The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) awarded 11 local health departments with grants of up to $25,000 as part of its Lessons in INfection Control (LINC) initiative.

The sites were selected through a competitive process and, with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have been awarded funds to help improve infection control coordination between health care facilities.

The initiative comes in response to the 2014 Ebola crisis, about which NACCHO states “several events during the Ebola response in the United States exposed gaps in infection control, such as the transmission of Ebola from a patient to health care workers and delays in communicating and implementing personal protective equipment (PPE) measures.”

Award recipients will not only test creative solutions to address the gaps identified during the U.S. response to Ebola, but also ways to combat the 700,000 health care-associated infections (HAIs) in the U.S. each year. The local health departments will support staff in obtaining certification in infection control, and demonstration sites will conduct tabletop exercises to simulate emergency situations and test responses of staff and partners.

Other planned activities to enhance preparedness include:

  • Assessing current infection control capacity by surveying local health care facility HAI policies, programs and staff, and conducting internal capacity assessments.
  • Improving regional infection control infrastructure by developing regional infection control plans for health care facilities, compiling comprehensive inventories of health care facilities in the locality, increasing enrollment in a regional emergency notification network, and creating a coalition that will develop interfacility transfer forms and standards.
  • Advancing local health department and health care facility knowledge by conducting training on infection control and creating educational materials related to specific HAIs (including carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae and Clostridium difficile) to be used by hospitals and long-term care facility staff.
  • Strengthening efforts in response to outbreaks by improving patient notification during nosocomial outbreaks and implementing an assessment of local health department response that occurred during the 2014 Ebola outbreak and using findings to guide the development of a learning portal for local health department staff.

The local health departments that received the award are:

  • Barren River District Health Department (Ky.)
  • Clark County Public Health (Wash.)
  • Eau Claire City-County Health Department (Wis.)
  • El Paso County Public Health (Colo.)
  • Flathead City-County Health Department (Mont.)
  • Florida Department of Health Pasco County
  • Kent County Health Department (Mich.)
  • Marion County Public Health Department (Ind.)
  • Kanawha-Charleston Health Department (W.Va.)
  • Public Health – Seattle & King County (Wash.)
  • St. Louis City Department of Health (Mo.)

NACCHO says it will post updates from these sites as their projects progress.