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Hilo nurse honored for efforts to curb infections

<p>HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald</p><p>Registered nurse Dianne “Dee” Adkins won a national award for battling infections at Hale Anuenue Restorative Care Center.</p>


Tribune-Herald staff writer

Registered nurse Dianne “Dee” Adkins knows a thing or two about infection protection.

Adkins works at the 120-bed Hale Anuenue Restorative Care Center, where she noted that urinary tract infections were occurring with alarming frequency among the facility’s patients. One-third of all the infections being seen were in the urinary tract. Most of the UTIs, as they are called, were occurring among women, some with mild to moderate dementia.

Adkins wanted an education program that would reduce the rate of UTIs at the facility, but there was no precedent for teaching infection prevention self-care to patients residing in a long-term care setting, especially patients with cognitive disabilities. But Adkins was undeterred.

“Just because there isn’t a model doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing,” she said.

So she designed one herself.

Hale Anuenue had 26 E. coli-associated UTIs in one year prior to implementing Adkins’ education plan. The first year she implemented the program, UTIs dropped to eight.

The success of Adkins’ program earned her recognition as one of 12 “Heroes of Infection Prevention” awards, given to members of the Washington, D.C.-based national Association for Professionals in Infection Control. Adkins returned two weeks ago from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where she was presented with the award.

Since inception of the awards program in 2006, nearly 100 individuals and groups have been recognized for their work in reducing health care-associated infections. Criteria for selection include innovations in education, patient safety, advocacy and influence, process and program development, and cost savings.

Adkins called the convention “fabulously exciting and humbling,” with 4,100 health care professionals from 23 countries attending. The highlight for her was being asked to write an academic paper on the infection protection model she developed for long-term care patients.

Adkins’ program at Hale Anuenue also energized the facility’s residents. Patients were pleased and honored to be included in the program, she said.

“One stopped me to say, ‘Thank you for finding me worthy of education,’”she said.

The 2013 infection protection plan includes one session per quarter, and residents can’t wait for them, she said.

Adkins didn’t know precisely how many dollars are saved with with her model, but she said the antibiotics used to treat UTI and the added patient time under a doctor’s care drive up the costs of long-term care quickly.

She also credited the facility’s staff for pitching in to provide dietary assistance and educational activities for patients.

“It was a real team effort,” she said.

Adkins isn’t the only Hale Anuenue staffer to gain recognition for her work. Kelly Silva, director of nursing, was named Director of Nursing of the Year for the Life Care Center of America’s Mountain States Division in April. The honor is given to a director in each of Life Care’s seven divisions, who is outstanding in customer service ratings, staff development and in state surveys.

Silva, a 17-year employee at Hale Anuenue, was selected from directors of nursing in 30 facilities in Colorado, Hawaii, New Mexico and Wyoming. She was recognized for leading her clinical team to achieve a five-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and establishing programs that reduce falls and eliminate the need for restraints, and improving pain management for post-surgery residents. Silva also was honored for demonstrating compassion for all residents, their family members and friends, and for stepping up to assist another local nursing center as director of nursing during a transition period, according to the documentation for the award.

“Kelly Silva is a living example of what the honorable nursing profession is all about,” said Beecher Hunter, Life Care president. “She administrators her God-given talents in a spirit of love and compassion to help make the lives of others better. We’re proud of her and all of our nursing award winners.”

Hale Anuenue, at 1333 Waianuenue Ave., is one of four skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities in Hawaii operated or managed by Life Care Centers of America., a nationwide health care company based in Cleveland, Tenn., with 220 nursing, post-acute and Alzheimer’s facilities in 28 states.

Email Hunter Bishop at hbishop@hawaiitribune-herald.com.


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