When it comes to adopting a culture of innovation at your hospital, you needn’t let a lack of financial resources hold you back.

That’s what Todd C. Linden, president and CEO of Grinnell (Iowa) Medical Center said during a panel on innovation at the Hospitals &Health Networks Executive Forum held in October. By “constantly turning to the community” to find ways to partner around common goals, Grinnell Medical Center has found ways to capitalize on ingenuity without breaking the bank.

For example, Grinnell Medical Center partnered with Grinnell College to study how copper surfaces could reduce hospital-acquired infections and, sure enough, biology students found that by using copper (instead of plastic and wood) on high-touch surfaces within a hospital setting (such as grab bars, keyboards, switches and sinks), they were able to dramatically reduce the amount of bacteria present. Grinnell Medical Center implemented copper coating on 16 surfaces in half of its surgery rooms, and reduced bacteria by 90 percent over an 18-month period. This ultimately led to a 60 percent reduction in HAIs.

“That’s a stunning kind of result, and for us it was just a matter of reaching into our community and finding a resource,” Linden said. “It’s not costing Grinnell any resources, and it’s bringing new knowledge to the field.”

Read about more hospital innovations discussed at the forum from our sister magazine, Hospitals & Health Networks