A group of local heart specialists has joined with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases to boost pneumonia vaccination rates among at-risk patients.
Northeast Ohio Cardiovascular Specialists is working with the national nonprofit group, led by Dr. Thomas File, chair of the infectious disease division at Summa Health System in Akron.
The goal of the project is to educate patients “to see what we can do to increase the uptake of utilization of this vaccine for patients who are at greater risk for complications,” said File, who is serving a two-year term as president of the national group. “I consider this part of the heart-healthy preventive measures.”
The pneumococcal disease vaccine is recommended for people older than 18 who have underlying conditions — including chronic heart disease — that put them at higher risk for complications from infection, File said. The vaccine also is recommended for everyone 65 and older.
However, File said, studies have shown less than 20 percent of patients with underlying disease who are younger than 65 get the vaccine, despite the recommendations.
To raise awareness, the national group worked with the Akron cardiology practice to develop an educational sheet that can be shared with patients, File said. Ritzman Pharmacies and Walgreens then will report whether the number of pneumococcal vaccines they administer increases.
The vaccine is often covered by insurance companies for at-risk patients, File said.
“One of our goals is to increase public awareness of the importance of these preventive vaccines,” File said.
If the pilot project is successful, he said, “it can potentially be used nationwide.”
Doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants will share information with the practices’ patients to let them know the vaccine is recommended by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, said Dr. William B. Bauman, executive board co-chair for Northeast Ohio Cardiovascular Specialists.
“Everybody agrees it’s something we should strive for with our cardiac patients,” he said.
The project is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Pfizer Inc., but National Foundation for Infectious Diseases’ policies prohibit funders from controlling programs.
Another partner has agreed to join the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron.
The BioInnovation Institute announced it has reached a memorandum of understanding with Lorain County Community College.
The institute and community college agreed this month “to build a partnership to accelerate the commercialization of novel medical technologies that can advance economic growth, stimulate job creation, foster talent development, enrich patient care and improve community health in Northeast Ohio,” according to a news release.
Details still are being finalized, a spokesman for the BioInnovation Institute said.
The BioInnovation Institute recently began seeking industry, university and hospital partners outside the region as the founding institutions consider whether to continue participation.
Akron’s three hospital systems, the University of Akron and Northeast Ohio Medical University launched the venture five years ago to boost medical-related economic development in the Akron area.
The goal is to increase the BioInnovation Institute’s revenues by attracting hospitals, colleges and others that want expert help developing and commercializing new products, BioInnovation Institute leaders have said.
The Akron General Medical Center Nurses Week basket raffle to benefit local charities continues through Friday.
A total of 32 themed baskets with values ranging from $110 to $3,000 are available. Tickets are on sale from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the main lobby, where the baskets are displayed. Cost is $1 each or six for $5.
The basket that gets the most tickets will donate half of the total basket earnings to its designated charity. Second and third place donate 25 percent of total earnings each to their designated charities.
Last year, the event raised $23,647 for OPEN M.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.