My father died 10 years ago last week, on Jan. 8, 2009, as a result of a hospital-acquired MRSA infection. He was the third senior from Millinocket to contract and die of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in the community hospital in just a couple of months. My family and I were not alerted to this risk when he went into the hospital to get back onto his feet from a minor ankle fracture.

Once infected, he was unable to sit up without fainting, and he was unable to eat. So his health declined very rapidly. He spent three weeks in the hospital that infected him and a couple of months in a nursing home.

What has changed since then? These infections are now publicly reported, but I’m not convinced that all of them are. There is definitely more public awareness and people know to ask their caregivers to wash their hands. But how much have these infections actually been decreased?

I continue to work with the state Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthcare Associated Infections Advisory Council to develop a plan to stop these infections. I also work with a national group. Many have lost someone because of hospital-acquired infection, like I did.

Suggestions that may help boost progress:

n The state of Maine could create a method for patients to report their own infections to the Maine CDC.

n Give the Maine CDC regulatory powers. As it stands, they have to be invited into a facility where there is a problem. The facility can refuse to allow them in.

Kathy Day

Patient Safety Action Network