Home Lifestyle Team effort helps FirstHealth focus on antimicrobial stewardship

Team effort helps FirstHealth focus on antimicrobial stewardship

Heather Gibson, PharmD, antimicrobial stewardship pharmacist at Moore Regional Hospital

PINEHURST — Antibiotics save lives, but their overuse and misuse can put patients at unnecessary risk for preventable allergic reactions and drug-resistant infections. 

FirstHealth of the Carolinas remains committed to the safe use of antibiotics through its system-wide antimicrobial stewardship program. 

Beginning Monday, Nov. 18, FirstHealth will take part in U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week, an annual observance that puts a special focus on the importance of appropriate antibiotic use to combat the threat of antibiotic resistance. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that every hospital have an antibiotic use program that includes seven core elements:  leadership commitment, accountability, drug expertise, at least one prescribing improvement action, tracking of prescribing and resistance patterns, regular reports to physicians, and education about antibiotic resistance and ways to improve prescribing patterns.

Heather Gibson, PharmD, the antimicrobial stewardship pharmacist at Moore Regional Hospital, says FirstHealth’s efforts are patient-focused to ensure that each patient gets the right treatment at the right time. 

“Overuse of antibiotics will lead to antibiotic resistance and if that happens, the next time a patient comes into the hospital, our current antibiotics may not work on the bacteria. Overuse can occur not only when we use antibiotics for viral illnesses, but also when we use a broad-spectrum antibiotic to treat an infection that could be treated with a narrower one,” Gibson said. 

Along with the recognition of Antibiotic Awareness Week, FirstHealth continues to be a leader in North Carolina’s health care field regarding antimicrobial stewardship.


The program has received recognition as an advanced partner in the North Carolina STAR (Stewardship of Antimicrobial Resources) Partners Initiative, which is run by the N.C. Department of Health.

Several employees have also worked to publish articles and posters to deliver key messages about the importance of antimicrobial stewardship. 

Jayne Lee, R.N., Moore Regional’s director of infection control and patient safety recently received a fellowship from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, and Gibson was recently board certified in infectious diseases pharmacy. 

“Stewardship is a team effort, but FirstHealth differentiates our program from others by including both inpatient and outpatient facilities in our stewardship efforts,” Gibson says. “This collaboration across the continuum of care at all FirstHealth entities gives us the opportunity to increase patient safety and educate patients at every possible point. FirstHealth prides itself on making antimicrobial stewardship a priority and we remain committed to our mission To Care for People.”

During U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week and throughout the year, CDC works to educate the public about when antibiotics are needed, when they are not, how to take antibiotics appropriately, and potential side effects of antibiotics.

CDC encourages patients and families to:

  • Get the facts about antibiotics. Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such as those that cause colds, flu, bronchitis, or runny noses, even if the mucus is thick, yellow or green. When antibiotics aren’t needed, they won’t help you, and the side effects could still hurt you.
  • Ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist about the best way to feel better.
  • While your body fights off a virus, pain relievers, fever reducers, saline nasal spray or drops, warm compresses, liquids and rest can help you feel better.
  • If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about your antibiotics.
  • Talk with your doctor if you develop any side effects, especially severe diarrhea, since that could be a Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile or C. diff) infection, which needs to be treated.
  • Do your best to stay healthy and keep others healthy by cleaning hands, covering coughs, staying home when sick and getting recommended vaccines, such as the flu vaccine.