Guest author – Jessica Rigler, MPH, CHES
Healthcare-associated Infections Coordinator
Arizona Department of Health Services
In September 2009, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) received funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to develop infrastructure to prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAI) and create a new HAI Coordinator position. As the Arizona HAI Coordinator, I have had the opportunity to work with a number of dedicated and enthusiastic partners to coordinate statewide efforts towards HAI prevention. Key activities accomplished just in the last year include:
- Establishment of the Arizona HAI Program
- Authorship of the Arizona HAI Plan
- Creation of the multidisciplinary HAI Advisory Committee
- Assessment of HAI prevention priorities and educational needs of healthcare providers
- Development of an HAI program website to provide resources and links to nationwide HAI data to healthcare providers and the public
- Coordination between epidemiologists and the state survey agency to improve communication about HAI prevention and control
The ARRA funding allowed ADHS to bring together diverse partners across the state to participate in the HAI Advisory Committee. This all-volunteer committee has been essential to accomplishing some of the key objectives articulated in the Arizona HAI Plan. For example, the Committee is compiling a toolkit of evidence-based HAI prevention strategies for a variety of HAIs, beginning with Clostridium difficile. This toolkit will not only examine strength of evidence, but will also provide information about cost, ease of implementation, and sustainability of these interventions. The toolkit is designed for facilities across the healthcare continuum.
Other Committee activities include the development of a survey to assess current HAI surveillance practices in acute care hospitals in order to target educational needs of facilities; establishment of a statewide panel of antimicrobial stewardship experts who can offer technical assistance to resource limited facilities wishing to establish an antimicrobial stewardship program; and the launch of a public campaign to educate Arizona residents about common HAIs and HAI prevention strategies through a variety of media.
As I look back over the last year, I am inspired by how much we have been able to accomplish in such a short time. The ARRA funding we received a year ago allowed ADHS to address a need for statewide coordination of HAI prevention. With the creation of the ADHS HAI Program and the Arizona HAI Coordinator position, ADHS has been able to enhance relationships with our committed partners to make healthcare safer in the state of Arizona. I’m looking forward to the future progress we will make as this next year unfolds!