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Although the H1N1 influenza virus is garnering more headlines, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), is still a major public health threat. This year, MRSA deaths in the United States far exceeded those caused by the swine flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“We must remember that MRSA remains a serious problem in hospitals and in other health-care settings and anywhere in the community where people congregate,” said Dr. Jorge Parada, associate professor of medicine, infectious diseases at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood. “Also, there is an increased risk to children and teens this time of the year with the beginning of school and school-related activities like sporting events and gym classes.”
To assist in decreasing that risk, Loyola has opened a clinic dedicated to the care of patients with MRSA, a strain of bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics that are commonly used to treat staphylococcal infections. The strain can survive for hours, even days, on inanimate objects, given the right conditions. Currently, between 5 percent and 10 percent of people are infected, many without realizing it, and it is not known when that number will plateau.
“The clinic is part of a greater effort to address and eliminate these drug-resistant organisms,” said Parada, who is also medical director of the infection control program at Loyola University Health System in Maywood. “Loyola’s effort to control MRSA has been recognized and lauded at national and international infectious disease meetings.”
Parada will care for patients from 8 a.m. to noon, Fridays at the Loyola Outpatient Center, 2160 S. First Ave., Maywood. He will team with Dr. Jamie Belmares, assistant professor of medicine, infectious diseases, Stritch School of Medicine. Both are board certified in infectious diseases and fluent in English and Spanish.
Since 2005, Loyola has been among the first hospitals in the nation to initiate several aggressive strategies to detect and reduce MRSA. Active screening and surveillance have been used successfully in the neonatal unit and in the intensive care unit. The testing involves DNA analysis of a nasal swab sample at the time of admission. Results are returned within two hours. The decision to move to universal hospital screening grew out of the significant reduction in infection seen in these two areas.
MRSA clinic patients will benefit from the lessons learned by Loyola’s multi-disciplinary infection-control experts and from its leading-edge prevention strategies and eradication resources.
“The whole goal of the clinic is to address people’s concerns about MRSA, educate them about MRSA and explain to them about what their options are with regards to trying to rid themselves of MRSA,” Parada said.
To schedule an appointment with Parada, Belmares or any other Loyola physician, call toll-free (888) LUHS-888 and ask for extension 7100.