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Published on November 20, 2007

The Fight Against MRSA

November 20, 2007

The prevalence and potentially life threatening effects of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections, or MRSA, have received wide media attention in recent weeks. However, healthcare providers have been fighting MRSA since the early 1980’s seeing both healthcare-associated infections and community-acquired infections.

A new Illinois law that went into effect Oct. 1 is the first in the nation to require hospitals to screen all patients admitted to an Intensive Care Unit for MRSA.  This is accomplished by swabbing the patient’s nose. 

Kishwaukee and Valley West Community Hospitals will have no problem complying with the new law because for years we have been screening patients who are at high risk for MRSA. 

KishHealth System has a Resistant Organism Policy that addresses screening measures and protecting the patients and staff from acquiring MRSA.  Every patient is placed in their own private room. The rooms have Staff Zones equipped with a sink, antimicrobial soap, waterless hand foam, and paper towels.  Hand hygiene is performed before and after providing patient care. Patients are placed in isolation until their screening results are negative.  Gowns and gloves are available for staff and visitors’ protection.

The new law also requires that hospitals begin reporting MRSA cases to the state and local health departments as of Jan. 1, 2008.  

Our healthcare-associated infection rate at both Kishwaukee Community Hospital and Valley West Community Hospital remains low and below national benchmarks. 

To accelerate our MRSA prevention and screening program, we will soon implement rapid testing of high risk patients and will consider testing all patients on admission, exceeding the requirement of the new law. KishHealth System employs a full time registered nurse specially trained in Infection Control and she serves as our Infection Control Practitioner.  We also rely on the services of board certified infectious disease physicians who consult as needed. 

MRSA is becoming a public health issue and not just a problem for hospitals and other healthcare institutions. We applaud all efforts to educate the public and to devote more resources to studying ways to prevent and treat MRSA. 

Pamela Duffy, RN, MS, MBA
Vice President, Patient Care Services and Medical Staff Office
KishHealth System

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