that medical schools will organize more IPC courses and train more IPC specialists, and that the other major medical departments will also include more compulsory IPC courses into their curriculum.


  Li supervising hospital infection prevention and control at the Lei Shen Shan Hospital

During the SARS outbreak in 2003, Li was head of the Infection Control Team at the hospital that was designated for the treatment of SARS in Beijing. Peking University ran three sick wards with a total of 700 medical personnel, and none were infected.


  Infection control work during the SARS outbreak

In the winter of 2020, when the novel coronavirus outbreak occurred, Li was once again put in command, and none of 40,000 medical aid workers sent to Wuhan were infected. "This is just what I do. Though you could see this as a war, I'm already a veteran," she said.

Now the winter has passed, and spring has arrived on the Peking University campus, waiting for the hero to return!

Translator:
Yoori Jo
Editor: Amanda Hu, Trevor
Photo: PKU Health Science Center, Health News
Designer: Pu Hairui
Source: PKU Health Science Center