Infectious disease threats, high incidence/prevalence of health care–associated infections, and multidrug-resistant organisms challenge hospitals to improve infection prevention/control strategies and infectious disease preparedness/response efforts.
The Los Angeles County (LAC) Department of Public Health (DPH), Hospital Outreach Unit (HOU) addressed this need with the liaison public health nurse (LPHN) project, which is designed to strengthen capacity and bridge the care continuum with hospitals to prevent/control infectious disease.
The project utilizes 5 LPHNs who interface with LAC hospitals to improve reporting of infectious disease/hospital outbreaks, strengthen the surveillance infrastructure, and enhance communication/collaboration. The LPHNs communicate regularly and meet one-on-one with hospital infection preventionists with focused discussion, consultation, and assessment of infectious disease, participate in joint infection control meetings/conferences/calls, outreach on joint public health projects, and educate/train hospital staff.
Within the first 7 years of implementation (2003) of the unit, reporting of hospital outbreaks increased 27%; hospitals reporting infectious disease via a county reporting system increased 95% during the same period. Currently, 64% of hospitals are reporting via the electronic laboratory reporting system (automated transmission to public health of reportable laboratory findings). In addition, the number of hospital infection control committee meetings LPHNs were invited to increased 96% during the first 7 years. The LPHNs/HOU participate(d) in 9 joint infection prevention/control projects with hospitals.
The threat of emerging infectious disease, health care–associated infections, and multidrug-resistant organisms is an ongoing challenge. Preventing infectious disease requires innovative approaches to effect and empower hospitals to respond. The LAC DPH LPHN project has proved to be an invaluable resource and key component to enable effective communication/collaboration to improve infection prevention and control strategies/preparedness efforts and protect the public's health from infectious disease.