Infection Prevention


Infection Prevention is a vital part of South County Health's daily practices. The Infection Prevention & Control department performs a wide variety of surveillance for South County Health and the community, including the prevention of multidrug resistant organisms (MDROs), Clostridium difficile infections (CDI), surgical site infections (SSI), device associated infections, influenza vaccination rates, and hand hygiene compliance. 

To help keep patients, visitors, and staff healthy, we have an Infection Control Committee that is comprised of the Infection Control (IC) team, physicians/surgeons, IC nurse liaisons from each unit, and various ancillary members.  We also have an ad hoc group of off-site members who meet with the director of the IC program quarterly. 

The Importance of Hand Hygiene 

At South County Health we target 100% hand hygiene compliance rate. We use direct observation and real-time reporting, including patient perspective through the Press Ganey Survey. Every year we participate in International Hand Hygiene Day on May 5, focusing on patient education and staff engagement. 

Surgical Site Infections (SSIs)

We work diligently on our “best practice guidelines” for each patient’s safety in preventing surgical site infections. Our target goal is zero infections and we frequently compare ourselves to national benchmarks. One of our most common surgeries at South County Health, knee replacements, have low infection rates that fall below the national benchmark (a good thing!). 

Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTI)

Infection Prevention has made great strides with our CAUTI Collaborative Team, always on the lookout to protect our patients from this type of infection. 

Influenza Clinics

The Infection Prevention Department holds over 50 public flu clinics every Fall from North Kingstown to Westerly. In 2016 we administered over 1,500 flu shots in the community alone. Our nurses go above and beyond by visiting home bound residents to immunize them annually at no cost to the patient. 

We are the only hospital in Rhode Island to have a mandatory influenza vaccination program for direct patient care staff.  South County Hospital is on the Immunization Action Coalition’s Honor Roll--comprised of less than 600 facilities nationally--who have taken a stand for patient safety by implementing this policy. 

Endoscopy Unit Sterilizer

Infection Prevention along with our Endoscopy Department, has maintained vigilance with evidence-based best practices for scope disinfection, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control.  We provide our patients with the most effective, safest type of cleaning possible. As a result of our combined efforts, we had zero Hospital Acquired Infections associated with any of our scopes used for endoscopy, ERCP, and colonoscopy in 2017. 

Antibiotic Stewardship

We closely monitor all hospital-onset infections using technology and knowledge-based resources to benchmark our antibiotic prescribing practices. We are working together with the physicians and pharmacists to continually update our antimicrobial stewardship practices.

Ebola Response & Prevention

In response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa that started in March of 2014, Infection Prevention worked with many departments, including the Emergency Department and the RI Department of Health, to develop policies and procedures for the management of patients presenting with symptoms and a recent travel history consistent with the Ebola Virus. We completed a successful Ebola stress test on January 27, 2016 and continue our training so we are prepared for this and similarly dangerous diseases.  

Ultra-Violet Disinfection

With the partnership of the Hospital's Environmental Services team (EVS) we enhanced our environmental hygiene program to include UV disinfection. Our operating rooms first receive a thorough cleaning by EVS staff, then are disinfected by our UV robot. This “rapid” disinfector provides fast and safe disinfection. 

We also purchased UV sanitizing boxes where staff and visitors can disinfect cell phones, tablets, and more. our goal is for a ZERO infection rate.