Manager, Healthcare Associated Infections and Infection Prevention and Control Section,
Centre for Communicable Disease Prevention and Control
Public Health Agency of Canada
With over 36 years of experience in the nursing profession, including 10 years working at the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), Kathy Dunn has a true understanding of the importance of preventing and managing infections. She has seen first-hand how bugs can outsmart us and how infections can have long-lasting —even fatal — effects. Experiencing outbreaks first-hand has made her very passionate about promoting healthy practices on a national scale.
Kathy’s background in critical care includes caring for HIV patients in the early days, before AIDS was well understood. That was the first time she saw the impact of an emerging infectious disease.
In 2003, Kathy was part of Health Canada’s Epidemiology Investigation Team during the SARS outbreak. She was then recruited to work with PHAC shortly after it was established in 2004. Among the many important roles she has played, Kathy was the Infection Control Lead during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, she was a member of the Ebola Rapid Response Team in 2014 and she played a role in the Syrian Refugee response in 2015.
“A career highlight for me was being able to leverage my education, research, practical experience, and skill set during the Ebola crisis in 2014,” Kathy told us. As a member of the Ebola Rapid Response Team, she had the opportunity to work with health experts across Canada to prepare for the global health threat.
Kathy is currently the Manager of Healthcare Associated Infections and Infection Prevention and Control at PHAC in Ottawa, Ontario. She is helping to develop and oversee the implementation of PHAC’s Infection Control Guidelines to promote best practices and positively influence the health of Canadians. In this role, Kathy often represents the Government of Canada at national and international meetings, where she helps respond to emerging public health threats and promote best practices in our health care system.
“I enjoy the international aspects of my role and the exposure to scientific developments,” she told us. “It allows me to gain a broader perspective -to help address emerging health issues and public health response at the national and global levels.”
Kathy is engaged and inspired by her leadership role in the area of professional guidelines and public health practice at the federal level. However, she fondly remembers the personal interactions and intimate moments spent caring for patients and families in her early years as a nurse. It is these experiences that continue to guide her, providing the foundation for a rewarding career and her current work with PHAC.
Visit Canada.ca for more information on the Infection Control Guidelines Series and infectious diseases.
For more stories like this, visit Women in Science.