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Dignity Health Central Coast Hospitals Recognize September as National Sepsis Awareness Month

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The month brings attention to this serious condition, which takes a life every two minutes

CENTRAL COAST – September 4, 2019 –  Dignity Health Central Coast hospitals, which include Arroyo Grande Community Hospital (AGCH), French Hospital Medical Center (FHMC), and Marian Regional Medical Center (MRMC), recognize the significance of September as Sepsis Awareness Month. Only 55% of the U.S. adult population is aware of the dangers of Sepsis, which is the body’s life-threatening response to an infection.  

More than 1.6 million people are diagnosed with sepsis in America each year – one every 20 seconds. The risk for developing sepsis is dependent on a variety of factors, including immune system health and secondary conditions. However, if sepsis is detected and treated at an early stage, a full recovery may be possible.

It is important to know the symptoms of sepsis, so individuals can seek medical attention. Some common infections that can lead to sepsis are urinary tract infections (UTIs), strep throat, influenza, and MRSA. If you’ve had an infection or suspect an infection, symptoms of sepsis include higher or lower than normal body temperature, mental decline (confusion, lethargy), and severe pain or discomfort.

“During National Sepsis Awareness Month and beyond, Dignity Health Central Coast encourages community members to take the time to learn and understand the signs of sepsis, says Gene Keller, MD, Vice President Quality for the Central Coast Division.  “If left untreated, sepsis can become a medical emergency, which is why we are motivated to share such critical information.”

Fern Bickford has pioneered the Sepsis Quality Coordinator role for Dignity Health following the growing trend in hospitals to create roles dedicated to sepsis management. Sepsis Quality Coordinators organize with multi-disciplinary teams of physicians, nursing leadership, educators, clinical informatics, and staff to develop care and recovery plans, train employees, and promote awareness.    

“By spreading awareness about sepsis, we are proactively allowing patients to advocate for their own health and be aware of the signs and symptoms,” says Fern Bickford, Sepsis Quality Coordinator for French Hospital Medical Center. “We are making it our priority to educate the community, hospital staff, and patients about how best to reduce sepsis, and this month of awareness helps us to do so.”


Dignity Health Central Coast
Dignity Health Central Coast is comprised of five hospitals, all recognized for their quality of care, safety and service, primary care offices, premier ambulatory surgery centers, technologically advanced imaging centers, outpatient services and comprehensive home health services. For more information, visit:


Publish date: 

Wednesday, September 04, 2019