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LSU Hospital Achieves Joint Commission Accreditation
SHREVEPORT — LSU Hospital in Shreveport recently earned the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval.

The accreditation indicates compliance with the Joint Commission’s national standards for health care quality and safety, Joe Miciotto, hospital administrator, said in a press release. The accreditation is for a period of three years, the maximum possible.

“We sought accreditation for our organization because we want to demonstrate our commitment to patients’ safety and quality care,” Dr. Robert Barish, chancellor of the LSU Health Sciences Center at Shreveport, said in a press release. “We view obtaining Joint Commission accreditation as reflecting our continued commitment to the highest standards of care.”

In May, the Joint Commission conducted an intensive unannounced, on-site evaluation of LSU Hospital.

The Joint Commission, an independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1951, seeks to continuously improve the safety and quality of care provided to the public. It is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care.

More than 8,000 hospitals are among the 15,000 health care organizations and programs evaluated and accredited by the Joint Commission in the United States.

Oil disaster causing mental illness among coastal residents
NEW ORLEANS  — The oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, induced by the explosion of the BP-owned Deepwater Horizon rig, has inflicted widespread psychological distress, according to a recent survey by Ochsner Health system, a nonprofit academic health care delivery system. The survey of the four-state area (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida) found that three in 10 people surveyed suffer from “probable serious” or “probable mild-moderate” mental illness, based on the K6 psychological distress scale. The study found that younger respondents and the most financially vulnerable are at the greatest risk for mental health impacts. The lowest-income category ($25,000 annually) has the largest percentage of respondents classified as having “probable serious” mental illness. Gulf Coast residents reported the most stress from financial problems and work issues, though relationship difficulties, substance abuse and missed appointments with mental health professionals added further damage. The survey, which used a quantitative methodology with data gathered via a telephone survey, reflects the answers of 406 respondents, all of whom were at least 21 years old. The percentage of Louisiana respondents afflicted with serious mental illness is double what it was among South Louisiana residents in July 2007, two years after hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the state.

Microbiology Researcher Wins Grant from National Institute of Health
SHREVEPORT — An assistant professor at LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, Stephanie Karst, Ph.D., has received a four-year research grant of more than $1.2 million from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Karst is researching norovirus, a major human pathogen that causes extreme gastrointestinal infections with cramps and diarrhea. Norovirus is rarely serious or life-threatening in the United States, but it has the capability to spread rapidly, and so far, it is difficult to prevent from spreading.

Dehydration from the illness can lead to hospitalizations in the elderly, the young or those with weakened immune systems. Karst’s project, Lack of Protective Immunity to Murine Norovirus Infection, will use an animal model developed by Karst in order to investigate basic aspects of the infection and immunity; she seeks to discover why many people infected with this pathogen fail to develop immunity. Karst is also conducting research with other funding that has come from the Louisiana Board of Regents to support other aspects of her study into the interaction of the immune system and the interaction with norovirus.

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