Health beat: Hospital upgrades cut infections

  • Article by: JEREMY OLSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 30, 2014 - 4:32 PM

 

A simple premise is proving true for Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota — if hospitalized patients aren’t moved around as much, they won’t come in contact with as many places or people carrying harmful bacteria or viruses.

Hospital-acquired infections at Children’s hospitals in Minneapolis and St. Paul have declined roughly 25 percent from 2011 to 2013, and Children’s officials attribute that partly to renovations that resulted in private rooms for all patients and more self-contained units where children can receive all of their care.

Intensive care patients used to be transferred four to six times in an average hospital stay to receive all the care they needed, for example, but now they often don’t have to leave the ICU.

“It’s just amazing how in the past you had to move one patient from one room to another,” said Dr. Phillip Kibort, Children’s chief medical officer, “and every time you do that, you increase the risk of transmitting infection.”

The progress in cutting infections is one of several benefits Children’s is highlighting this week in celebration of its Next Generation of Care capital campaign, which helped fund more than half of its $300 million in hospital renovations over the past decade.

Donations exceeded Children’s target of $150 million for the seven-year campaign, even though it encompassed a time period of job loss and economic recession.

“This is a significant philanthropic moment for Minnesota and we are thrilled to see how the community has rallied around Children’s,” said Theresa Pesch, president of the Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota Foundation.

Renovations aren’t the only explanations for the drop in infections, which are designated as hospital-acquired if patients become sick while in care and lab tests confirm the infections must have occurred within the time frame of the patients’ hospital admissions. The hospital has committed to a strong hand-washing campaign and placed hand sanitizer dispensers at room entrances. Doctors and nurses are also using “bundled” directions in the care of patients, which are a combination of tasks proven to reduce the risk of infections associated with wounds or ventilator usage.

Nor is the decline in hospital-acquired infections the only statistical measure of progress associated with the renovations.

The creation of a consolidated pediatric cardiac center has allowed caregivers to spend more time with patients and less time moving them around. The net result has been rapid declines in patient pain levels and lengths of stay.

“It’s created a different type of teamwork,” Pesch said, “and a different type of care management as well.”

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