View the The Chicago Declaration – released October 1, 2011 at the 3rd Annual World MRSA Day Kickoff event and Global MRSA Summit in Chicago.
MSN’s Groundbreaking Crusade For Change and to Save Lives
Founder, Jeanine Thomas started her advocacy work to raise awareness about MRSA and healthcare-acquired infections in early 2002. She wrote letters to the CDC and NIH, but did not receive satisfactory answers or information.
She kept researching and in July of 2002, the Chicago Tribune (reporters Michael J. Berens and Bruce Japsen) came out with their series on hospital-acquired infections and she was able to get more information. Finally, some one was writing about this. Most people she talked with have never heard of MRSA. No one was interested in the subject and she talked with everyone she knew and met about MRSA; how it was contracted and that we had an epidemic. MRSA was truly the secret and silent killer.
The Illinois Hospital Report Card Act -
The First Reporting Bill In The U.S.
She wrote letters to the IL Governor to sign the Hospital Report Card Act and became the consumer representative on the advisory board in 2003. The IL Hospital Report Card Act was the first legislation in the U.S. to mandate reporting of hospital-acquired infections and patient -to- nurse staffing ratios. This was the model legislation for other states. She raised awareness to state health officials and the IL U.S. delegation; ringing the alarm that MRSA was at epidemic levels, but was ignored and her alarm fell on deaf ears for too many years.
Historic Legislation – Illinois MRSA Screening & Reporting Act
Frustrated by the lack of interest and action about MRSA by health officials, in 2004 and 2005, she met with state legislators to inform them about the MRSA crisis. Her district state senator Christine Radogno understood action needed to be taken and they decided to introduce mandated MRSA screening (Universal) and reporting. SB2771 was introduced in Jan. 2006, the first such legislation in the U.S. It did not move in the senate because of great controversy and Jeanine spent the year meeting with state health officials and other organizations. An agreement could not be met.
In 2007, Jeanine with Illinois state sen. Christine Radogno and state rep. Patti Bellock as lead sponsors introduced the MRSA Screening & Reporting Act ( screening of all ICU and at-risk patients – SB233 / HB378) in the IL House and Senate. The other chief sponsors were: sen. John Cullerton, sen. Susan Garrett and rep. Julie Hamos. The Chicago Tribune covered the controversial and historic legislation extensively. The bill passed unanimously on the final vote in the House on May 25, 2007, the first in the U.S. It was supported by:
Illinois Hospital Association
Illinois State Medical Society
Illinois Nurses Association
Governor Blagojevich signed it into to law on August 20, 2007 and it went into effect immediately, making Illinois the first state to enact mandated legislation. Several other states have passed similar legislation and other states have pending legislation. The movement had started.
Jeanine works with U.S. Congress members, state law makers, state and federal health officials and hospitals to raise awareness and educate them on MRSA. She also now works with the FDA as a consultant on the Anti-Infective Advisory Board.