Online Exclusives

Talking HAIs with Hackensack University Medical Center

By Tim Wright, Editor | August 13, 2013

A Q&A with director of infection control, Wendy Hess, RN, CIC.

In a region that boasts more world-class hospitals per square mile than anywhere else, Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, NJ, is among its elite. U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of the nation’s finest hospitals placed HackensackUMC third out of 179 hospitals ranked in the New York metropolitan area, and number one in New Jersey.

Also, for the seventh consecutive year, Healthgrades has named HackensackUMC one of the Nation’s 50 Best Hospitals, placing it in the top one percent of hospitals nationwide and making it the only hospital in New Jersey, New York, and New England that has achieved this distinction 7 years in a row.


Wendy Hess, director, infection control, Hackensack UMC.
We spoke with HackensackUMC’s Wendy Hess, RN, CIC and director of infection control about the role the hospital is taking in the ongoing fight against healthcare associated infections (HAIs).

Nonwovens Industry: The increasing incidences of healthcare associated infections (HAIs) are a cause of concern for patients, the healthcare industry and governments. What are your thoughts?

Wendy Hess: Prevention of healthcare associated infections is a priority for hospitals, all types of healthcare facilities, state and federal governments and consumer groups. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 20 patients will contract a healthcare associated infection leading to increased medical costs, increased length of stay and possible adverse outcomes for patients.

NWI: What active role is HackensackUMC taking to fight HAIs?

WH: HackensackUMC has implemented policies and procedures incorporating all CDC guidelines and regulatory mandates for prevention of healthcare associated infections. The medical center’s Infection Control Department performs hospital-wide surveillance for infection and educates staff in all departments on infection prevention practices.  

NWI: The use of disposable hospital supplies to help prevent HAIs such as single-use gloves, drapes and gowns has seen steady growth in recent years. Do you see this trend continuing?

WH: Yes. Single-use disposable items that are used for patient care ensures aseptic practices and prevents transmission of organisms from patient to patient.

NWI: AT HackensackUMC, do you use single-use disposables (gloves, drapes, gowns, masks) or do you continue to use laundered items?

WH: Yes. Items used for patient care, such as gowns, gloves, drapes and masks and other medical supplies are single-use disposables. Laundered items, such as linens are laundered by a contracted vendor according to best practice guidelines.

NWI: What are the advantages and disadvantages to using disposable vs. laundered items, or vice versa?

WH: Use of disposable direct patient care items ensures asepsis and avoids possible organism or disease transmission. Regulatory guidelines now incorporate the use of disposables in guideline development based on scientific studies. Cost of disposables is a significant consideration for healthcare budgets; however, the cost of the items pales in comparison to the cost of a healthcare associated infection. Paying it forward can avoid a negative impact on patients and on the bottom line.

U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of the nation’s finest hospitals placed HackensackUMC third out of 179 hospitals ranked in the New York metropolitan area, and number one in New Jersey.
NWI: What are hospitals looking for from suppliers of single-use disposables?

WH: Hospitals are looking for high quality products at low cost to be able to provide the best options without overburdening budgets. Also, manufacturer support for all aspects of the product including the provision of education to staff in proper product use is essential.

NWI: Do you believe the nonwovens industry that supplies single-use disposables is doing a good job of reaching out to the healthcare industry? What more can be done?

WH: Yes. Information is available in respected journals, studies, vendor presence at national conferences and vendor communication to the various hospital departments who participate in product choices. Manufacturers need to be conscious of product cost when presenting new products for implementation, as cost is a primary factor in product choice.

NWI: Who decides at the hospital the types of products that are used (single-use or laundered) and what is the procurement process for such products?

WH: Product decisions are made by a multi-disciplinary group and presented for trial and/or approval at the Product and Value Analysis Committee of the hospital. All aspects including cost, quality, staff education needs, clinical implications and other entities are addressed before product decisions are made.

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