The Journey to Zero: Highlights
Children's is waging an all-out war on hospital-acquired infections. Our tiniest patients are especially vulnerable. Learn more about the commitment of our employees in their journey towards zero hospital-acquired infections by viewing the video above or read the full story.
- "I think it says a lot about the staff here at Children's that we want to see hospital-acquired infections become eliminated," says Jennifer Barry, RN, in the neonatal intensive care unit at Children's – Minneapolis. "When we take care of these little tiny babies and we see that they get sick, as a result of being in the hospital or being immuno-suppressed in any way, it does touch us. We see the struggles that the families go through and then the struggles that the baby has to encounter."
- Adds Jo Buche, RN, in the pediatric intensive care unit at Children's – St Paul: "We really focus on family-centered care in the ICU and we become connected and take a vested interested in ensuring that our patients have the best quality of care that they can receive and so preventing infections that we might expose them to is something that we're really focused on and we really try to make sure that we do on a daily basis."
The Journey to Zero: The Full Story
Closing the gap on hospital-acquired infections
For the tiniest patients at Children's, every single breath and every hour of survival matter. It's for this reason that Children's is waging an all-out war on hospital-acquired infections (HAIs).
"Each time a patient gets sick, it breaks our hearts," says Jennifer Barry, RN, BSN, a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurse and co-chair of the Prevent Infection Team at Children's - Minneapolis. "We know that our tiniest babies can get sick from being in the hospital. We all want to see our babies grow and leave the hospital infection-free."
A group effort
Hospital-acquired infections typically occur during the first, most critical hours after birth or admission. The babies seem to be getting better, but then develop a life-threatening infection. Preemies are especially susceptible because they are immuno-compromised and require numerous invasive tubes and procedures. HAIs can result from improper handwashing or handling of patient intravenous (IV) catheter lines. These infections can prolong hospital stays, increase costs and double the risk of serious medical consequences.
Through a collaborative effort among caring professionals like Barry, Children's is well on its way to eliminating HAIs. The initiative began back in 1996, when Children's joined a national alliance with the goal of reducing HAIs. By 2008, Children's declared significant victories in winning this battle.
"In the NICU alone, we've seen a decrease of infections by 65 percent by changing our procedures, educating our staff and families and promoting our goals," says Barry.
Focus on proper techniques
Children's health professionals focused their efforts with staff and families. Simple grassroots campaigns around hygiene stressed the critical need among staff for washing hands vigorously before touching an infant, upon entering or leaving a patient room, when conducting lab work or testing, or when sanitizing equipment or disposing of waste. Campaigns also instructed parents and visitors on proper techniques. In addition, Children's providers focused on decreasing infections related to IV lines, proper dressing changes, giving medications and preparing skin for IV insertions and blood draws.
"Over time, these practices have become our daily routine for nursing and staff," says Jo Buche, RN, BSN, a nurse in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at Children's – St. Paul. Buche and her team have reached the "zero" mark, going over a year in the PICU without a single HAI.
Dramatic results, safer care
Sharing best practices among infection prevention teams at both campuses has helped achieve these dramatic results, leading to safer care, helping infants and children heal faster with shorter hospital stays. Children's efforts have been recognized nationally, having recently received the "Outstanding Leadership Award for Achievements in Eliminating Central Line Associated Bloodstream Infections" by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.
"We focus on family-centered care at Children's, and have a vested interest in ensuring that our patients have the best quality of care," says Buche. "It's great to work for an organization that emphasizes providing the best possible care because it's more than just an infection – it's a patient's life that we take in our hands."