Wilson Medical Center is Committed to Knocking Out Pneumonia

October 12, 2017

Terri Blanton

Chances are you or someone you know has been diagnosed with pneumonia. Pneumonia and influenza caused 2,115 deaths in North Carolina in 2015, ranking North Carolina 49th (number one being the best) in the nation for loss of life due to pneumonia deaths.

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs and there are many different types. The most common type of bacterial pneumonia is called pneumococcal pneumonia. This type of pneumonia is a potentially serious lung disease that, in severe cases, can be life threatening. Symptoms may include high fever, fatigue, shaking chills, excessive sweating, a cough with phlegm that persists or gets worse and chest pain with difficulty breathing. These symptoms can develop very rapidly. Symptoms such as cough and fatigue can last for weeks or longer, and can even cause hospitalization.

Did you know that if you are 50 or older, your risk of being hospitalized after getting pneumococcal pneumonia is eight times greater than younger adults between the ages of 18 and 49?

Are you at risk?

In addition to age, the following are risk factors you should know:

  • Chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, COPD or a weakened immune system can make the body more susceptible to serious illnesses like pneumococcal pneumonia.
  • Lifestyle factors such as smoking can put you at greater risk for pneumonia by damaging fragile lung tissue thus making the lungs more vulnerable to infection.

Steps to Prevention

  1. Get a flu shot every year to help prevent seasonal influenza. The flu is a common cause of pneumonia, so preventing the flu is a good way to reduce your risk of pneumonia.
  2. Good health habits can fight pneumonia.
    Washing your hands, following a healthy diet, getting adequate rest, exercising regularly and not smoking are all habits that can help keep you from getting sick from bacteria, viruses and other causes of respiratory illnesses. Good health habits also promote fast recovery when you do get sick.
  3. Get a pneumococcal vaccine if you are 65 and over or if your doctor recommends if you have certain chronic health conditions discussed above.  
  4. In 2016, an estimated 66.9 percent of adults age 65 and over did not receive a pneumococcal vaccination. Don’t be part of that 66.9 percent. Talk to your doctor to learn if a pneumococcal vaccination is right for you.

Wilson Medical Center is proud to announce its participation in the North Carolina Hospital Association’s (NCHA) Pneumonia Knockout Campaign.

In March 2017, the NCHA’s Board of Trustees approved a two-year Quality Goal to reduce pneumonia (PNE) mortality and readmission rates to put North Carolina at or below the national average. Specifically, the goal is to reduce PNE state mortality rate by 7.5 percent to the national average of 16.3 percent over two years; and reduce PNE state readmissions by 5.4 percent over two years to target the top 25 percent quartile of the nation.

Wilson Medical Center is committed to knocking out pneumonia through education and encouragement to get the recommended vaccines. Our hospital team consist of staff in Respiratory Therapy, Speech and Occupational Therapy, Quality and Documentation Review, Pharmacy, Case Management, Skilled Nursing Home and In-Patient Nursing. Let us help keep you from becoming a 2017 statistic. If you would like for one of us to speak to your group or organization, or if you’d like more information, please contact Marketing at 252.399.8400.

Get a flu vaccine, and talk to your doctor about whether you also need a pneumonia vaccine. If you need a doctor, call our Physician Referral Line at 800.424.DOCS (3627) to get connected with one today.

Terri Blanton, RN, is the Director of Inpatient Clinical Services at Wilson Medical Center.