RGH testing for MRSA

By Thomas Garcia: PNT staff writer

Roosevelt General Hospital started testing last week for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus bacteria — the precursor for the so-called “super bug” — as part of a statewide program.

RGH is one of 16 state hospitals voluntarily participating in the program that is monitoring the spread of MRSA in healthcare facilities, according to Teresa Bonifant, RGH’s infection control manager.

Eighteen of 22 patients admitted to RGH last week tested positive for the MRSA bacteria, although they did not have the actual infection, according to hospital officials. Staph bacteria, like other kinds of bacteria, is commonly present in humans, usually without causing problems.

The test results were brought to the attention of the hospital board during Tuesday’s board meeting by Leslie Donaldson, RGH chief of staff.

The infection, which has become prevalent at healthcare facilities in recent years, can be deadly, especially to those with weakened immune systems.

The MRSA infection is commonly contracted through open wounds and sores.

A patient infected with MRSA can be treated with antibiotics.

Although the number of positive results for MRSA bacteria at RGH is high, hospital staff said patients should not panic.

“Patients that are admitted to RGH should not be concerned,” said Gayle Richerson, RGH director of patient care. “Everything is being done to ensure their safety.”

The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center partnered with rural and urban acute care and long-term care facilities to form the MRSA Collaborative. The goal is to reduce health care-associated bacteremias caused by MRSA, according to the collaboration Web site.

The study and research will create a baseline for comparison, and help to develop polices and protocol for MRSA treatment, according to Anne Timmins, project coordinator for the MRSA Collaborative,

A patient testing positive for the MRSA bacteria is isolated from other patients and the staff attending to that patient have to wear protective gear such as surgical masks, gowns and gloves, Richerson said.

The staff also follows hand hygiene, and instravasular lines protocols while the patient is being treated.

“These cautionary steps taken by the hospital are to ensure the safety of the public and patients at RGH,” Richerson said.

There has been an increase of MRSA infection nationwide, because of the virus resistance to the antibiotics, according to Deborah Busemeyer, New Mexico Department of Health communications director.