CLEARFIELD – When people go to the hospital, the last thing they want to do is come out more sick than they were going in.
With an eye on controlling illness and ever-rising health care costs, Clearfield Hospital is taking a step toward controlling the spread of infection.
The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) and the Highmark Foundation announced that the facility was awarded a $36,000 grant to implement new technology to identify, track and proactively prevent hospital-acquired infections on Thursday.
Robert B. Murray III, president and CEO of Clearfield Hospital, said that in 1999, 100,000 lives were lost due to medical errors in the country. “I think we would all agree that one error that causes a death is one too many,” he said.
That statistic means that in 1999, the health care industry was eighth on the list of leading causes of accidental death.
The awarding of the grant, Murray said, will ensure that patients at Clearfield Hospital receive the best care possible.
“Patient safety is paramount at Clearfield Hospital,” Murray said. “The addition of the MedMined service will further reduce the chances of hospital-acuqired infections.”
MedMined is an electronic data-mining program that will allow the hospital’s staff to electronically monitor real-time and historical clinical data while at the same time alerting infection-control professionals to the process of care that increase the risk of infections.
Kim Smolko, nurse and infection control manager for the hospital, said Clearfield Hospital’s rate for hospital-acquired infections falls far below the national average.
Smolko agreed with Murray that one infection obtained while in the hospital is one too many. “Our community is just like family.”
Clearfield Hospital was the first of 11 hospitals in the state to receive this type of grant, a fact that made state Rep. Camille “Bud” George, D-74 of Houtzdale, proud.
“Brick and mortar does not constitute a hospital,” he said, adding that it takes staffing and a dedication to the community.
That sense of community was something not missed by Marc Volavka, executive director of PHC4.
“Clearfield Hospital is a representation of where a majority of people in Pennsylvania access their health care.”
Volavka said the implementation of the new technology will mean “wins” across the board.
“It’s a win for the staff, it’s a win from a financial standpoint … and it’s a win for the community.”
PHC4 reports that in 2004, hospital-acquired infections resulted in $2 billion in additional hospital charges. For the first nine months of 2005, the figure was $2.3 billion.