In April 2006, at 15 years of age, Nile Calvin Moss entered the top children’s hospital in Orange Country California as an outpatient for an annual series of tests. He was born with hydrocephalus, a condition in which there is excessive accumulation of fluid in the brain, so these visits were routine for Nile and his family.
After he returned home, Nile began to have flu-like symptoms, and within 48 hours his life came to an end. His parents, Ty and Carole Moss, later learned that the cause was Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). They were unaware of and unprepared for the dangers of MRSA, and they vowed to never let other families experience this extreme loss.
“From the day we were told Nile died, we were left heartbroken. I typed ‘MRSA’ into Google and the first thing that came up was the rapid testing available in Europe and Canada that would have saved his life,” Carole said. “Even after all of the time we had spent in the hospital with Nile, we had never known about basic infection awareness. This made us realize that we need to make the public aware.”
In June 2007, Ty and Carole established Nile’s Project, a coalition of family friends, entertainers, musicians, artists and other alliances, including the Alliance for Safety Awareness for Patients, the Patient Safety Movement and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation.
Today, a decade after Nile’s passing, the project is a united front to end unnecessary deaths from health care-associated infections (HAIs), including MRSA, Clostridium difficile, central line-associated bloodstream infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, Vancomycin-resistant enterococci and more.
"Our goal is to help people understand that they can help prevent unnecessary harm by asking the right questions and taking charge of their own health.”
“Starting out, the way that made sense for us to reach people was through music. Nile loved music: he was becoming a piano player,” Ty said. “We focused on the Long Beach School District and held concerts where we would also educate the audience on the dangers of bacterial infections in our community by having medical students disseminate information like our flyers.”
Ty and Carole still work with local schools and participate in fairs, trade shows and speaking engagements on behalf of the Nile’s Project. They have garnered not only local but also national attention: Carole will be speaking on Capitol Hill on March 3 on the importance of rapid testing for bacterial infections like MRSA.
“Other countries have eradicated MRSA from their hospitals and communities, so the U.S. is greatly behind,” Carole said. “If hospitals were required to perform rapid testing or check for infections at the door, Nile and countless others would be alive. The time for change is now. No more lives should be lost due to lack of understanding.”
“With rapid testing, if it’s a bacteria, you go to the physician or emergency room right away, or you get the proper treatment or cure right away.” Ty said. “The elderly, young people involved in sports, even the general masses, can be exposed to these infections every day. Our goal is to help people understand that they can help prevent unnecessary harm by asking the right questions and taking charge of their own health.”
Another key element to this change, beyond rapid testing, is environmental cleanings for the prevention of HAIs. The governor of California recently appointed Carole as the Chair of Deep Environmental Cleaning for the state’s Hospital-Acquired Infection Advisory Committee. As the patient voice for the committee, Carole will focus efforts on building awareness of proven disinfection methods like ultraviolet light and scope sterilization.
“Trained people equipped with the correct supplies are essential to properly clean health care facilities,” Carole said. “This is a big problem, and standards must be upheld to keep people safe. These infections are 100 percent preventable if the proper protocol is in place and employees follow those procedures.
“What we want people to take away is that every person has a right to his or her health, and it’s important to know what to expect when going into a care environment. We will keep working to end suffering until there are no more preventable deaths from HAIs.”