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CDC awards YNHHS funding to support innovations in infection prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has awarded Yale New Haven Health System funds to develop innovative infection prevention and control (IPC) approaches.

YNHHS secured the funding in partnership with Yale’s schools of Medicine, Public Health, and Engineering and Applied Sciences, with support from YNHHS’ Grants Resource Office. Funds will be used to develop IPC approaches within YNHHS that can inform practices nationwide. YNHHS is among 10 award recipients in the United States.

“The overall focus is to create safer, healthier spaces for patients and staff by improving our ability to prevent the transmission of infectious pathogens,” said Richard Martinello, MD, medical director, Infection Prevention, Yale New Haven Hospital and YNHHS, and professor of medicine and pediatrics (infectious diseases) at Yale School of Medicine. 

Under this cooperative agreement, activities will address three areas: 

  • Assess the “built environment” to improve safety related to pathogen transmission
  • Strengthen healthcare IPC preparedness to improve the U.S. response to infectious disease threats
  • Develop an immersive IPC education program that includes virtual reality and simulation 

“First, we consider the hospital buildings and aspects of them, such as ventilation and plumbing. We will assess how people work and how we work with medical devices within those buildings,” Dr. Martinello said. “The goal is to find opportunities to improve safety in the context of pathogen transmission.”

A second area of focus is strengthening healthcare IPC preparedness in the U.S. to respond to infectious disease threats and other public health emergencies rapidly, safely and effectively. At YNHHS, activities will focus on further integrating existing IPC strategies with the electronic health record system. The goal is to develop standardized IPC workflows for inpatient and ambulatory settings to ensure timely identification and management and decrease the risk of infection spread. 

The third area will involve developing an education program on effective IPC practices that includes traditional and virtual reality instruction. This will be a teaching tool for a diverse range of healthcare disciplines and patient services, along with patients. The educational programs will also address health disparities that impact IPC practices within specific populations, underscoring the system’s commitment to health equity and innovation.  

“Our goal is to develop innovative education that can be adapted to different platforms and audiences,” said Thomas Murray, MD, associate medical director, Infection Prevention, Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, and associate professor of pediatrics (infectious diseases) at Yale School of Medicine. “These include patients, families and healthcare providers in various settings, such as health clinics as well as hospitals. As we expand beyond the hospital, we want to ensure that there are no barriers to access.” 

Work in all three areas will occur over the next five years, mostly at YNHH. The Grants Resource Office will support the work. Additional funding may be available for each year of the project.

“Over the course of the project, we will disseminate information throughout our health system and to Yale Medicine, and promote recommendations and findings nationally and internationally,” Dr. Martinello said.