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Pneumonia vaccination initiative brings honor to HMC

Henry Medical Center (HMC) has been recognized for its efforts to protect the public against the dangers of pneumonia.

The 2010 First Place Josh Nahum Special Achievement Award for Infection Prevention & Control, has been presented to the Henry County hospital for its Pneumonia Vaccination Initiative.

The award is co-sponsored the Georgia Hospital Association's Partnership for Health & Accountability, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, and the SAFECARE campaign.

Earlier this month, the distinction was bestowed during an annual education conference sponsored the Georgia Hospital Association Research and Education Foundation Healthcare Research Inc., according to HMC Public Relations Specialist Michelle Nunnally.

The conference was held Jan. 5-6, at the Ritz Carlton Lodge in Greensboro, Ga., she said.

"Earning First Place ... recognizes Henry Medical Center for achieving and maintaining a 100 percent success rate, with regards to administering the pneumonia vaccine to the right patients every time," Nunnally said.

"Pneumonia, caused pneumococcus, is the most common form of infection, occurring outside of a hospital or institutional setting in the United States," she said. "Pneumococcus infections are responsible for more than 6,000 deaths per year in the U.S. — the highest number for any vaccine-preventable disease.

"Immunization against increasingly resistant pneumococcal can play a critical role in the prevention of pneumonia, particularly in immuno-compromised patients and older adults," Nunnally continued.

Jeff Frehse, HMC's director of performance improvement, led a team of hospital representatives in conducting the initiative. The endeavor centered on a process of "rapid-cycle change with small tests of change to gauge the effectiveness of vaccinations," explained Frehse.

"We developed a documentation tool to improve the vaccination rate of our population against pneumonia," he said. "Then, we would take that tool to one floor, and one nurse, and have her use it. We would find out what problems she had with that documentation tool. Then, we would take it to four nurses, and then eight nurses, and have them test it."

The procedure, he continued, was repeated until all nurses had performed it without receiving negative reports, Frehse said. Thirty, to forty patients were screened for pneumonia, during the testing process.

He said the initiative represents an efficient way of documenting a pneumonia vaccination's worth. Frehse said the first-place award is proof of the initiative's effectiveness.

"We can do that in a week, compared to the months it takes using other methods," he added. "It's a really good tool, because you get more input from users of the tool. It indicates that we're preventing pneumonia in the future giving vaccinations, and providing a high quality of care to patients through improving our vaccination rate."