FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Connecticut Department of Public Health
June 13, 2008 Contact: William Gerrish
Hartford – The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced the launch of a public education campaign designed to increase Connecticut residents’ knowledge about healthcare-associated infections and the importance of infection control practices, especially hand washing.
At a ceremony in Hartford, representatives of hospitals, nursing homes, and other members of the healthcare community joined the Connecticut Department of Public Health in pledging their support of a statewide campaign titled: “Making Connecticut Safer: Two Hands at a Time.” The campaign was developed through a partnership between hospitals, nursing homes, patient advocates, and the Department of Public Health.
“Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are a major public health problem throughout the United States,” stated DPH Commissioner J. Robert Galvin, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A. “However, HAIs are not an inevitable consequence of medical progress or hospitalization, even for today’s severely ill patients. Through increased reporting and education, we can make a difference.”
“Preventive strategies, safer devices and sophisticated infection prevention programs are now available that can decrease the incidence of these infections in our hospitals,” stated Dr. Galvin. “Close attention must be paid to adherence to proper infection prevention practices, including hand hygiene, avoidance of unnecessary invasive procedures, and the judicious use of antibiotics.”
The goal of the education campaign is to raise awareness of every resident’s role in reducing health care associated infections. Campaign materials were developed and will be distributed to hospitals and nursing homes across the state to help organizations increase hand washing among patients, family members, and visitors, and set expectations concerning hand washing among health care workers.
The education campaign is part of a larger healthcare-associated infections initiative. In Public Act 06-142, An Act Concerning Hospital Acquired Infections, the Connecticut legislature established the Committee on Healthcare Associated Infections and charged it with advising DPH with respect to the development, implementation, operation, and monitoring of a mandatory reporting system for HAIs in Connecticut. The committee also was instructed to recommend to DPH appropriate methods for increasing public awareness about effective measures to reduce the spread of infections in communities, hospitals, and other healthcare settings.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that more than two million patients in acute care hospitals throughout the United States acquire infections that are directly related to their hospitalizations. It has been estimated that these infections contribute to more than 90,000 deaths and a cost of more than four billion dollars annually in the Untied States.
For more information on the education campaign and to view the Committee on Healthcare Associated Infections report to the Department of Public Health, visit www.ct.gov/dph, and click on Healthcare-Associated Infections under “Featured Links.”
The Connecticut Department of Public Health is the state’s leader in public health policy and advocacy with a mission to protect and promote the health and safety of the people of our state. To contact the department, please visit its website at www.ct.gov/dph or call (860) 509-7270.