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CDC Awards Rush, Cook County $9.45 Million to Combat 'Superbugs'

(Chicago) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s director of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases Beth Bell, MD, MPH, announced at a press conference held at Rush University Medical Center that the federal agency has awarded $26 million to five academic medical center-based Prevention Epicenters to support research on new ways to control drug-resistant organisms and prevent healthcare-associated infections.

The Chicago Prevention and Intervention Epicenter at Rush University Medical Center and Cook County Health and Hospitals System will receive $9.45 million: $5 million from the national award plus $4.45 million from CDC’s Safety and Healthcare Evaluation and Research Development contract to develop and test regional approaches for preventing transmission of antibiotic-resistant germs between healthcare facilities.

The Chicago-based epicenter, a collaboration between Rush University Medical Center and Cook County Health and Hospitals System, is considered a national model for developing a prevention package that reduces bloodstream infections due to the deadly carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) by 56 percent. The CDC created a national CRE Prevention Toolkit to help more hospitals adopt this proven approach. The epicenter team includes researchers with expertise in microbiology, clinical infectious diseases, diagnostic testing, epidemiology, antimicrobial stewardship, public health informatics, clinical informatics, and study design. For the past five years, the epicenter has worked to define the epidemiology of some of the most serious antibiotic resistance threats, including carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). For information about these efforts to reduce the spread of CRE can be found here: Beating Back a SuperBug

According to Rush and Cook County investigators, the additional funding will allow them to:

  • Identify markers in the microbiome of patients that would identify them as high risk for infection and develop the right interventions to protect those patients from deadly bacteria
  • Study the effectiveness of chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) bathing in the fight against MDROs
  • Track the transmission of antibiotic-resistant germs, including CRE and alerting healthcare facilities when patients are admitted with CRE so that a proper course of action can be taken immediately
  • Use advanced molecular diagnostics such as whole genomic sequencing to study transmission of CRE within and between healthcare facilities in a region
  • Develop social network analysis methods to identify where bugs are and see where they are going as patients move from one healthcare facility to another
  • Evaluate the behavior of physicians around prescribing antibiotics and supporting them in making judicious decisions on the appropriate use of antibiotics

“For nearly two decades, the epicenters have advanced the fight against healthcare-associated infections with practical clinical innovations that have saved lives,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. “Antibiotic-resistant infections are on the rise, making this research even more critical today than ever.” The other Prevention Epicenters included in this announcement are Duke University and the University of North Carolina; Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and the University of California, Irvine; the University of Pennsylvania, and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and BJC Healthcare Prevention Epicenter.

Funding for the five Prevention Epicenters begins immediately and extends through 2020. About one in 25 patients in U.S. hospitals gets an infection while receiving medical treatment for other conditions, leading to sepsis or death in many cases. In some hospitals, antibiotic-resistant bacteria cause one in four catheter and surgery-related infections. The growing toll is described in the CDC’s Vital Signs

About Rush

Rush is a not-for-profit health care, education and research enterprise comprising Rush University Medical Center, Rush University, Rush Oak Park Hospital and Rush Health. The mission of Rush is to provide the best health care for the individuals and diverse communities we serve through the integration of outstanding patient care, education, research, and community partnerships. Rush University Medical Center encompasses a 664-bed hospital serving adults and children. Rush has more than 9,300 employees and faculty. Rush University, with more than 2,500 students is a health sciences university and is comprised of Rush Medical College, the College of Nursing, the College of Health Sciences, and the Graduate College.

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