JCMC recognized for low infection rates by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Johnson City Medical Center (JCMC) was recognized this week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Society of Critical Care Medicine with an Outstanding Leadership Award for the hospital's achievement in preventing ventilator-associated pneumonia.

Dr. Carol Thompson, secretary of the Society of Critical Care Medicine, visited JCMC on Thursday to personally congratulate the hospital's staff on their achievement.

"This particular hospital (Johnson City Medical Center) did an outstanding job with regard to ventilator-associated pneumonia and central-line infections," Thompson said. "But it isn't just a number that went down, it's the whole culture that changed in order to make not only this one parameter different, but to make overall care excellent.  Job well done."

HHS partnered with the Critical Care Societies Collaborative to develop an awards program to recognize health care organizations that have demonstrated success in preventing health care-associated infections, specifically in critical care settings. Awards are given on two levels: The Outstanding Leadership Award is given to teams and organizations that reach their infection prevention targets for 25 months or more. The Sustained Improvement Award is given to teams and organizations that show consistent and sustained progress over an 18- to 24-month period.

JCMC was one of only six hospitals in the nation recognized for outstanding leadership in preventing ventilator-associated pneumonia. The other winners in that category were Baylor University Medical Center Truett ICU in Dallas; Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Calif.; St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in New York; and St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital in Houston.

"The VAP rate at JCMC is now a tenth of what it was in 2005, and one-third of what is typically found in hospitals of a similar size and patient population," said Rebecca Bartles, corporate director of infection prevention for Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA).

ICU teams at JCMC began a project in 2006 designed to target VAP infections by laying out a list of infection prevention criteria that must be met for every patient. The project involves a collaborative approach among nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists, infection prevention teams, physical and occupational therapists, and pharmacy staff.

"Every provider who comes in contact with the ventilated patient has to be on board with these standards in order for the approach to work," Bartles said. "We have been pleased with how well our departments have worked together to create the safest possible environment for our patients."

Research indicates that measures like elevating the head of the patient's bed, maintaining meticulous oral care and standardizing the way clinicians communicate about the patient's care all tend to reduce infection rates, and those best-practice measures are what guides JCMC's infection prevention protocol.

 About Mountain States Health Alliance

Mountain States Health Alliance, a not-for-profit health care organization based in Johnson City, Tenn., operates a family of hospitals serving a 29-county, four-state region (Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, Southeastern Kentucky and Western North Carolina). MSHA offers a large tertiary hospital, several community hospitals, two critical access hospitals, rehabilitation, a children's hospital, a behavioral health hospital, home care and hospice services as well as a comprehensive medical management corporation. Its 13,500 team members, associated physicians and volunteers are committed to its mission of bringing loving care to health care. For more information, visit www.msha.com.

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