HHS allocates $49 million to fight infectious diseases

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has handed out $48.8 million in grants for states and cities to fight infectious diseases.

The funds come from the Affordable Care Act's funding of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases Cooperative Agreements. The grants are used to improve disease reporting and monitoring by hiring and training staff, investing in information technology, and buying laboratory equipment and supplies, according to an announcement from HHS.

Among the awards:

  • The District of Columbia and Puerto Rico join 49 states funded to carry out efforts to protect patients from hospital-acquired, healthcare-associated infections.  Sixteen of them--California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland., Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, and Wisconsin--will be funded to do so across care settings by building multi-facility prevention initiatives.

  • Those grantees, as well as New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston and Los Angeles County will be funded to implement electronic laboratory-based reporting to improve information exchange within the state and with the CDC.

  • Arizona, Tennessee, South Carolina, and New Mexico will receive extra funding to implement electronic laboratory records specifically addressing healthcare-associated infections.

  • All 50 states, the district, the five largest cities, Puerto Rico and the Republic of Palau will receive funds for epidemiology and laboratory staff, equipment, supplies, travel, and training to sustain and improve their public health agencies' ability to detect and respond to emerging infectious diseases.

Of the grants, $45.4 million comes from the Affordable Care Act Prevention and Public Health Fund ($35.3 million for epidemiology-laboratory capacity; $9.3 million for healthcare-associated infections; and $0.8 million for immunization) and $3.4 million from annual appropriations.

Reported healthcare-associated infections are up in some quarters, but Bethany Higgins, executive director of the Oregon Patient Safety Commission, attributes that to better reporting.

A study published in this month's American Journal of Infection Control linked nurse burnout with higher rates of infection, saying understaffing not only can spell bad news for nurses, but also for patient safety.

Meanwhile, a study appearing this month in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology found that infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) have doubled at academic hospitals in five years.

To learn more:
- read the announcement

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