Author – Joni Young, MS
CDC’s Healthcare-associated Infections Recovery Act Program Coordinator
Just over a year ago, I was putting together a team of public health analysts to support state health department healthcare-associated infection prevention programs. We had $40M in grants, 51 new grantees, and 28 months to accomplish what some would say is impossible — to build a national public health infrastructure aimed at eliminating healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). We were overwhelmed by the positive response from state health departments during a summer of H1N1 and other competing priorities. This demonstrated a commitment from the states to prevent HAIs. We began this partnership with a sense that we could accomplish anything with each others’ support.
September marked the first anniversary of the HAI Program. The 51 grantees funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) (49 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico) implemented strategies to prevent HAIs, making healthcare safer across the nation.
In just 12 months, the HAI Program:
- Provided capacity to initiate HAI prevention projects in some states, and resources to build upon existing HAI prevention projects in others.
- Supported nine Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) infectious disease fellows to focus on HAIs in nine health departments. These individuals are an important addition to their respective HAI programs and this fellowship is helping to build the HAI prevention workforce.
- Enabled health departments to work more closely and regularly with CDC and healthcare facilities in their regions.
- Conducted monthly trainings on situation-specific HAI prevention with state and territorial representatives, allowing partners to share successes and challenges that might benefit states in similar situations or stages of program development.
- Complemented the ARRA work with funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS has provided funding for seven regional HAI administrators. These administrators will work with states and facilities within each region to further activities to reduce HAIs.
In its second year, the HAI Program will continue its momentum. With state and territorial leadership, healthcare facilities will continue to implement HAI prevention strategies and demonstrate results. Four new CSTE HAI fellows are beginning their fellowship. We are in the final planning phase of our second annual grantee meeting where States will share their successes and lessons learned.
Check the CDC website for regular updates on the HAI Program, including individual state information: www.cdc.gov/hai/recoveryact.
Have you noticed greater attention to prevention of HAIs in your state’s healthcare facilities? If so, how? If not, what do you think can be done to improve HAI prevention in your state’s healthcare facilities?