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How Does the CDC Aid State Health Departments in the Fight Against HAIs?


Marion A. Kainer, MD, MPH, FRACP, FSHEA, Director, Healthcare Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance Program, Tennessee Department of Health, explains how the CDC aid state health departments in the fight against healthcare associated infections.
Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)
“The federal and state partnership is really important to increase the reach of healthcare associated infection (HAI) prevention beyond the federal agency. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does multiple things in this regard: first, they provide funding to state health departments; they provide funding for an HAI coordinator and with the new antimicrobial resistance initiative, there will also be an antimicrobial resistance expert at each state health department. That’s one critically important thing.

They also provide the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), and NHSN infrastructure, which has multiple uses. It is a standardized surveillance system with protocols and definitions and it provides infrastructure for reporting and analysis.

We at state health departments don’t have to maintain our own servers or our software. [Instead] we can utilize this infrastructure and we can use the data for action [which] is really important for us.

The next area where [the] CDC really assists [state health departments] is with technical expertise in epidemiology and laboratory capacity. Our state public health lab has gotten assistance from [the] CDC on how to do resistance mechanism testing, for example, for carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE).

In Tennessee, back in 2008 and 2009, we had a problem with central-line associated blood stream infections in our intensive care units. We had a prevention collaborative and we fed the data back to our hospitals. When they saw where they were, that engaged hospital leadership to take some action to provide the appropriate resources. And so, we’ve now seen a gratifying decrease in our central-line associated blood stream infections.

Our problems now in Tennessee surround predominantly MRSA blood stream infections and we still have a challenge around catheter associated urinary tract infections in our intensive care units. And so, we need to understand where we have our problems, so that we can focus our efforts on where we can make the biggest difference.”
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