by Paula Levy
BRIDGEWATER – South Shore Health is looking for a little government help to control its MRSA issues.
Over recent months, South Shore Regional Hospital has had two outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant bacteria on its fourth-floor medical unit. In the fall, as many as 20 cases of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) were confirmed. Earlier this month nine patients were reported to have contracted the bacteria on the same unit.
Chief executive officer Alice Leverman said additional funding is required to install more handwashing sinks on the unit and replace some furniture. The bacteria can be spread from direct contact. Therefore, infection control has also reviewed handwashing protocol with staff to ensure proper procedures are being followed. “It”s a variety of pieces that we need to focus on and always, if we have an event like that, the important thing is to review what you”re doing and what you could be doing better to ensure that, to the fullest extent possible, you can prevent that,” said Ms Leverman.
Ms Leverman also noted that more cleaning staff was required since in addition to direct contact, the bacteria can be spread through contact with contaminated surfaces.
“There are also some additional staffing required that we”ve had to put in place that are over and above our budgeted staffing,” said Ms Leverman. “We”ve sent that forward to the Department of Health for their review and consideration.”
Staphylococcus aureus can be found on healthy people and can get into the body and cause infection. But some bacteria develop a resistance to methicillin and other common antibiotics. MRSA is of concern in a health-care setting because the bacteria poses a risk to patients who have a compromised immune system.
Spokeswoman for South Shore Health Barbara Johnson said the source of an MRSA outbreak can be difficult to identify. MRSA is a concern in health care because patients in hospitals are at a greater risk of developing an infection if they come in contact with the bacteria.