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Swine flu envy

October 28th, 2009 No comments

flushots1Today, I will volunteer at the flu shot clinic for children here in Bangor Maine.  There has been some difficulty getting the vaccine in Maine, but last week a supply arrived.  It was decided to do a big central clinic at our Civic Center to serve all of our community schools and many from outlying communities.  This clinic will be huge.  I did this same thing in 1976 when Swine flu was a threat.  I volunteered at a two clinics then.  The flu didn’t spread as quickly or as far and wide in 1976 as it has this year.

I know the necessity of preventing as much of H1N1 and regular flu as we can. Both can be deadly, particularly if someone becomes coinfected with a bacterial pneumonia, such as MRSA.   The vaccinations are very important in the prevention process and I will help in that process.   But I do have swine flu envy.  Let me explain.

The phenominal response from the CDC for the swine flu outbreak is admirable.  Many millions of dollars have been spent on prevention, education, vaccinations, testing, documentation, research, prepartation for flu disaster, etc.  It has been in the works for years. 

Where is the same attention for MRSA?  MRSA is killing approximately 20,000 victims each year and has been for  years.  Hospital acquired  infections kill over 100,000 patients yearly as well.  It has become “accepted” as part of doing business in hospitals.  Talk of a vaccination exists, but it will be years before one is ready.  These infections are happening every day, all year long in virtually all of our nations hospitals.

A small fraction of the expense to prevent flu could stop or greatly reduce MRSA.  If the CDC would recognize the process of  Active Detection and Isolation, the widely used prevention process for all outbreaks and epidemics, we could succeed.  ADI is THE proven preventative process for MRSA.  It has been proven in all of our VA hospitals, and many other hospitals nation and world wide.  Yet, CDC snubs ADI for MRSA prevention.  Their approach to MRSA prevention is to throw it in with all other MDROs and stop all infections.  This is an admirable goal but it is not attainable. In taking this approach, the needed steps to prevent MRSA have been watered down in the CDC recommendations.  MRSA is the most significant and wide spread Multi Drug Resistant organism.  It is also growing by leaps and bounds in the community.  About 30% of the general public is colonized with Staph and many of them are colonized with the more deadly and dangerous MRSA..a Staph infection that is resistant to many mainstream antibiotics.  The death rate for MRSA infections is alarming. Many tens of thousands more become disabled and lose their quality of life because of the infections.

The CDC needs to stop  politicizing  MRSA prevention and get down to the work of preventing it.  Until there is a vaccination to prevent MRSA, the process of ADI, along with military like enforcement of handwashing and education  is what will drop our MRSA rates.  It is time to end the epidemic of MRSA in our hospitals and our communities.

Amazingly, approximately 60 nurses, many other health care workers, and volunteers gave almost 8000 doses of Flu and H1N1 flu immunization to school age children at our Civic Center flu clinic in Bangor, Maine yesterday.  Over and over I am amazed at the flexibility and generosity of nurses.  Many of the ones there giving shots were volunteering their own time.  They were professional, caring and they treated each child gently and with dignity and respect.  Every nurse there knew the importance of keeping our children well and that is why they came.  Some of them were on the clock, but most volunteered.  This is an example of how nurses ( and in this case many other volunteers)  will come forward for the health of their patients and communities,  and give it all they have.  I am proud to be called a nurse and to know so many wonderful colleagues.