April 18, 2008 - Actress Alicia Cole, a Screen Actors Guild member for 14 years, is known for the many portrayals of doctors and nurses, including roles on “General Hospital” and “Young and the Restless,” but a year ago Cole switched from playing a doctor to becoming a real-life patient after contracting Necrotizing Fasciitis (NF), caused by a flesh-eating bacteria.
This lead to six surgeries and a struggle to survive. This also lead Cole to fight to bring awareness to the rise in preventable hospital acquired infections and particularly MRSA cases.
Cole's plight began on Aug. 15, 2006 upon entering the same top-rated San Fernando Valley hospital that treated star John Ritter. Following a minor procedure, a quarter-sized pustule developed that would lead to the traumatizing diagnosis of Necrotizing Fasciitis. The bacterial infection attacks the soft tissue and fascia. In order to contract the bacteria, it needs to be introduced into the body. NF often occurs through complications from surgery or infections from hospitals.
“I vowed, if I am able to survive this, I will dedicate myself to insuring that no other family has to endure the trauma and burdens inflicted by a preventable hospital infection,” Cole said.
She now advocates nationally for safer healthcare and public reporting of hospital infection and death rates. Cole was the first member of the public to address Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Committee on Hospital Associated Infections created by Senate Bill 739.
Cole recently founded the Alliance for Safety Awareness for Patients (ASAP) to educate and protect patients. ASAP works with established advocacy groups, healthcare providers and legislators to strive to reduce the spread of preventable hospital-acquired infections by empowering the public to make informed decisions about healthcare issues.
For more information: www.aliciacole.com