Personality of the Month

Dina Nasser

Dina Nasser is a Palestinian public health nurse with a post-graduate specialization in operating room nursing. She received her RN degree from the Nightingale School of Nursing, St. Thomas’ Hospital, in London, United Kingdom, and her operating room specialization at Lewisham Hospital School of Nursing before obtaining her master’s degree in public health at Birzeit University. Her main areas of expertise are infection prevention and control and emergency-care training.

Dina has dedicated the majority of her career to improving the quality of health care services for all Palestinians. She has 35 years of clinical experience in the Palestinian health system and in the capacity building of health professionals. Her work has led to the development of national protocols and guidelines for infection prevention that have been endorsed by the Palestinian Ministry of Health. She has the ability to work with teams and adapt current settings to international standards to mitigate the risks of work in environments with limited resources in fragile economies. She is both a mentor and a role model for the new generation of nurses.

Dina facilitated the development of the infection-prevention program at Augusta Victoria Hospital and played a leadership role in the team working to ensure sustainability and alignment with international standards required for the International Joint Commission accreditation.

She began her clinical career at Makassed Hospital as an operating room nurse where she set out safety and infection-prevention standards. She worked with a Norwegian NGO to support operating room nurses who trained at Al-Ittihad Hospital in Nablus and helped develop the national curriculum for operating room nurses taught at Al-Quds University. Dina then assumed the position of deputy field nursing officer at UNRWA, moving on to the post of field nursing officer, where she remained for eight years, supporting the capacity building of nurses, promoting teamwork, and fostering the adoption of systems and standards in infection prevention and control for Qalqilya Hospital, particularly in the operating rooms.

She is among the founders of Juzoor for Health and Social Development and set up the first American Heart Association training center in Palestine, where she remains on the national faculty for basic life support, preparing new instructors and supporting national centers.

At Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) on the Mount of Olives, Dina started as a part-time health adviser in 2008 and served as the chief operating officer (COO) from 2019 to November 2020. In 2014 and 2018, she led the AVH missions to Gaza during some of the most tumultuous times, liaising effectively with stakeholders and the WHO in supporting care for the injured.

Dina has presented the work of the AVH infection prevention team at three conferences of the Association of Professionals in Infection Control (APIC) in the United States. At an APIC plenary session in 2019, she presented AVH’s national engagement in addressing antimicrobial stewardship and infection-prevention practices through a quality-improvement collaborative effort of 22 hospitals, including all Ministry of Health hospitals.

Her accomplishments in putting in place the protocols of infection prevention and hand hygiene at AVH became all the more important during the COVID pandemic when, as COO, she played a pivotal role on the front line with the emergency response team, supporting the staff and working with the ancillary teams to ensure readiness and safe practices to safeguard the health of AVH staff and patients.

Reflecting on the pandemic, she says, “I am grateful that we achieved some advances in hand hygiene during our national quality improvement collaborative, even though some health managers had been skeptical about our efforts in focusing on hand hygiene. Imagine what would have happened under COVID had the nation been three years behind!”

Guided by the nursing code of practice, Dina is a leader and a resource. Yet when the need arises, she works hand in hand to get the job done. She is particular about work quality and always encourages teams to communicate effectively and do better. Her trademark debriefing questions: “What went well? And how can we do better?”

This month’s issue COVID-19 Is Here to Stay. How Do We Cope?