Hoosiers Come Together to Raise Awareness at the Rally Against Sepsis

Sepsis is a public health issue. It is more common than a heart attack and claims more lives than prostate cancer, breast cancer and AIDS combined. Yet, according to the 2017 Sepsis Alliance Awareness Survey, only 58 percent of Americans have even heard of sepsis.

Sepsis Awareness Month is held each September to increase awareness of this deadly infection, and on Sept. 13, World Sepsis Day, countless events take place all over the world to educate the public about the signs and symptoms of sepsis. This year, for the second year in a row, the Indiana Patient Safety Center (IPSC) of the Indiana Hospital Association (IHA) hosted a Rally Against Sepsis on World Sepsis Day to encourage Hoosiers to get involved in spreading the word about sepsis.

The Rally Against Sepsis took place from 10-11 a.m. at the Indiana War Memorial with speakers who highlighted the three arms of IHA’s sepsis awareness campaign: See It. Stop It. Survive It. To kick off the event, Pam Pontones, deputy state health commissioner and state epidemiologist with the Indiana State Department of Health, spoke about the signs and symptoms of sepsis to help Hoosiers See It. Dr. Michael Snyder, pulmonologist with Franciscan Health Indianapolis, discussed the impact sepsis has on patients and the actions everyone can take to help Stop It. To wrap up the event, Jennifer Callicoat, a sepsis survivor, told her story in the hope that more people will Survive It. Callicoat, a young, active mother with a busy life, thought she had the flu one day and was in the intensive care unit with sepsis the next. Her story was a somber reminder that sepsis can happen to anyone.

Following the Rally Against Sepsis, the IPSC hosted the inaugural Spotlight on Sepsis educational event. This portion of the day focused on a more clinical viewpoint and featured three leaders in the fight against sepsis in Indiana. Susan McAllister, D.N.P., RN, vice president of clinical integration at Fort Wayne-based Parkview Health, and Chad Owen, RN, director of communications, EMS, flight services, patient logistics and flow at Parkview Health, kicked off the afternoon by sharing how Parkview Health has implemented a pilot program with skilled nursing facilities to identify and treat sepsis early through community paramedicine. Next, Dr. Victor Chavez and Joanna Johnson, RN, with St. Vincent Evansville discussed the efforts of the sepsis team at their facility and how the hospital is leveraging technology to decrease sepsis and sepsis mortality rates. Finally, Dr. Lee Kiser, associate chief medical officer at Columbus Regional Health, discussed how the health system developed a multidisciplinary sepsis team that includes medical, clinical, pharmacy, health information, quality management and lab staff. As a physician champion, Kiser has led the effort to increase not only physician engagement, but also staff engagement and stress that it is everyone’s responsibility to be involved with early recognition and treatment of severe sepsis and septic shock.

Attendees, who ranged from health care professionals to a class from Pike High School, received t-shirts, magnets, first aid kits, educational materials and more. A banner was also available for photo opportunities.

Mark your calendars for next year’s Rally Against Sepsis on Sept. 13. For more information on how to increase awareness at your hospital, go to IHAconnect.org/PatientSafety.