How Did SPECT Begin?
In the fall of 2011 Christina Fast, an internationally certified Sterile Processing Technician from Canada, spent several weeks volunteering on the Africa Mercy (the world's largest floating hospital) as a sterile processor. At the time the ship was berthed in Freetown, Sierra Leone and on one of her non-working days, Christina visited a local hospital to see the operating theatres, the decontamination and sterilization areas, and to observe the process and flow of the surgical instruments. What she saw overwhelmed her! Initially in disbelief at the unsterile conditions she witnessed, Christina proceeded to visit additional hospitals and soon discovered that her initial visit was not that unusual. Staff responsible for sterilizing had no specialized training but were generally nurses who took on this role as part of their duties; instrument cleaning was inadequate due to lack of training and proper cleaning supplies; decontamination, sterilization and storage of "sterile" instruments often all occurred in the same small room leading to a high likelihood of cross-contamination; surgical instruments were in short supply or badly in need of replacement; the walls and surfaces in the OR's and sterilization areas were often stained from years of inadequate cleaning; and some hospitals had rooms full of old sterilizing equipment no longer operational for a variety of reasons.
All of these observations deeply impacted Christina. Upon her return to Canada, she approached family and friends and shared her vision of starting an organization to "do something" about all that she had seen. Her passion was contagious and the idea of SPECT was borne.