Tuesday | July 25, 2017
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Infection prevention

Registered Nurse Dianne “Dee” Adkins knows a thing or two about infection protection.

Adkins works at the 120-bed Hale Anuenue Restorative Care Center, where she noted that urinary tract infections accounted for one-third of all infections among the facility’s residents. Most of the UTIs were occurring among women, some with mild to moderate dementia.

Adkins searched for an educational program to help reduce the rate of UTIs at the facility, but found none teaching infection prevention self-care for patients residing in a long-term care setting, especially patients with cognitive disabilities. Adkins was undeterred.

“Just because there isn’t a model doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing,” she said.

So she designed one herself.

Hale Anuenue had 26 E. coli-associated UTIs in one year prior to implementing Adkins’ plan. In the program’s first year, UTIs dropped to eight.

The success of Adkins’ program earned her one of 12 “Heroes of Infection Prevention” awards, given to members of the Washington, D.C.-based national Association for Professionals in Infection Control. Adkins returned two weeks ago from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where she was presented with the award.

Since inception of the awards program in 2006, nearly 100 individuals and groups have been recognized for their work in reducing health care-associated infections. Criteria for selection include innovations in education, patient safety, advocacy and influence, process and program development, and cost savings.

Adkins called the convention “fabulously exciting and humbling,” with 4,100 health care professionals from 23 countries attending. The highlight for her was being asked to write an academic paper on the infection protection model she developed for long-term care patients.

Adkins’ program at Hale Anuenue also energized the facility’s residents, who were pleased and honored to be included in the program, she said.

“One stopped me to say, ‘Thank you for finding me worthy of education,’”she said.

The 2013 infection protection plan includes one session per quarter, and residents can’t wait for them, she said.

Adkins didn’t know precisely how many dollars are saved with with her model, but she said the antibiotics used to treat UTI and the added patient time under a doctor’s care drive up the costs of long-term care quickly.

She also credited the facility’s staff for pitching in to provide dietary assistance and educational activities for patients.

“It was a real team effort,” she said.

Email Hunter Bishop at hbishop@hawaiitribune-herald.com.