Members of Adventist Health/Rideout’s stroke program celebrated recently for being recognized by the American Heart Association for meeting quality measures in treating stroke patients.
The team was awarded top honors for their commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatments over a designated period of time, in this case for at least two consecutive calendar years. The local hospital serves a patient population that suffers a high incidence of cerebrovascular disease, where stroke morbidity and mortality rates are historically higher than the state average.
Stroke program coordinator Caezar Jara Jr. said the achievement was possible through a multidisciplinary team approach and support from senior leadership.
“This award from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association recognizes Adventist Health and Rideout’s commitment and success in implementing a high standard of stroke care by ensuring stroke patients receive treatment that meets nationally accepted, evidence-based standards and recommendations,” Jara said.
Aside from the program being recognized for their performance, a number of other areas of the local hospital have seen significant improvements over the last year since Adventist Health and Rideout Health merged in early 2018.
“Right now, we are hardwiring all of our approaches, whether it’s with how we handle strokes, our patient experience or our patient safety initiatives,” said Adventist Health/Rideout President Richard Rawson. “As we hardwire these things, our focus will begin to shift to patient experience. We really want to create a distinctive experience when someone comes to our hospital that’s consistent with our mission and representative of who we are.”
When Rawson stepped into the position last April, he set an ambitious goal. He wanted the hospital to move into the top 10 percent nationwide in four different areas: quality, patient experience, employee engagement and patient safety.
“We put a lot of focus on improving quality and patient safety. That’s created very different results from where we were a year ago,” he said. “We are hitting the top 10 percent performance nationally on patient safety. Our goal was to do so in five years, so we are ahead of the game there.”
When it comes to quality, Rawson said the hospital is seeing improvement trends across almost every indicator they have, including the number of re-admissions and mortality scores.
Rawson credits the employees of the local hospital for coming together and holding each other accountable in order to achieve the goal. Having employees who are engaged in their work is a culture he wanted to build and he feels they are making substantive progress toward that goal.
“Our next employee survey is in September and we’ll see how we’ve been doing,” Rawson said. “That’s a journey that continues to improve. I believe that if our entire workforce wasn’t fully engaged and focused on patient care, we wouldn’t have seen the results we have.”
In terms of patient experience, the hospital is coming off one of its best months on record, he said, though he’d like to see that trend continue over several months. He believes the improvements that have been made could be a contributing factor as to why the hospital’s volume has increased between 10-20 percent over the last year.
“Our emergency department is seeing record volumes as well. We believe that we are beginning to see a surge in community support and trust in our organization to provide care, so we are continuing to make that our focus,” he said.
Currently, the hospital is transitioning to Adventist Health’s electronic health records system, which is called Cerner. Though they’ve been training employees on the new system, it’s expected to go live on Aug. 18. He said the new system will allow for better communication between departments.
Then in October, the hospital’s human resources computer system will transition, marking the last major transition required to fully integrate with Adventist, Rawson said.
Aside from improving different operational aspects of the organization, Rawson said, the focus over the next 12 months will be on ways to expand the hospital’s campus and services.
“We are in the middle of campus master planning, which we kicked off a few weeks ago. That should give us a roadmap at how we look to expand,” he said. “We want to continue to grow our cancer services and cardiovascular services. We are trying to expand while also continuing to improve in those other areas as well.”