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Health Department Recognized for Antibiotic Stewardship Program
April 11, 2013

The Independence Health Department (IHD) has been recognized for its work in a nationwide Antibiotic Stewardship Program.

Dr. John W. Moran of the Public Health Foundation, Washington, D.C., spoke to the IHD’s Advisory Board of Health and commended the Independence Health Department for its work in a nationwide Antibiotic Stewardship Program.

“Independence Health Department is the only local health department in the country that is involved in this program,” Dr. Moran said. “You are developing a lot of great practices that other health departments around the nation can look at and learn from in the future.”

The goals of IHD’s program are: 1) to protect the community from not having drugs that work to treat infections; and 2) improve patient outcomes and safety by using education to help change behaviors regarding the need and demand for antibiotics. 

IHD, which started working on the project in September 2012, is addressing the problem of antibiotic resistance from a number of angles.  In collaboration with Centerpoint Medical Center, IHD has developed antibiotic treatment cards to provide health care providers with an easy-to-use reference for how to best treat conditions they often see in patients.

IHD is also working with childcare facilities and schools to ensure that return-to-school policies follow state recommendations and do not encourage unnecessary antibiotic use. Education about antibiotic resistance and the importance of using antibiotics appropriately is being included in many of the classes and communications that IHD offers to the public.

“History has taught us that if we do not use antibiotics wisely, they will lose their ability to fight disease,” IHD Director Larry Jones said.  “That is why the IHD decided to participate in this program.

"Changing the way we approach the to antibiotics by selecting optimal use regimens will hopefully safeguard their effectiveness,” Jones added.  “I am proud that the IHD is on the cutting edge of this important work in local public health and that we are the first to do so.”

Antibiotic resistance has been increasing in recent years, and has been called one of the most pressing public health concerns of our age. Resistance occurs when antibiotics are used for conditions that do not require the drugs, or when an individual does not complete a prescribed course of antibiotics. In these cases, the weakest bacteria are killed off while the stronger bacteria survive. These stronger bacteria multiply and eventually, antibiotics become less effective.

The rise in antibiotic resistance has recently been described as an “apocalyptic scenario,” in which we could run out of antibiotics that will work against some of the most common infections.

The Antibiotic Stewardship Program is a collaborative effort of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, and the Public Health Foundation. Eight hospitals across the country have participated in the pilot program, including Centerpoint Medical Center.

For more information about the Independence Health Department’s program, please contact Dee Hampton at 325-7320.

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