March 10, 2011 10:36 ET

VHA Inc. Initiative Enables Hospitals to Save More Than $35 Million While Reducing Three-Year MRSA Infection Rate and Improving Patient Care

IRVING, TX--(Marketwire - March 10, 2011) -  VHA Inc., the national health care network, today announced the results of a regional initiative focused on reducing the incidence of hospital-acquired infections, specifically Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections, which are difficult and expensive to treat if they develop. 

In late 2007, VHA hospitals in the Central Atlantic region established an aggressive goal to reduce the incidence of MRSA infections within three years. By working with VHA, the 54 hospitals (see list) in the initiative reduced their collective MRSA infection rate by 44% by the end of 2010 and prevented $35.4 million in additional treatment costs over the course of the initiative. 

"Our members' MRSA infection reduction initiative is clearly working," said Terri Bowersox, FACHE, director of clinical performance improvement at VHA's Central Atlantic office in Charlotte, N.C. "Multiple components are helping hospitals achieve success, including hospital CEO/leadership involvement, working with the participating hospitals to implement a culture of safety, monthly data collection and monitoring, best practice sharing, and customized coaching by VHA clinical improvement consultants."

While the average reduction in MRSA infections was 44% across all the hospitals, several achieved reductions greater than 70% compared to their baseline period. 
For example, CarolinaEast Health System, New Bern, N.C., experienced a 76% reduction in hospital-acquired MRSA infections. 

"Our health system was able to achieve an 84% reduction in our MRSA infections," said Wanda Lamm, RN, BSN, CIC, infection prevention coordinator at Nash Health Care Systems in Rocky Mount, N.C. "Our CEO's endorsement and support of this program has made it clear that this is an important initiative for our organization in order to improve the quality of patient care and also eliminate the additional costs of treating these infections."

"This project has been a great example of the power of collaboration," Larry Chewning, president and CEO of Nash Health Care Systems. "We have a great team here that got even better by working with VHA and the other participating hospitals across several states to share best practices and other tips to accelerate our improvement."

To achieve success in addressing infections within their organizations, the VHA member hospitals adapted leading practice strategies from VHA's Leading Practice Blueprints™ including those that addressed MRSA reduction, urinary tract infections, surgical infections, bloodstream infections and ventilator-associated pneumonia, and accessed other improvement resources that were available via VHA's Leading Practices Portal™.

There were several areas that all of the hospitals focused on, but one key focus was improving hand washing, commonly referred to in health care as hand hygiene. The hospitals reinforced the requirement that all those who come in contact with patients, which include hospital staff, physicians and visitors, must wash their hands before entering the rooms, and follow a "wash-in" and "wash-out" approach to infection prevention. All of the hospitals participating in this collaborative undertook an organization-wide effort to establish very high hand hygiene compliance rates. 

Other areas of focus included improving isolation policies and environmental cleaning procedures, conducting MRSA screening upon ICU admission and in other high-risk admission areas and requiring protective equipment be worn whenever entering an infected patient's room.

About VHA
VHA Inc., based in Irving, Texas, is a national network of not-for-profit health care organizations that work together to drive maximum savings in the supply chain arena, set new levels of clinical performance and identify and implement best practices to improve operational efficiency and clinical outcomes. In 2009, VHA delivered record savings and value of $1.47 billion to members. Formed in 1977, VHA serves 1,350 hospitals and more than 30,000+ non-acute care providers nationwide, coordinating delivery of its programs and services through its 16 regional offices. VHA has been listed as one of the best places to work in health care by Modern Healthcare since 2008 and one of the best places to work in IT by Computer World since 2007.

The following hospitals participated in the VHA MRSA reduction initiative:

Calvert Memorial Hospital Prince Frederick
Harford Memorial Hospital Havre De Grace
Upper Chesapeake Medical Center Bel Air
North Carolina  
Annie Penn Hospital Reidsville
Bertie Memorial Hospital Windsor
Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital Dunn
Brunswick Community Hospital Supply
CarolinaEast Health System Greenville
Chowan Hospital Edenton
Duplin General Hospital Kenansville
Forsyth Medical Center Winston-Salem
Heritage Hospital Tarboro
High Point Regional Health System High Point
Lexington Memorial Hospital Lexington
Medical Park Hospital Winston-Salem
Moses Cone Health System Greensboro
Nash Health Care Systems Rocky Mount
Pitt County Memorial Hospital Greenville
Presbyterian Hospital Charlotte Charlotte
Presbyterian Hospital Huntersville Huntersville
Presbyterian Hospital Matthews Matthews
Presbyterian Orthopaedic Hospital Charlotte
Roanoke Chowan Hospital Ahoskie
Rockingham Memorial Hospital Harrisonburg
Rowan Regional Medical Center Salisbury
Sampson Regional Medical Center Clinton
The Outer Banks Hospital Nags Head
Thomasville Medical Center Thomasville
WakeMed - Cary Hospital Cary
WakeMed - Raleigh Campus Raleigh
Belmont Community Hospital Bellaire
Fort Loudoun Medical Center Lenoir City
Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center Knoxville
LeConte Medical Center Sevierville
Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge Oak Ridge
Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System Morristown
Parkwest Medical Center Knoxville
Roane Medical Center Harriman
Southside Community Hospital Farmville
Centra Health Lynchburg
Martha Jefferson Hospital Charlottesville
Mary Washington Hospital Fredericksburg
Sentara Bayside Hospital Virginia Beach
Sentara Careplex Hospital Hampton
Sentara Leigh Hospital Norfolk
Sentara Louise Obici Hospital Suffolk
Sentara Norfolk General Hospital Norfolk
Sentara Potomac Hospital Woodbridge
Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital Virginia Beach
Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Williamsburg
Stafford Hospital Stafford
West Virginia  
Charleston Area Medical Center Charleston
Princeton Community Hospital Princeton
Wheeling Hospital Wheeling

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