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Real Estate Bisnow
August 20, 2008

Inova Alexandria’s
New Pneumonia


Just a month into the job, Inova Alexandria Hospital CMO Jack Audett has the difficult task of facing national data that suggests a large number of patients are dying from aspiration pneumonia contracted after they’re admitted. Jack says they’ve already unveiled a new protocol targeting the ailment, and he allowed us to stop by last week to hear more. We left the interview without any foreign substances in our airways—so far, so good.


The protocol offers steps to identify and reduce the factors leading to aspiration pneumonia. For example, any patient over 70 admitted for diminished cough response will automatically receive intravenous medication instead of oral and see a speech therapist to check for swallowing problems. Nursing interventions will also be reviewed. The pilot program debuts this week, and Jack says a positive result will lead to a roll-out across the entire Inova system. Success would also mean similar mortality-reducing protocols for acute renal failure and sepsis.


We knew Jack had good taste when we saw his monthly motivation, Kevin from NBC’s The Office. Another motivator: Replicating Inova’s 100% CMS-score for treating heart attacks in other areas such as community-acquired pneumonia and surgical initiatives. The first step to that goal is convincing some of their more experienced surgeons to un-learn outdated med-school teachings which may no longer be approved by CMS. For example, many have been trained to shave a patient before surgery, but recent evidence suggests that actually increases infection risk by removing a protective outer layer of skin. New rules call for using a clipper instead. No truth to the rumor you must rinse and repeat.


Jack didn’t take the decision to join Inova lightly, spending three years interviewing before choosing to relocate to Virginia from a job as SVP at Kent Hospital in Rhode Island. There he developed two residency programs and was an early adopter of rapid response teams that cut the mortality rate and reduced the need for ICU transfers. We’re quite certain he hasn’t seen the last of his old home state. As the old saying goes, you can take the man out of New England, but when his wife and the Patriots are still there, he’s bound to return. For just that reason, Jack’s planning a late September vacation.

Curtis Raye is looking for more medical stories. Are you going green? Implementing safety measures? Have complaints about the system? Or helpful remedies for such complaints? Track him down at Curtis@Bisnow.com.

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