NACCHO is pleased to announce the local health departments (LHDs) selected for the LINC (Lessons in INfection Control) Initiative. These sites were selected through a competitive process and, with support from CDC, have been awarded up to $25,000 each to improve both healthcare and community infection control and enhance coordination for preparing and responding to Ebola, healthcare-associated infections, and other emerging infectious diseases through strengthened local public health organizational and administrative capacity, expertise, and partnerships with key stakeholders.
Several events during the Ebola response in the United States exposed gaps in infection control, such as the transmission of Ebola from a patient to healthcare workers and delays in communicating and implementing personal protective equipment (PPE) measures. Infection prevention and control seeks to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases in healthcare settings to, from, and between healthcare providers and patients. A range of policies, procedures, and practices among healthcare facilities and their staff advance this goal. As a cornerstone of CDC’s Framework for Preventing Infectious Diseases, infection prevention and control is integral to addressing antimicrobial resistance, healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), and other emerging threats. This funding opportunity seeks to improve infection prevention and control to bolster response to HAIs and other emerging infectious diseases.
The local health departments that received the award are:
- Barren River District Health Department (KY)
- Clark County Public Health (WA)
- Eau Claire City-County Health Department (WI)
- El Paso County Public Health (CO)
- Flathead City-County Health Department (MT)
- Florida DOH Pasco County
- Kent County Health Department (MI)
- Marion County Public Health Department (IN)
- Kanawha-Charleston Health Department (WV)
- Public Health – Seattle & King County (WA)
- St. Louis City Department of Health (MO)
Award recipients will test creative solutions addressing the gaps identified during the U.S. response to the Ebola and ways to combat the 700,000 healthcare-associated infections in the U.S. each year. To do so, all of the LHDs will support staff in obtaining certification in infection control and several of the demonstration sites are conducting tabletop exercises which simulate emergency situations and test responses of staff and partners. Other planned activities to enhance preparedness for emerging infections and strengthen response to nosocomial infections include:
- Assessing current infection control capacity by surveying local healthcare facility HAI policies, programs, and staff and conducting internal capacity assessments
- Improving regional infection control infrastructure by developing regional infection control plans for healthcare facilities, compiling comprehensive inventories of healthcare facilities in the locality, increasing enrollment in a regional emergency notification network, and creating a coalition which will develop inter-facility transfer forms and standards
- Advancing local health department and healthcare facility knowledge by conducting trainings on infection control and creating educational materials related to specific HAIs (including carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae and Clostridium difficile) to be used by hospitals and long term care facility staff
- Strengthening efforts in response to outbreaks by improving patient notification during nosocomial outbreaks and implementing an assessment of LHD response during the 2014 Ebola outbreak and using findings to guide the development of a learning portal for LHD staff
These activities will be conducted in conjunction with an extensive list of partners, including state health departments, hospitals, long term care facilities, correctional facilities, regional physician associations, and quality improvement organizations, among others. The LHD recipients will also support ongoing NACCHO work in this area, helping to develop resources for use by other organizations conducting similar work and providing feedback on NACCHO’s forthcoming HAI guidance document. The LINC initiative and the work to be done by these organizations represent an exciting opportunity to address challenges and improve public health preparedness and response to HAIs and emerging infections, such as Ebola. NACCHO looks forward to supporting their work as they build partnerships, increase LHD capacity, test existing procedures, and create new structures to support infectious disease response. Stay tuned to this blog for updates from the sites as their projects progress.