It’s that time of year when the flu rises to the top of healthcare concerns. Two local hospitals, Lee’s Summit Medical Center and Menorah Medical Center, part of HCA Midwest Health System, and their employees are taking impressive proactive roles in reducing the risk of the flu spreading amongst patients and staff by getting immunized. The hospitals are the recipients of the Silver Syringe Challenge Award from the Mid America Immunization Coalition (MAIC) for their leadership in promoting immunizations amongst their healthcare workers. The honors were presented at MAIC’s annual awards meeting in early December.
All employees of HCA Midwest Health System, along with HCA employees in 163 HCA facilities and 105 freestanding surgery centers in 20 states, were required to get a flu shot and take other approved precautions to help prevent the spread of flu last season. Nearly 100 percent of HCA Midwest Health System and HCA employees were vaccinated. Employee actions not only help make a safer environment for patients and colleagues alike, they also lowered their own chances of acquiring the flu, meaning they are less likely to take it home to their families.
In response to this aggressive company-wide flu immunization policy for the 2009/2010-flu season, Lee’s Summit Medical Center increased its overall flu vaccinations among healthcare workers by 177 percent. Menorah Medical Center boasts a 97 percent staff flu immunization rate.
Sophia Harris, RN, MSA, CIC and Menorah Medical Center’s Infection Control Officer, says she’s proud that HCA Midwest, Menorah Medical Center and Lee’s Summit Medical Center employees recognize the importance of infection prevention by responding to the HCA company-wide initiative. “We are serving as a key system of surveillance in keeping everyone in our hospitals healthy during the flu season,” says Harris. “Our vigilance in boosting employee immunization rates high continues this flu season.”
Harris says that convincing more than 800 hospital employees that a vaccination can help improve the environment for everyone—patients and colleagues alike—may seem daunting. “But once you present the facts and evidence that flu vaccinations help reduce the risk of infection amongst not only the patient population but their fellow employees and their families, people understand that it makes sense,” says Harris.
Joan Jenne, RN, BSN, CIC, and Lee’s Summit Medical Center’s Infection Preventionist, says the HCA Midwest care team in the Kansas City area embraces the immunization policy. “We make the healthy choice the easy choice for employees,” says Jenne. “We have no-fuss opportunities to get flu shots without making appointments or checking immunization schedules. It’s convenient and easy for employees to get vaccinated.”
In addition to employee flu vaccinations, Harris and Jenne tirelessly promote the importance of diligent hand washing and the use of gowns and gloves. “We make every effort to prevent the spread of infection,” says Harris.
The MAIC works to ensure that all of Greater Kansas City’s children, adolescents and adults will be protected against vaccine-preventable diseases. The organization builds collaborative community partnerships that increase public awareness about the importance of immunizations.