The University of Iowa is one of six U.S. health care centers to be designated Prevention Epicenters by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The UI team, led by Dr. Eli Perencevich, professor of internal medicine, also includes co-investigators from the UI College of Public Health’s department of epidemiology; Dr. Loreen Herwaldt, Dr. Philip Polgreen, and Dr. Marin Schweizer. The team will receive $2.2 million over three years from the CDC to develop and test interventions to prevent dangerous pathogens like Ebola, MRSA, and Clostridium difficile from spreading in hospitals.
The CDC will award a total of $11 million to the six new Prevention Epicenters, which are based at Emory University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Maryland, Baltimore, and University of Utah, in addition to the UI. The new funding more than doubles the number of CDC Prevention Epicenters, with the new centers joining five existing American Epicenters working to discover new ways to protect patients from dangerous germs.
“There are many significant pathogens that can harm our patients and spread among health care workers,” Dr. Perencevich says. “To make the health care system safer for both patients and health care workers we need to continue to invest in research to identify ways to harmful pathogens from spreading in our hospitals.”
UI researchers from the Carver College of Medicine, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering, and the College of Public Health, as well as the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Health Care System, will tackle four specific projects. The teams will test a variety of approaches, ranging from high-tech to low-tech interventions, to prevent the spread of infectious germs in patient care settings; track health care workers’ compliance with wearing personal protective equipment (PPE); and improve protocols for putting on and taking off complicated PPE of the type required to care for Ebola patients. One group also will generate a more quantitative picture of the true benefits of PPE, as well as evidence of any harms associated with the equipment.
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