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Hospitals prevent and improve MRSA management

Norman – This past December, more than 180 representatives from 30 different Oklahoma and Arkansas VHA hospitals met at Norman Regional Hospital to discuss infection control practices and collaborate on what hospitals can do to stop the spread of MRSA.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus or MRSA was first identified in 1960 and was mainly found in hospitals and nursing homes. In the late 1990’s, a new type of MRSA was identified. This type of MRSA has become more common among children and adults who do not have medical problems and has been steadily growing in prevalence in communities across the country. Hospitals and other health providers nationally, have designed a number of infection control programs to protect patients and staff.

“Because of recent media coverage, MRSA has been at the forefront of everyone’s attention,” said David Whitaker, FACHE, President and Chief Executive Officer of Norman Regional Health System. “Addressing MRSA is one of the top priorities of Norman Regional Health System and many U.S. hospitals.”

“The overall purpose of this summit was to strengthen and give momentum among VHA hospitals by bringing together regional experts to develop programs and processes to effectively manage acquisition of MRSA infections,” stated Bruce Naylor, MD, FA, Vice President of Clinical Affairs VHA Oklahoma/Arkansas.

MRSA are staph bacteria that are resistant to the common antibiotic-methicillin. Anyone can get MRSA. Infections range from mild to very serious, even life threatening.

“Most infections due to MRSA that occur in the community are easily treated in the physician's office and without the use of antibiotics,” said Becky Coffman, RN, MPH, CIC, and Communicable Disease Epidemiologist with the Oklahoma State Health Department. “Healthcare providers are not required to report individual cases of MRSA to the Oklahoma State Health Department, however the Acute Disease Service has received increasing numbers of calls from both citizens and healthcare providers regarding MRSA skin infections. This summit provided the vehicle to network with regional experts on this issue.”

MRSA can be sores that look and feel like a spider bite or large, red, painful bumps under the skin (called boils). MRSA may form in a cut that is swollen, hot and filled with pus or blisters filled with fluid (called impetigo). It is also possible to have MRSA in other areas of the body, such as blood, lungs, eyes, and urine. These types of infections are less common.

MRSA should always be treated by a health care provider. The provider may choose one or more of the following treatments: drain the infection, give antibiotics, or reduce the amount of bacteria on one’s skin by using a special soap or ointment.

MRSA skin infections are contagious and can spread to other people through skin-to-skin contact. It can also spread from shared items such as bedding, towels, soap, clothes and sports equipment. If you are a MRSA carrier and you don’t wash your hands properly, things you touch with your hands can give the bacteria to other people.

The most important thing you can do to protect yourself from MRSA is wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Keep your cuts and scrapes clean and cover them with bandages. Do not touch other people’s cuts or bandages. Do not share personal items like towels or razors. Shower and bathe regularly, especially after contact sports practice or events.

VHA, Inc., based in Irving, Texas, is a national alliance that provides industry-leading supply chain management services and supports the formation of regional and national networks to help members improve their clinical and economic performance. With 17 offices across the U.S., VHA has a track record of proven results in serving more than 1,400 not-for-profit hospitals and 21,000+ non-acute health care organizations nationwide.

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Contact Kelly Wells
Norman Regional Health System

Office (405) 307.2143
Fax (405) 307.2144