Tahoe Forest targets hospital-based infections | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Forest targets hospital-based infections

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.

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.

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