The Maryland Statewide Prevention and Reduction Collaborative (SPARC) is a statewide quality improvement project engaging public health and academia to address the evolving needs of Maryland hospitals related to infection prevention and antibiotic stewardship. The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) works closely with the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University to coordinate SPARC while leveraging the expertise of NORC at the University of Chicago as its implementation contractor.

The Success of the SPARC Model

SPARC has established a peer-to-peer learning model that has resulted in knowledge sharing and meaningful improvements among acute care hospitals in Maryland. SPARC’s initiative on the prevention and reduction of Clostridioides difficile infections (CDI) contributed to a reduction in CDI of 45% among 12 participating hospitals and a reduction in the Maryland Standardized Infection Ratio from 0.92 to 0.61.

Since 2020, SPARC has supported acute care facilities in addressing COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, providing expert-led forums, panel discussions, and question-and-answer town halls. An assessment of the COVID-19-focused activities found that SPARC was an important source of information for hospitals managing dynamic COVID-19 guidance and policies.

Addressing the Evolving Needs of Maryland Hospitals

SPARC is currently bolstering antibiotic stewardship, continuing its critical work supporting hospitals in their infection prevention practices, and confronting emerging infectious diseases. SPARC activities include—