Infection Prevention


Infection Prevention is a hospital department that prescribes procedures to prevent infection. Infectious diseases are caused by microscopic viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi. These germs are everywhere - they can be "in" us or "around" us. Infectious disease takes a huge personal toll: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates Americans take four million sick days per year. Almost $950 billion is spent in direct medical costs to combat infection. Over 160,000 die from infectious diseases each year, not counting AIDS. Infectious diseases can include the common cold, and deadly diseases like E.coli infections or Hantavirus Respiratory Syndrome (aerolized virus spread from rodents to humans). New and emerging infectious diseases include invasive strep infections, tuberculosis, malaria, and AIDS. Infectious diseases are on the rise due to a number of converging factors, says the CDC: Not washing hands often enough - after handling food, after each sneeze or cough, after handling pets (and the list goes on);

  • Worldwide population growth and immigration;
  • Increasing international travel;
  • Changes in food processing and handling;
  • Human intervention in wilderness habitats that are home for infects or animals carrying infectious agents;
  • Natural disasters;
  • Microbial evolution that is resistant to current antibiotics and antimicrobial medications - often attributed to antibiotic overuse.

The following health information is supplied by the Center for Disease Controls and Prevention:

Infection Prevention & Control at McLaren Bay Region

McLaren Bay Region's Infection Prevention Department is the primary education source for all healthcare personnel on minimizing the risk of infection spread to patients. The goal: have healthcare-acquired infections be as close to 0% as possible.

Dr. Darrell Stuart is an infectious disease specialist practicing in Bay City, and chairs the Infection Control Committee at McLaren Bay Region.

You come to the hospital because you are seriously ill, or because you're scheduled for surgery. The last thing you, or McLaren Bay Region, wants is for you to develop an infection during your stay. Preventing infections, while attending to your medical condition or surgery, is the foremost priority of your medical care team.

"We all carry 'microbial flora' outside and inside our bodies," says Karen Frahm, MPH, CIC, McLaren Bay Region's Infection Control Preventionists. "So, it's particularly important for us to keep tabs on new microbial invaders so we can identify high-risk patients. Equally important is for every physician and staff member, and patient visitors to perform hand hygiene before entering a patient's room and as you leave a patient room."

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates 80% of all hospital-based infections come with the patient (unknowingly) upon admission. Many patients, having been treated with antibiotics for chronic conditions, have immune systems resistant to some of our most potent anti-microbial medications. Every invasive procedure, from a shot, to intravascular medications, to surgery, brings some risk of bloodstream infections or pneumonias.

"Today," says Karen Frahm, "hospitals see the very sickest of patients. Some come with compromised immune systems, chronic conditions, and skin wounds, and we must do everything humanly possible to provide them with a safe and clean environment. This starts with Standard Precautions for every patient "“ wearing gloves, and a gown and mask if necessary.

McLaren Bay Region is taking a proactive approach in caring for our patients who have or have had a multi-drug resistant organism, or MDRO infection. When a patient arrives at the hospital and has, or had, an MDRO they are flagged for "contact precaution". They are placed in either a private room or a semi-private with another patient with the same organism. Clinical staff takes special care to ensure these infections are not spread to other patients. Gowns, gloves, and hand hygiene are critical in ensuring we provide the best care for these patients. We strive to educate patients and family members in ways to control the spread of MDROs.

Clinical staff go through extensive training on identifying high-risk patients and thorough handwashing procedures. They go through skills testing on inserting IVs, giving shots, putting in catheters or mechanical breathing devices, and much more. Education is ongoing about identifying and treating emerging infectious diseases, such as West Nile Virus.

Every instrument or medical device used in patient care has been sterilized or disinfected to eliminate virtually all pathogenic microorganisms. Our Environmental Services team has been trained to clean a patient's room so we eliminate contaminants from every possible surface.

When a patient is scheduled for surgery, the room and its equipment has been cleaned and disinfected. Instruments for the case come in sterile packaging. Staff is taught how to move in the surgical suite to avoid bringing contaminants into the sterile surgical field. All instruments are counted before and after the procedure to minimize any risk of infection. Surgery patients receive appropriate antibiotics prior to surgery, so infection prevention starts before the procedure.

McLaren Bay Region only has private or semi-private rooms. One reason is to control the spread of infection. If a patient has tuberculosis, they would be placed in isolation in a negative air pressure room. All air in the room is exhausted to the outside, and air exchanges are continuous.

Patients with any invasive line or equipment, like a catheter, are routinely monitored for any signs of infection. If a patient is unable to turn from side to side, we follow standard protocols for seeing that the patient is frequently turned to prevent bedsores or other wounds from destabilizing the patient's recovery.  Family members and friends are part of the health care team. If you have a cold, the flu or pneumonia, we encourage you to stay home and call the patient. If you happen to sneeze or cough during a visit, we encourage visitors to cover their mouth or nose with a tissue, and wash their hands right away. If you or the patient spots an area of concern, the clinical staff wants to know immediately, so we can stop an infection before it takes hold.

McLaren Bay Region is one of 70 hospitals in Michigan participating in the Keystone ICU and HAI Initiative through the Michigan Health and Hospital Association and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. This initiative is assessing if, by following the projects' goals and interventions patient safety and outcomes can be substantially improved. More information can be found at:

The hospital also serves on the Healthcare Preparedness Network for this region. We participate in ongoing education and practice drills on a routine basis, so we can be prepared for any threat that would compromise the safety of our patients, and the community at large.

We can't control all the variables, but our surveillance shows patient infection rates at McLaren Bay Region are decreasing significantly. That's our mission -- to be at near zero levels for hospital associated patient infections.

Karen Frahm, MPH, CIC, is certified by the Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology. She is active in the Michigan Society of Infection Control. Her master's degree in hospital epidemiology is from the University of Michigan. Her Bachelor of Science degree in medical technology is from Michigan State University.  . Before working in Infection Prevention and Control, she worked in Critical care and the Emergency Department at McLaren Flint.

Katie Roberts RN, MSN, CIC, Board certified in Infection Control, Master’s of Science in Nursing in Infection Control and Environmental Safety from Loyola University Chicago

Infection Prevention Information
Infection Prevention: Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Infectious Disease Specialist?

An Infectious Disease Specialist helps to treat resistant infections. Antibiotic resistant bacteria are becoming more and more common, affecting patients in more profound ways. These seriously ill patients are at risk for more acute complications. In addition to patient care, I work with Infection Control Specialist Karen Frahm to decrease hospital infections, reminding people to wash their hands, and be aware of at risk patients.

What types of tests/procedures are performed for infected disease patients?

By doing a complete history and exam of the patient, I can usually get a good idea of what disease they have. After diagnosis, I can follow-up with a specific treatment plan. Depending on how sick the patient is, blood cultures can be administered and sent to the lab to determine the type and strain of bacteria. Bacteria are getting more and more unpredictable, so by testing with a panel of antibiotics, we can determine proper treatment. Most viral diseases are left untreated and rely on the immune system to fight off the disease. With bacterial infections, antibiotics help the process along.

What diseases stand out to you as being most common?

People who have surgery can be classified at high risk of becoming infected. Fortunately, the numbers are very low, but if a patient does become infected, there is a good chance I will be seeing that person. Some of the most common diseases I see are tuberculosis, pneumonia, and MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphyloccocus Aureus), which is a mutated, very aggressive strain of staph infection.

What are some things that can be done to prevent infectious diseases?

Many times being diagnosed with an infectious disease is just bad luck. However, by maintaining proper hygiene; i.e., cleaning scrapes, washing hands, be aware of other infected patients, people can prevent diseases. The most preventable is the hospital-acquired infection, and we are continuing to work towards that. The vast majority of infections happen outside the hospital with the common flu and cold. Inside the hospital, patients are more prone to bacterial infections.