Gastonia, NC Correspondent- The CDC is actually one of the few departments within the federal government that gives more than it gets in terms of dollars spent. The current epidemiological landscape is a truly terrifying one, with an increasingly mobile populace, mining and deforestation opening up potential caches of viruses and bacteria to which we have no immunity, overuse of antibiotics creating superbugs and “anti-vaxxers” waging the world’s stupidest war on herd immunity. Rather than “making” the agency do anything, I’d say we should “let” it do its job with less hand-wringing and nit-picking over measures that are vitally necessary to save not just America, but the planet from a pandemic that will make smallpox look like a heat rash. Part of that should absolutely involve hospital and clinic sanitation. The fact that hospitals are choosing to release semi-healed patients to protect them from getting hospital-borne infections should be laughable, but instead it’s downright terrifying. Civil and criminal penalties should be levied against health care workers and institutions that place the public in danger by failing to maintain basic sanitation.
Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent– The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) needs to do more than disease tracking and fighting health issues globally, which seems to be about all it has done under the current leadership of Thomas Frieden. He claims to want to protect vulnerable patients, but under his direction, dangerous super bugs and lethal infections have continued to run rampant in American hospitals.
If the CDC is going to do anything to solve these issues, leadership needs to change, and if President-elect Trump has plans for transitions in the Veteran’s Administration (VA), the same should occur with the Centers for Disease Control.
The CDC was founded to stop infectious diseases not Frieden’s current more domestic priorities of reducing automobile accidents, curbing smoking, obesity and teen pregnancies. Hospital safety and infectious disease don’t seem to have made his top ten list of urgent matters and neither has the influx of disease ridden illegals and refugees who come into the country with all kinds of diseases that were once eradicated and now are suddenly reappearing.
Frieden admitted that vulnerable patients need to be protected, but nothing has been done under his leadership to stop the serious infections that are plaguing hospitals and sickening and killing patients. These superbugs, that include a new fungus, Candida auris, are making the rounds of hospitals in the East and Midwest and little has been done to combat them. Frieden has insisted that disease prevention encompasses more than stopping infectious diseases.
Currently, next to nothing has been done to face these problems. The CDC, under new leadership, must be required to stop the spread of contagious diseases, deadly infections, and hospital filth. Clearly, priorities must be set to combat superbugs and other infections that are spreading in hospital environments and affecting medical care and routine surgeries. Going to a hospital can be a risky proposition as infections contracted during a routine hospital stay have killed thousands, more than accidents and HIV/AIDS.
Other changes need to include direct concentration on disease and the spread of infection within America, not the current practice of serving the entire globe through thousands of CDC medical workers at the expense of American taxpayers. That is the job of the World Health Organization (WHO), not the CDC. The CDC has even established health facilities, laboratories and training centers for medical personnel throughout Africa and Asia, while numerous health departments in the United States are lacking this kind of support and are unable to carry out necessary procedures to detect superbugs and other threats, such as Zika.
Budgetary adjustments for medical supplies and drugs dispensed through the CDC need to be set in motion. The CDC currently supplies AIDS drugs to over 60 percent of the world at a cost of billions, yet it sets aside considerably less for researching and combating superbugs in American hospitals. Other questionable expenses have been incurred in other countries concerning the distribution of scientific output through research and medical journals as the CDC has initiated numerous programs to improve scientific output in central Asia.
Hospital cleanliness is not the critical issue it should be with the CDC as surfaces in hospital rooms are teaming with deadly germs that can survive for years, such as CRE and C. diff, which can place every patient in danger that occupies an unsanitary room. The CDC must make proper cleaning of hospital rooms and other areas a high priority. No surface should be overlooked and new cleaning technologies must be employed such as disinfecting rooms through fogging, killing germs with ultra-violet light and using ionized water.
It is obvious that the CDC has misplaced its priorities and lost its true focus of fighting infectious diseases in America. The entire organization needs strict reform and replacement of administrators from the top down. The pledge has been made by the new president to clean up the Veterans Administration and it would be a wise move to do the same at the Centers for Disease Control.
Owatonna, NC Correspondent– Problems with spreading disease and unsanitary conditions usually can be blamed on either human error, lack of oversight, or lack of funding to provide enough personnel and equipment to do a proper job. Since the CDC doesn’t directly manage any hospitals—Veterans or otherwise—it can’t be held directly responsible for inadequate cleaning or prevention of the spread of superbugs.
What the CDC is doing is publicizing the issue, advising hospitals on proper safety procedures, and limit the number and dosages of antibiotics given to patients. Superbugs arise from mutations of bacteria that develop immunities or resistance to current antibiotics. This requires the development of new and stronger antibiotics that can kill the superbugs. But it’s a cycle that will continue indefinitely.
Educating patients is also an important job of the CDC. Patients must be informed that automatically taking an antibiotic is not always in their best interest. Patient hygiene is also important, as is patient awareness of unsanitary conditions in their individual hospital situations. All this can be helped by more and better communication by the CDC with patients and health care providers on how to best combat superbugs and avoid unsanitary conditions.
All this education and training take time and money. Congress seems willing to provide funding, having appropriated $160 million in new funding for the CDC to implement its activities listed in the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-resistant Bacteria. The goals of this plan are to accelerate outbreak detection, enhance tracking of resistance mechanisms and resistant infections, support innovative research to address current gaps in knowledge, and improve antibiotic use.
The superbug problem won’t go away quickly or easily, but the CDC must be the leader in minimizing its effects on the nation’s health before superbugs become an epidemic problem.