Penn Highlands Elk’s Healthcare-Associated Infection Rate

July 11, 2014


Penn Highlands Elk was pleased with the recent release from the 2012 Pennsylvania Department of Health’s healthcare-associated infection report.

Healthcare-associated infections are infections that occur in a patient as a direct result of the healthcare interventions being delivered to them. About 5-10% of patients admitted to hospitals in the United States develop a healthcare-associated infection. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that more than 2 million patients develop hospital-associated infections in the United States each year. Penn Highland Elk’s effort to eliminate hospital-associated infection aligns with its commitment to minimize fear and enhance the patient experience. Penn Highlands Elk has developed extensive infection control programs to prevent healthcare-associated infections. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Health’s 2012 Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAI) Report demonstrates that Pennsylvania hospitals remain the leader in the prevention of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). This success is the result of ongoing efforts undertaken by hospitals in Pennsylvania to control and prevent HAIs. The impact of these efforts assists hospitals in reducing healthcare costs, improving the health status and outcomes of patients cared for in PA hospitals. 

According to Christine Garner, MSN Edu, director of quality, risk management and infection control, Penn Highlands Elk continues to demonstrate low rates of healthcare-associated infections than the average for Pennsylvania hospitals. 

The report shows that Penn Highlands Elk patients experienced no healthcare-associated infections in the following: blood stream infections (with or without a central line); bone and joint; central nervous system; cardiovascular system; eye, ear, nose and throat; lower respiratory tract; and reproductive tract. In addition, the hospital’s catheter-associated urinary tract and central line associated blood stream infection rates were lower than the state average for acute care (med/surg/peds and maternity) and intensive care units. 

Garner credited the hard work and driven efforts of the entire healthcare team on improving patient outcomes throughout the organization. Everyone in the organization has been very instrumental in the performance improvement initiatives to reduce and eliminate healthcare-associated infections at Penn Highlands Elk. 

“Our goal is to hardwire excellence throughout our organization, which creates a higher level of quality care with positive outcomes and patient experience at a lower cost,” she said. 

“The success of Penn Highlands Elk in relation to HAIs is a testimony to the commitment each nurse and staff member has to provide the very best of healthcare to the communities we serve.  By continuously researching and applying best practice, and through a resolve to be the provider of choice, the level of care given at PH Elk will continue to meet and exceed expectations,” stated Mary Ellen Smith, chief nursing officer, PH Elk.

“At Penn Highlands Elk, we strive for a culture of high performance, focusing on continuous change to provide quality care with positive patient outcomes and experience at lower cost which is absolutely necessary for our future and the future of healthcare. The value of our organization-wide infection prevention and quality improvement initiatives at Penn Highlands Elk has positioned us in the forefront of a changing healthcare system. We are proud of the progress our organization has made and we continue to build on our success in order to provide high quality care for our patients,” stated Rose Campbell, president of Penn Highlands Elk.

Two other hospitals in the Penn Highlands Healthcare system, Penn Highlands DuBois and Penn Highlands Clearfield, also fared well in the report. The fourth hospital, Penn Highlands Brookville, was not included in the study due to its designation as a critical access hospital, but also has low healthcare-associated infection rates.

To review: 2012 Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Healthcare-Associated Infection Report