Photo cutline: (L-R) Colleen Kakretz, RN, CIC The Outer Banks Hospital’s Infection Control/Occupational Health Nurse and Judy Bruno Vice-President of Clinical Operations at the hospital stand alongside a hand sanitizing station, a tool the hospital uses to control infections. The Outer Banks Hospital has received a health-care award for keeping their rate of hospital acquired MRSA infections at zero in 2010.

MRSA stands for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, meaning it is a bacterium that is resistant to traditional antibiotics. The Outer Banks Hospital met the following criteria to achieve this recognition: no hospital-acquired MRSA infections in 2010.

“We are very proud of this recognition,” reported Judy Bruno Vice-President of Clinical Operations at The Outer Banks Hospital. “Our goal is to keep the rate of infections at zero. By adhering to our models of quality and safety we can provide the best environment of care for our community.”

MRSA is transmitted through direct contact with either another person or a surface containing the bacteria and pose a significant threat to hospitalized patients. Once a patient develops a MRSA infection, it can be fatal especially if it reaches the internal organs. The best way to prevent MRSA is to kill it before it infects someone. Although it is difficult to treat in the body, the MRSA bacteria is easy to kill outside of it through consistent use of hand sanitizers and anti-bacterial sprays that can reduce or eliminate the bacterial population on surfaces that hospital workers or patients may come in contact with. Hospitals like The Outer Banks Hospital have developed best practices to prevent hospital-born infections.

“The Outer Banks Hospital has tackled a crucial patient safety issue in addressing MRSA infections,” said David McDonald, area senior vice president/executive officer of the VHA Central Atlantic region, with offices in Charlotte, N.C., and Washington, D.C. “MRSA infections are particularly challenging because many people will enter the hospital with the bacteria on their skin or in their noses, and it can easily be transmitted to health care personnel, who can pass it along to other patients. Breaking the chain of transmission and creating and maintaining a sterile environment is a Herculean task, but The Outer Banks Hospital has demonstrated that it can be done, but it takes vigilance and a commitment to patient safety.”

VHA is a nationwide network of community-owned health care systems and their physicians that offers support for members working to meet the challenges and demands of healthcare as they work towards excellence. This recognition applauds the hospital’s efforts over the three-year initiative timeframe in 2010.