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Genesis fights hospital pneumonia with help of Delta Dental

Genesis fights hospital pneumonia with help of Delta Dental


Non-ventilated hospital acquired pneumonia is a big deal. 

It's one of the more common hospital-acquired infections, occurring at a rate of five to 20 cases per 1,000 admissions. A hospital-acquired pneumonia infection increases both cost of care and mortality rates.

Now, with the help of the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation, Genesis Health System will work to improve oral health and prevent pneumonia admissions with a $227,548 grant.

"People ask me all the time 'What's the relationship between the mouth and pneumonia?' Your mouth is like the gateway to your body for organisms," Genesis Nursing Professional Development Specialist Annette Holst said Friday. "Any time people, if they don't get good oral care, they get biofilm in their mouth and on their teeth that can be aspirated into their lungs and cause pneumonia." 

The program, modeled off of a similar one at Michigan hospital system Sparrow Health, addresses for the first time non-ventilated pneumonia. Holst said the similar program in Michigan decreased hospital-acquired pneumonia by 30%.

"So we're hoping to achieve some really good outcomes." 

For 12 months, Genesis will study all inpatients to see how the products and training affect the rate of pneumonia. Products in the program include an ADA approved toothbrush, a sodium bicarbonate based toothpaste, an oral antiseptic rinse and a mouth moisturizer. Training given to nurses will include skills labs on how to provide appropriate oral care, "lunch and learns" and speakers, including a represenative from Sparrow Health.

"Throughout our history, Delta Dental has been a leader in promoting oral health initiatives across Iowa, Delta Dental Foundation Board of Directors Chair Matt Mendenhall said of the nonprofit arm of Delta Dental. He said the foundation had gone through strategic planning for the past two years to identify trends in healthcare systems. "With this work, we recognize an opportunity to build on past successes while also aligning more with Delta Dental's growth as a company focused on vision, wellness and overall health." 

Executive Director Suzanne Heckenlaibe said the Genesis program truly supports the Delta Dental Foundation's mission. "We commend the Genesis team and their innovative approach to addressing and reducing the non-ventilated infections in the hospital setting by emphasizing the importance of oral health to patients and conducting oral health services with the appropriate tools." 

The program will begin Feb. 1 and run for 12 months.


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