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Infection Prevention & Control Department

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: www.mha.org/MHA-Keystone-Center-Patient-Safety-Organization/About-the-MHA-Keystone-Center

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