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A "Silent Epidemic" You Can't Afford to Ignore [Guest Post]

Guest post by Emily Croke, a recent graduate of Providence College in Rhode Island, where she studied Psychology, Film, and History. Her specific interests include Health Psychology and documentary filmmaking. After losing her father in 2008 to a number of healthcare-associated infections, Emily is committed to raising awareness in the fight against such infections...
 

In August of 2008, I lost my father to a number of healthcare-associated infections, or HAIs, including C. diff, MRSA, and pseudomonas. As I began my freshman year at Providence College the following week, I started doing research to learn more about what happened to my dad. What I learned astonished me.

Healthcare-associated infections kill nearly 99,000 individuals each year in the United States alone, and infect an estimated 1.6 million other individuals. Such infections can be prevented in many cases through several simple methods, such as hand-washing to remove germs like C. diff, which cannot always be killed by simply using hand sanitizer. Another 200,000 people die annually due to sepsis, which is an illness where bacteria overwhelm the bloodstream. Early detection of such symptoms is essential in order to save the lives of those who develop this toxic blood poisoning.  

With all of the startling information I discovered while piecing together the events of my dad’s final weeks of life, I became dedicated to sharing this information with others to help them from experiencing the horrors my dad and family were forced to endure. My first success came in the winter of 2009, when I spoke at the Rhode Island State House to help pass a bill requiring the reporting of certain healthcare-associated infections. As time went on, I knew I needed to do more to help raise awareness and save lives.

The perfect opportunity arose this past year, when I decided to make a short documentary for a film class about my experience with these infections. The film, “A Silent Epidemic,” features my dad’s story, stories of other people whose lives have been impacted by these infections and sepsis, and the input of several professionals who discuss what can be done to prevent these infections from killing someone you love.  

I’m so grateful to have been able to include the story of Doreen Dupont Bettencourt, who became a nurse after she nearly died from sepsis in 2004. Her inspiring story is one of the many elements that make this film worth watching, as it is heartwarming, entertaining, engaging and informative.

Through my work with this project, as well as several others related to HAIs, I hope to make people more aware about what a serious issue this is, and what can be done to prevent it from happening to them. “A Silent Epidemic” is not in any way an attack on the medical field; rather, it is a calling to all people that there are a number of things that can be done to prevent infections and save lives if we work together. It is the responsibility of every person, including healthcare workers, patients, and their families, to recognize the risks and take action to prevent more lives from being lost to this silent epidemic.

Having to relive the horrors of the six weeks my dad was in the hospital has definitely been a challenge for me, but I know that if my film can save just one life, then it was worth every sleepless night I spent working on it. I truly appreciate the generosity of everyone who has helped make this film possible, and especially the kindness of those who are taking time out of their busy schedules to watch it and share it with others.

I encourage everyone to please watch and share the film to raise awareness. If nothing else, please take my story and the information provided in the film as a way to help yourself and your loved ones. If we work together, I truly believe we can bring an end to this silent epidemic.


To watch on YouTube, click here: http://youtu.be/OibiG-gDXA0.

For more information, or to contact me, please visit http://www.facebook.com/asilentepidemic

My sincerest thanks to Swanson Health Products for allowing me to share my film with their fans. It’s great to see such a well-established and successful company take the time to support and promote projects to help ensure the safety of their customers.

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