On Tuesday I spent the day with doctors, nurses and health care administrators from all around the state of Indiana. These health care providers had come to Indianapolis to attend a leadership conference put on by the Indiana State Department of Health.

The first ISDH leadership conference was in 2007. Seven hundred and twenty people came. This year, over 1,000 people participated. Preventing health care acquired infections was the focus of this meeting. It is a timely and important topic. Just last week, the Archives of Internal Medicine released a study showing that hospital acquired sepsis and pneumonia killed 48,000 people and cost $8.1 billion in extra health care costs in 2006. These are just two of the many hospital acquired infections that harm patients. The CDC estimates that there are 1.7 million health care acquired infections annually, and 99,000 patients die each year because of them.
This is a subject that means a great deal to me. A hospital acquired infection played a part in my daughter Josie’s death. This was a conference I needed to be a part of.
I have always enjoyed statewide collaborations on patient safety. It is exciting to follow the journey of a group of health care professionals from different facilities coming together, sharing information, helping each other achieve a goal that they all have in common. I had seen this happen in Michigan, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Now I hoped to be able to watch Indiana- a state I had been to three times in the past seven months (with two more visits scheduled in the next two months), a state where I was meeting hundreds of amazing health care providers, a state I was becoming very fond of- tackle this problem.
My job was to kick off the meeting. My goal was to inspire these health care facilities to join in this statewide collaboration. It would mean hard, hard work for those that signed up. It would mean reporting every single, ugly, little hospital infection that occurred- full, scary transparency. The ISDH had funding for some of the facilities to partake in this 18-month effort to reduce health care associated infections. I wanted them all to sign up, and I hoped that if that happened that somewhere, somehow the ISDH could dig up the extra funding.
I made the most of my 45 minutes speaking to the group. I hope I did a good job. I think I might have, but I won’t feel satisfied with what I did until I know that the collaboration is in full swing with a full load of facilities signed up and chomping at the bit to fix this problem.
Thank you, Indiana, for letting me be a part of such an important day. Keep up the good work. I’ll be rooting for you.
P.S.- The ISHD had copies of my book on hand during the lunch break. I enjoyed meeting so many wonderful people (mostly nurses) and I enjoyed having the honor of writing notes to them in the front pages of Josie’s Story. I am glad that there is a memory of Josie left behind in Indiana because I know her story will help push them the extra mile. Unfortunately the books sold out. To those who stood in line and did not receive a book, you can learn how to get a signed copy on our website. Thank you.