ER Wait Time: 16 minutes | If you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

Dr. Kayla M. Natali, a clinical pharmacist for infectious diseases and antimicrobial stewardship, and Dr. Jihad Slim, the director of infectious diseases at Saint Michael’s, with the Antimicrobial Stewardship Recognition Award.

Saint Michael’s Medical Center has been recognized by the New Jersey Department of Health for its efforts to reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics, advance patient safety and improve outcomes.

Saint Michael’s received the New Jersey Antimicrobial Stewardship Recognition Silver Award earlier this month for its application of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Core Elements of Antibiotic Stewardship.

The Core Elements were developed in 2014 to help hospitals move away from overprescribing antibiotics. While antibiotics are effective at reducing infections, about 30% of all antibiotics prescribed in hospitals in the United States are either unnecessary or suboptimal, according to the CDC.

The overprescribing of antibiotics has led to an antibiotic resistance, a public health concern in which antibiotics are no longer effective. In addition, patients who receive antibiotics unnecessarily are put at risk with no benefits.

“At Saint Michael’s, we’ve taken the CDC’s Core Elements of Antibiotic Stewardship seriously and have worked diligently to employ best practices to reduce the use of antibiotics whenever medically appropriate,” said Dr. Kayla M. Natali, a clinical pharmacist for infectious diseases and antimicrobial stewardship. “Our commitment to responsible stewardship of antibiotics ultimately means better care and better outcomes for our patients.”

Saint Michael’s has been on the forefront of antibiotic stewardship since 2011, when it formed one of the first integrated teams consisting of a pharmacist, infection control, laboratory personnel, administrators and the Department of Infectious Disease in order to develop policies and pathways to improve patients’ safety and appropriate, cost-effective antibiotic use.

In 2012, the antibiotic stewardship program was the flagship project of the hospital’s infectious disease fellowship, said Dr. Jihad Slim, the director of infectious diseases at Saint Michael’s.

“We trained many infectious disease doctors to continue the spread of such antimicrobial stewardship programs when they settle in their practice,” Dr. Slim said.

According to the CDC, hospitals like Saint Michael’s that voluntarily participate in antimicrobial stewardship programs can increase infection cure rates while reducing treatment failures, certain infections, adverse effects on patients and antibiotic resistance along with reducing hospital costs and lengths of stay.

“We are proud to be recognized by the state Health Department for doing our part to combat the growing health threat of antibiotic resistance,” said Saint Michael’s CEO Robert Iannaccone. “Receiving this recognition is further evidence of our ongoing commitment to deliver safe and effective treatment for our patients.”

For the third period in a row, Saint Michael’s has been awarded an A for patient safety from the Leapfrog Group. The 385-bed hospital earned the Patient Safety Excellence Award™ from Healthgrades and was named a Five-Star Hospital by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.