Alicia Cole of Los Angeles, California
In August of 2006, I contracted a post-surgical flesh-eating infection. What followed was a barrage of painful tests and powerful drugs. My two-day hospital stay turned into two months, six more surgeries, and three years of painful rehabilitation. The worst part was that I almost lost my leg. Before I went in to have two fibroids removed, my only experience with the healthcare system was a yearly mammogram and pap-smear. It has taken three years for my wound to completely close. The skin and scar tissue is so delicate that normal daily activities would cause it to tear, leaving me unable to work. I am still treating with doctors and suffering the lasting effects three years after being infected. Federal inspectors subsequently found unsterile conditions in my hospital’s operating area. They also found that my hospital failed to follow its own infection control procedures. I was devastated and enraged by my experience.
Prior to becoming disabled by the infection, I was a working actress and a 15 year veteran of the Screen Actors Guild. I vowed that if my life was spared, I would dedicate myself to insuring that no other family would have to endure the trauma and burdens created by a preventable hospital Infection. I joined the fight against hospital infections and helped persuade the California legislature to pass a law requiring public reporting of hospital acquired infection rates. If I can help save even one life it will be worth it.