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APIC 2023: No Hospital Is an Island

By Gary Evans, Medical Writer

ORLANDO, FL. June 27, 2023 – In terms of health equity, the pandemic demonstrated considerable need and the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology has decided to act.

The APIC Health Equity Fund was announced at the association’s 2023 annual meeting to provide free IP resources to underserved U.S. communities. This is an ambitious project with a long-term view of bringing in other types of healthcare settings, but it will begin with remote, rural “critical access hospitals.”

“We have a big problem with health inequity; we know that isolated rural areas don’t have equal access to healthcare,” said APIC President Pat Jackson, RN, CIC. “So, our idea is by creating this fund we can help these IPs, and secondarily improve infection prevention in their communities. Having been an APIC member for 29 years, we have never done something like this, where we have given so many resources to our members that really need it.”

The project is a joint effort — with the support of sponsors — by APIC, APIC Consulting Services, and the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology (CBIC). The first three years will focus on critical access hospitals, which must apply and will be selected based on the merit of their application. Each hospital selected will receive:

    • 150 hours of free IPC consulting services
    • Two free APIC memberships and Chapter memberships for two years
    • Two free subscriptions to the APIC Text for two years
    • Two free certification prep courses
    • Two free a-IPC™ or CIC® certification exams
    • Access to the APIC Policies and Procedures Library for two years
    • Two free APIC Annual Conference registrations for two years, including travel expenses
    • Membership in APIC’s new Critical Access Hospital virtual network

To that latter point, the idea is creating connectivity between these hospitals, both with each other and APIC. This may prove as important as any aspect of the program, as such a virtual network could be easily expanded and provide peer-to-peer problem solving, camaraderie and mentorship opportunities.

Each year, for three years, three critical access facilities will be awarded the APIC scholarship, so APIC is aiming for nine fully up-to-speed hospitals by December 2026. The total value of each scholarship is more than $50,000.

The application period for the critical access hospitals opens in late August, with a due date of Sept. 30, 2023. Awardees will be notified in October.

Critical access hospitals are remote by definition, some 30 miles from another hospital and having no more than 25 acute care beds. As life-lines in rural communities, they have different rules for participation and reimbursement by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), and for severely ill patients they often rely on transfer to full-service hospitals.

Sometimes these transfers happen in time, sometimes — particularly during the height of the pandemic — they do not. Thus, the case of the 33-year-old-woman in a critical care hospital in Moscow, Idaho, who died of pneumonia in early 2022 awaiting transfer to another facility. There were no beds available, as many were filled with COVID-19 patients.

Editor’s note: More information on the APIC program can be found here.

Gary Evans, BA, MA, is covering APIC 2023 in Orlando. Gary has written hundreds articles on infectious disease threats to both patients and healthcare workers for more than three decades. These include stories on multidrug resistant healthcare associated infections caused by bacteria and fungi, and emerging pandemic viruses like SARS-1, 2009 H1N1 flu, SARS-CoV-2, and Avian influenza. He has been honored for excellence in analytical reporting five times by the National Press Club in Washington, DC.