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Novant Health reports decrease in infections

SALISBURY — Novant Health Rowan Medical Center has concentrated its efforts over the last several years to reduce hospital-acquired infections.

For National Infection Prevention Week, the hospital celebrated a 70 percent decrease in such infections. As of Saturday, the hospital had no infections for the month.

“We’re doing everything we possibly can to protect our patients, protect our visitors and to prevent infections,” said Dari Caldwell, hospital president. “You may say we’re obsessed with it. Yeah, we’re obsessed with it. We’re absolutely obsessed with it. Our goal is to have zero infections, and that’s our mantra — getting to zero.”

The four main types of infections are clostridium difficile, or cdiff; methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA; catheter-associated urinary tract infections; and central line associated bacterial infections.

Caldwell said the hospital staff worked to decrease the number of infections in several ways, including hand-washing campaigns that focused on what would serve doctors best.

“We really listen to our team members,” Caldwell said. “When we went with a real focus around hand washing and we would talk to our team members about it, they would show us it would be a lot easier to wash our hands if we had a hand-washing dispenser here where we didn’t have one. We really listened to our front-line team around where they needed the hand-washing devices.”

Other methods included receiving a Surfacide UV Disinfection System from the foundation; changing to Perisept cleaner; and reducing the use of urinary catheters and central IV lines.

Caldwell said the staff began looking into why patients had an infection.

“We started monitoring any time we did have an infection,” Caldwell said. “We would do a root-cause analysis to see what happened, how did this happen, how could it have been avoided and so forth. The end result was when we pulled our numbers last month, we have had since 2016 a 70 percent reduction in the infections.”

She said she wants patients coming to Novant Health to know it’s a clean hospital.

“They can rest assured that if they come to Rowan, they’re coming to one of the cleanest hospitals with one of the lowest infection rates, because we have worked so hard on it. And that all of our team is educated and knowledgeable about how to keep them safe and keep them from getting infections,” Caldwell said. “If you’re coming in for surgery, you have to take the prep seriously. … We do patient education prior to surgery with every patient.”

Caldwell is particularly proud of the reduction of infections in orthopedics.

“If you get an infection in orthopedics, it can be very difficult for the patient, so we really wanted to have a pristine orthopedic surgery program, make sure we didn’t have any infectious issues. One of the things that can happen is if a patient comes in for an orthopedic surgery they (can be) a carrier of MRSA,” she said. “They’re colonized with it, but they may not be sick. If they have orthopedic surgery, then that device that’s put in — the prosthetic device — can become infected.”

She said the hospital now has one of the lowest infection rates for orthopedic surgery in the country.

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