Tahoe Forest targets hospital-based infections | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Forest targets hospital-based infections

Jenny Goldsmith
Sierra Sun

Tahoe Forest Hospital officials say they have pursued a campaign to minimize a stubborn infection that has plagued some hospitals and become the subject of nation-wide concern.

In the last few years, cases of antibiotic-resistant Staphyloccocus aureus have risen sharply in hospital surgical wards, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.

The national benchmark for hospital-based staph infections last year was 5 percent among surgery patients. By contrast, Tahoe Forest Hospital’s rate was lower than 1 percent, said infection-control specialists with the Truckee hospital in phone interviews Wednesday.

“We have the advantage of being a small hospital, so there is not quite the wide range of patient types as urban hospitals may see,” said Laurel Holmer, a Tahoe Forest infection-control practitioner.

The specialists attributed Tahoe Forest’s relative absence of hospital-acquired staph infections to the hospital’s community education programs.

“We do a lot of presentations for the school district on hygiene and respiratory etiquette,” said the hospital’s Chris Spencer.

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Those who fight hospital infections credited the hospital’s aggressive sanitation procedures with minimizing the risk of exposure to the recalcitrant bacteria.

“We really practice infection control measures on a day-to-day basis,” said Holmer. “Once we establish a diagnosis, additional precautions are put into place, such as personal protective equipment.”

As flu season approaches, hospital officials advise Truckee-Tahoe residents to exercise preventive measures.

“Wash your hands frequently, take care of yourself, and get a flu vaccine,” Spencer said.