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Healthcare PlexusCall: Keeping Patients Safe in Hospitals-Successes and Challenges
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When: Wednesday, March 16, 2016
1 PM- 2 PM ET
Where: United States

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Healthcare PlexusCall

Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 1 – 2 pm ET

Keeping Patients Safe in Hospitals: Successes and Challenges

Guests: Pam Alexander, Nancy Iversen, Chris Nightingale, Jennifer Leachman,  and Mark Munger


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Hospital-acquired infections kill about 75,000 people in the US each year—more than car accidents and breast cancer combined. Some are caused by antibiotic-resistant infections that no drugs can cure. But they can be prevented. A survey of non-V.A. hospitals by the CDC shows that from 2007-2014, invasive MRSA infections have dropped by 30.8 percent.  In V.A. hospitals, rates of hospital-acquired MRSA infections fell by 68.6 percent between October 2007 and the end of 2012, and continue to drop.

On this call we will look at what the V.A. hospitals are doing differently, with guests from the V.A. and other hospitals that were using the same C.D.C. protocols as a part of the Plexus Positive Deviance MRSA reduction initiative, with similar results. The conversation will include details about what changed in the participating hospitals and, perhaps more important, what it means to keep an improvement initiative moving forward despite changes in infection control teams, frontline staff, middle managers, senior and physician leaders—and even the bacteria!

We’ll be using a format that makes it easy to join the conversation with your own questions and experience.

Pam Alexander, BSN, RN, is infection preventionist at West Palm Beach VA Medical Center, where as a LEAN Black Belt she is leading a project to decrease the transmission of hospital-acquired infections. She previously served veterans at Asheville, NC as infection preventionist, nurse leader of the PD MRSA Reduction initiative, and Chief of Sterile Processing. Her goal is to develop a model using complexity for a learning organization with psychological safety within the National VA nursing service. 

Ms. Alexander completed undergraduate nursing at Indian River College, in Ft. Pierce, FL and University of Phoenix, Phoenix, Az. Her current dual graduate education for DNP and MSN has been with East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN, and Kaplan University, Davenport, IA.  She wrote the Infection Prevention chapter for the new IAHCSMM (International Association of Healthcare Central Service Material Management) Manual, to be published this year. Her current focus is complexity science and community disaster response, working with the HERC (Healthcare Emergency Response Coalition) in Palm Beach County.  


Nancy Iversen, RN, is the Director of Patient Safety and Infection Control at Billings Clinic, in Billings, MT and has practiced nursing for 32 years and in the field of Infection Prevention and Control for 18 years.  She has experience in critical care nursing, infection control and patient safety. Special interests include hospital-based infection prevention and control, surgical infection prevention, multi-drug resistant organisms (MDRO), environmental hygiene, infection prevention during construction, the Positive Deviance approach to change, and improving teamwork and patient safety climates. She is Board Certified in Infection Control and is a graduate of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Patient Safety Officer Executive Development Program.  She was the lead investigator for Billings Clinic in a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Plexus Institute-sponsored national collaborative working to eliminate MRSA transmission. She has presented at the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology's (APIC) annual conference, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) National Magnet Conference, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's National Forum, and Canada’s Forum on Patient Safety and Quality Improvement.  

Christine M. Nightingale, BSN, RN, CIC,is a quality specialist focused on Infection Prevention (IP) at Billings Clinic in Billings, MT. Her current interests include instrument processing, the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) and Cystic Fibrosis. She has been certified in Infection Control since 1990 and is a frequent speaker at regional conferences. Chris is an active APIC member, former national APIC Education Committee chair and was recently an instructor at a national APIC EPI Intensive course. From 2005-2009, Chris worked with Jerry and Monique Sternin, the founders of Positive Deviance (PD) and other Plexus Institute consultants, in a successful, multi-hospital based national collaborative to reduce MRSA healthcare associated infections. Chris still uses the techniques learned during that experience to facilitate meetings and educational sessions, understanding that “Improving the relationship improves the outcome.”

Jennifer Leachman, DPT, is clinical coordinator for Aspen, Outpatient, and Sports Medicine Rehab Services at Billings Clinic in Billings, MT. She received a bachelor’s in health and human development from Montana State University in 1997 and a doctorate in physical therapy from Arizona School of Health Sciences in 2002.  After graduation she worked at Billings Clinic in acute care,  spending four years in the ICU and cardiac units specializing in spinal cord injuries and cardiac phase one rehabilitation. She moved to the transitional care unit at Billings Clinic, Aspen Meadows, where for nine years she specialized in wheelchair seating and positioning and was one of the clinicians in the ALS/MDA clinics. In the last year she has transitioned to clinical coordinator for outpatient/sports medicine clinics and the skilled nursing facility. She has volunteered with the Special Olympics for the past three years as the Fun Fitness program director.

She was part of the PD MRSA team at Billings Clinic and met with the CDC at Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia and the other sites that had received grants to work on preventing MRSA transmissions. Jennifer comments, “This experience made me grow as a clinician and changed my strategies on how to solve issues in my work environment.” 

Mark T. Munger, associated with the Plexus Institute, was a member of the first team of consultants to work on The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation initiative to reduce MRSA and other hospital acquired infections. He came to that work through a lifetime friendship with Jerry and Monique Sternin. Having watched their development of Positive Deviance in Vietnam, he became familiar with other applications and joined the Sternins and other colleagues to develop the plan that became the Rockefeller-funded Positive Deviance Initiative at Tufts University. Upon Jerry Sternin’s death, at Jerry’s request, Mark took on other PD work, including the application of PD to improve student success at Merced High School, in Merced, CA, funded by the Hewlett Foundation.

 Mark currently uses the methodology and techniques of Adaptive Positive Deviance in hospitals to improve management of pain, and palliative care. He has worked in schools afflicted by high drop out rates and gang violence, and on matters of food security in rural areas. For the last seven years, he has taught and implemented PD as a change tool in prisons and other public sector institutions in Denmark, and is senior advisor to the Positive Deviance Academy of Denmark. Educated at Princeton, and Harvard, and in Peace Corps service in rural Nepal, he lives in New York City.






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