Two Burlington County NEW JERSEY health providers, Virtua and the Deborah Heart and Lung Center, were recently recognized by the New Jersey Hospital Association for excellence in quality and community outreach.
Virtua earned the association’s Excellence in Quality Improvement Award for its efforts to reduce the occurrence of hospital-onset Clostridium difficile infection, or C.diff, a bacterium that causes diarrhea and more serious intestinal conditions such as colitis, and education programs to reduce catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) in home care.
Deborah was honored alongside Cooper University Health Care in Camden with the Community Outreach Award for its HeroCare program, delivering specialty medical care to active and retired military members.
The awards were presented during the association’s 99th annual meeting at the Hyatt Regency in Princeton on Friday.
To reduce hospital-onset C.diff, infection preventionists and Virtua Memorial in Mount Holly, Virtua Marlton in Evesham and Virtua Voorhees in Camden County put limitations on prescribing the antibiotic fluoroquinolone, which has been known to increase the risk of C. diff, and distributed education materials on the infection to staff.
At Virtua Marlton, which previously had the highest rate of C. diff, the health system instituted mattress covers in targeted units.
As a result of these initiatives over 18 months, hospital-onset C. diff infections were reduced by 32 percent across the system, and by 55 percent at Virtua Marlton.
“Hospital onset C. diff is an issue in hospitals across the country which results in potential harm to patients, increases length of stay, and increased health care costs. At Virtua, we decided to tackle this problem proactively and head on,” said Dr. John Matsinger,
Virtua’s executive vice president and chief clinical officer. “Virtua is honored to be acknowledged for the work by our clinicians to increase the safety of our patients and community. Keeping our patients safe is Virtua’s No. 1 priority.”
Also, Virtua Home Care was recognized for creating educational programs for employees, patients and family caregivers to lower the rate of CAUTI. There are fewer guides to preventing and measuring CAUTI in a home care setting than in acute or residential care.
Virtua Home Care established specific CAUTI education and measurement for its home program, and saw incidents of infection decline by nearly 92 percent. Virtua reported no CAUTI for the first three quarters of 2017.
Deborah, in Pemberton Township, and Cooper University Health Care earned the Community Outreach Award for its joint HeroCare program, which provides specialty medical services to active military members, veterans, National Guardsmen, and the family of all military associated with Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
“It’s very nice to be recognized by our colleagues and our peers for the work that we’re doing for the program,” Christine Carlson-Glazer, Deborah’s government and community relations liaison, said of the award.
Staff housed at Deborah schedule appointments within 48 hours of requests and offer additional veterans services like post-traumatic stress disorder counseling, mental health or substance abuse help.
In less than a year, over 1,500 appointments have been scheduled.
Deborah is 1.3 miles from the Fort Dix entrance of the joint base, and as a result the two have a close connection, according to Carlson-Glazer. Deborah celebrated its 95th anniversary last year as the former Fort Dix installation recognized its centennial.
“It’s an amazing way for us to give back,” Carlson said. “We’re so proud of that.”