CDC Reveals Plan of Support for America’s Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Programs: Are You Ready for the Ride?
On September 17, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that $2.1B will be invested in strengthening infection prevention and control activities throughout the U.S. public health and healthcare sectors1. This funding will allow expansion of public health programs and improve the quality of patient safety programs within healthcare to address emerging pathogens (like SARS-CoV-2), to tackle the increase in healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) impacted by the pandemic focus, and to proactively invest in needed technology, innovation, staffing, and other resources.
In addition to acute care facilities, this commitment in funding will span the healthcare continuum which is great news for long-term care, dialysis, ambulatory surgery centers, and other outpatient health facilities typically void of a robust infection prevention program.
What Do We Expect to See?
The CDC will systematically issue approximately $1.25B to state, local, and territorial health departments over the next 3 years with most of the initial funds (~$500M) to support the fight against COVID-19 in the disproportionately affected population. The formation of trained state-based nursing home/long-term care strike teams will assist in COVID-19 outbreaks, address staffing shortages, strengthen surveillance and prevention activities, and support vaccine booster programs.
An additional $385M will be allocated to the state, local, and territorial health departments to bolster five critical areas for infection prevention and control:
- Strengthen state capacity to prevent, detect, and contain infectious disease threats.
- Strengthen laboratory capacity (state and regional) to provide better detection for emerging pathogens and antibiotic-resistant organisms.
- Support Project Firstline efforts to train and educate healthcare professionals on effective infection prevention and controls methods including how to protect themselves.
- Increase data monitoring via National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) to detect when infections are occurring and to target IPC interventions.
- Support antibiotic stewardship programs through data analysis of state antibiotic use and implementation of program improvements.
Healthcare partners, academic institutions, and nonprofit organizations will also benefit from some of the funding over several years in support of IPC program development and education.
What Does This Mean for Infection Prevention Professionals?
This is a much-needed booster for IPC professionals! One of the struggles for most IPC programs, as a typically non-generating revenue cost center, is showing the value and worth of the program. If a program is working well with very low HAI rates, support funding is not usually top of mind for the financial decision-makers. This CDC announcement is a welcome relief for those IPC professionals who have struggled to:
- Increase FTE positions to enhance their program
- Implement newer infection prevention technologies (i.e., no-touch disinfection, surveillance systems)
- Obtain funds for ongoing education and certification
- Conduct and publish research in support of the science
As recently voiced in a September statement2 by the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC)’s President, Ann Marie Pettis, “The new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing dramatic increases in healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) during 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, are quite troubling and must serve as a call to action. As a nation, we must take significant efforts to bolster our infection prevention and control programs throughout the healthcare continuum. APIC also calls on federal and state governments to provide funding to help support healthcare facilities across the continuum of care to ensure that there is adequate surge capacity so that infection prevention and control measures will endure when stressed by future pandemics and disease outbreaks.”
Well, it seems that the call to action has been heard! I, like many of my colleagues/peers, will be anxious to begin this new journey of support/funding in the battle against preventable diseases. There is much opportunity to improve patient safety and public health as the nation builds resiliency against infectious disease. Are you ready for the ride?