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Aurora Health Care receives Cardinal Health Foundation Grant to study MRSA infection screenings

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Milwaukee, Wis. -- Aurora Health Care has received a $24,000 grant from the Cardinal Health Foundation to determine whether targeted or universal screening of hospital patients is cost-effective when it comes to MRSA, or antibiotic-resistant staph infections. The study begins July 1 and runs through June 30, 2010.

"There has been international debate on how best to identify patients with MRSA when they are admitted to the hospital," said Kathy Leonhardt, M.D., M.P.H., principal investigator on the study. "It's vital because of course we want to keep the infection from spreading. There are two common approaches: targeted screening or universal screening. In targeted screening, only people with certain criteria are tested. Universal screening means everyone is tested."

While there have been clinical studies as to which screening method is best, there has been no consensus reached, said Leonhardt, who also is Aurora's patient safety officer and medical director of care management. In addition, she said, there have been few studies that looked at cost effectiveness.

"That's why we were interested in applying for this grant," Leonhardt said. "This project demonstrates our commitment not only to quality and safety but to cost effectiveness."

The three key Aurora participants in the study are Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center, Aurora BayCare Medical Center and ACL Lab. In addition, there will be close collaboration with Marquette University with economist Olga Yakusheva, Ph.D., as the co-principal investigator on the study.

"Aurora recognizes the importance of collaborative as well as the transdisciplinary work in examining health issues, especially one as vital as MRSA," Leonhardt said. "We know that it will take a lot of time and effort on the part of Sheboygan, Aurora BayCare, ACL Lab and Marquette to pull this project together, and we are very appreciative of their willingess to take on that work."

The grant is part of $1 million in funding from Cardinal Health Foundation for new and innovative programs to improve patient safety at 35 hospitals, health systems and community health clinics across the country.

Grants of up to $35,000 per facility will provide funding for programs that implement creative and replicable methods to improve the quality of patient care. Examples of other initiatives that received funding include strategies to improve physician hand hygiene, electronic medical record implementation, and medication safety and reconciliation projects.

"Medication safety and health care associated infections are two of the largest patient safety issues that health care organizations face every day, and the human toll and financial burden is escalating," said Shelley Bird, chair of the Cardinal Health Foundation. "The Cardinal Health Foundation is committed to improving the overall effectiveness of health care, and we're proud to support these institutions that are enhancing patient safety and the quality of care."

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit Wisconsin health care provider and a national leader in efforts to improve the quality of health care. Aurora offers care at sites in more than 90 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin.

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Contact: Sue Pierman
414-647-6432
sue.pierman@aurora.org

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