Community Hospital East, Indianapolis, recently celebrated 5 years of ventilator-acquired pneumonia (VAP)-free status in its intensive care unit (ICU). The hospital’s successful infection control process based on collaboration and comprehensive education continues to be adopted at hospital ICUs across the country.

“This accomplishment is world class. The commitment by the staff to achieve this milestone is unprecedented,” says Steve Hultgren, interim president of Community Hospital East. “This is truly a time to be proud of an exceptional event in patient safety at Community Health Network.”
The initiative to eliminate VAP began as collaboration among nurses, doctors, infection control staff, respiratory therapists, and radiology technicians at Community East. Education for staff was formalized in 1998 and the process has been continually refined to improve rates of infection.
Community’s program builds awareness of the key contributors to pneumonia development and establishes practices that prevent infection. Among them: regular hand washing and glove wearing, elevating the head of the patient’s bed at an angle of 30º, mobilizing patients twice a day to improve air flow and circulation, and maintaining the patient’s mouth hygiene.
“We have built a culture of accountability, one in which staff members coach each other,” says Sherri Crawford, RN, clinical director at Community Hospital East. “It’s a non-threatening approach that allows all of us to ask questions and reinforce good behaviors.”
The Community Hospital East infection control process for VAP has been implemented at all Community Health Network ICUs, and all seven have gone at least one year without a case of VAP.

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