|Facility opens doors to national research project on prevention of infections in nursing homes|
Family-owned and independently operated Regents Park Boca Raton has opened its doors to Columbia University researchers intent on learning more about infection control practices in nursing homes and how effectively they thwart healthcare-associated infections.
The study, funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research, is timely given that the population of nursing home residents is expected to increase in coming years. Statistics indicate that some 1.6 million to 3.8 million infections occur annually in nursing homes in the United States— a problem for facilities that generally specialize in the care of the elderly and often frail people.
Regents Park Boca Raton, a 180-bed facility in Boca Raton, Florida, is one of 12 nursing homes nationwide to invite researchers into the facility to conduct one-on-one interviews with key staff involved in infection control. Researchers began qualitative, in-depth interviews at Regents on June 11.
“It’s an honor to be involved with a program that Columbia University would do,” said Gilda Osborn, administrator at Regents Park Boca Raton. “I feel we have one of the best infection control programs out there. We work hard on prevention, not only because prevention can curb infections, but because in the long run prevention is significantly less costly than just trying to treat infections. It behooves all facilities to look toward prevention, not just trying to deal with infections that have already occurred.”
Tova Sacher, Regents’ assistant director of nursing and the facility’s infection control director, explained that although the state mandates annual in-service training sessions to keep staff educated about infection control, Regents has long conducted nearly monthly in-service classes. Those sessions are also intended to keep nursing staff aware of newly developing infections, trends in infections and, of course, procedures to prevent and treat them.
“It actually comes down to a quality of life issue, and we have to advocate for the residents,” said Ms. Sacher. “We want to keep healthy residents from acquiring an infection and help those with an infection get better. That’s especially important because we’re often dealing with people who live in close quarters and already have compromised health issues. We have to stay on top of everything.”
Regents Park Boca Raton is no stranger to efforts intended to help the nursing home industry as a whole. In addition to the Columbia University research program, it is also a participant in the “Reducing Healthcare Acquired Conditions Project,” which is sponsored by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. That project aims to reduce the rate of pressure ulcers and improve the health and quality of care for nursing home residents.
To augment personal interviews for its research program, Columbia University is also mailing 3,000 surveys to eligible nursing homes. It is uncertain when the research will be completed and results compiled.