Pictured left to right: Dr. Kimberly Megow, SGMC Chief Medical Officer, Gregory Powell, member Hospital Authority of Valdosta and Lowndes County, Randy Sauls, SGMC Chief Executive Officer, Candice Saunders, GHA Chair, Meghan Schunhoff, Media Specialist, Scarlett Rivera, Director of Infection Prevention, Dominique Corbine, Emergency Department Nurse Educator, Jeremy Norman, Assistant Chief, EMS and Earl Rogers, GHA President and CEO At its annual Summer Meeting last week, the Georgia Hospital Association (GHA) presented its prestigious Community Leadership Award to South Georgia Medical Center (SGMC) in Valdosta for its campaign to raise awareness about sepsis in the community. CEO Randy Sauls and members of the Sepsis Awareness Team were there to accept the award on behalf of the hospital.Research shows that outcomes and survival rates for patients diagnosed with sepsis are greatly improved with early recognition and treatment. With this in mind, South Georgia Medical Center set a goal to reduce mortality rates from sepsis by 20 percent. The hospital accepted an opportunity to participate in a statewide initiative to combat sepsis, which would enable hospital staff and the community to recognize the signs and symptoms of sepsis. Staff would implement evidence-based practices to ensure rapid and proper care of sepsis patients. The community would be educated on sepsis and on the importance of quickly seeking treatment.First, staff implemented evidence-based sepsis practices and new protocols. Additionally, a public awareness campaign, titled “Know Sepsis,” was established. It was promoted to employees, patients and visitors with internal communications, including a message from the CEO that was published in the weekly corporate newsletter. Educational tools were placed on SGMC’s intranet and specially designed posters were displayed in lobbies, elevators and dining areas. Hospital staff produced an educational video available for public viewing on the SGMC website and YouTube. To further ensure the community received proper education, SGMC staff sent press releases about the campaign to local media. This resulted in a cover feature and spread in a monthly publication distributed to 12,000 readers across South Georgia and North Florida. Newspapers in surrounding counties helped spread the message by publishing articles about sepsis and what the hospital was doing to educate the community. Local television and radio stations interviewed key hospital staff about SGMC’s proactive role in sepsis treatment. The campaign to educate hospital staff and the community, as well as the implementation of best practices, resulted in a 30 percent reduction in mortality rates from sepsis, exceeding the organization’s goal of 20 percent. “South Georgia Medical Center has done a fantastic job in bringing awareness to a potentially life-threatening disease,” said GHA President Earl V. Rogers. “Thanks to the hospital’s efforts, community residents are now better educated on what sepsis is and how to recognize the symptoms. South Georgia Medical Center is a very deserving recipient of this award.”About GHAEstablished in 1929, GHA is the state’s largest trade organization of hospitals and health systems providing education, research and risk management services to its more than 170 hospital and health system members. Additionally, it represents and advocates health policy issues benefiting Georgia’s citizens before the state legislature and U.S. Congress as well as before regulatory bodies.