Awards recognize all the behind-the-scenes work at Elliot

By SUSANNA FIER
Special to Union Leader Health

September 18. 2017 8:13PM

Dr. Gerard J. Hevern of Suncook has been named the national 2018 Family Physician of the Year by the American Academy of Family Physicians. Hevern is a member of the Elliot Physician Network(COURTESY)


You may have read or seen something about Elliot Health System earning a particular award or rating for some aspect of its work. This year, in fact, has been one for the books with a number of honors, both group and individual.

The recognition is appreciated, but it is what goes on behind the scenes that means the most to the workforce here. It is that work that is reflected in these awards.

At our morning system-wide huddle, we hear everything from door-to-doctor times, numbers of patients with “continuous monitoring” for their safety, numbers of operating room cases and beds needed versus discharges anticipated; and we always ask at the end of the huddle, “Are there any celebrations?”

We applaud “wins” and awards along the way and take a moment to thank one another for the extraordinary work being done to care for the greater Manchester community. We also take the opportunity in this article to say “thank you” to everyone we serve, and for all of those votes of confidence that we value greatly.

The Leapfrog Group is a nonprofit organization committed to driving quality, safety and transparency in the U.S. health care system. It assigns letter grades to hospitals nationwide, on a twice-yearly basis. Elliot Hospital was one of 823 hospitals across the country to receive an “A” for its commitment to reducing errors, infections, and accidents that can harm patients.

In particular specialties, the Elliot is also being recognized. It received the gold-level status of the National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification Program for its commitment to best practices and education on infant safe sleep. The Elliot Hospital is the first hospital in New Hampshire to receive this distinction. The program was created by Cribs for Kids, a Pittsburgh-based organization dedicated to preventing infant sleep-related deaths due to accidental suffocation.

Awards are not a stated goal anywhere within our system, but being the first choice to give and receive healthcare is the ultimate objective.

Our success starts with people. The people who care for our community locally have an innate desire for camaraderie among them, and to care for patients and families with sincere compassion.

How do we know? We see clinical teams embrace programs such as TeamSTEPPS. This is a “time out” procedure employed before and after every clinical case wherein the doctors, nurses, techs and staff have an equal opportunity to speak and ensure everyone agrees on what is about to be done to care for a patient, and after, to learn from each other those things that could be improved and/or those things that should be celebrated. It may sound tedious, but it is a clinical excellence model, and it fosters team growth and safe care for patients.

Individual recognition has come to several of the Elliot team this year. Dr. Jwalant Vadalia has been named the 2017 Jeanne Jackson-Siegal Clinician of the Year by the American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry (AAGP). The honor recognizes an AAGP member who has demonstrated a profound commitment to the field of clinical Geriatric Psychiatry by providing, promoting, and/or ensuring access to quality mental health care for older adults.

Ashley Brandes, RN, BSN, Elliot Health System, is the 2017 recipient of the Clint M. Jones New Hampshire Nursing Award. This is the second year in a row that a nurse from Elliot Health System has received this award. The award was created in 2006 by the Foundation for Healthy Communities to honor the memory of the former director of the Foundation’s New Hampshire Nursing Workforce Partnership. The award recognizes a registered nurse practicing in New Hampshire for at least one year but not more than six years, who exemplifies quality, compassionate nursing care and demonstrates a commitment to a career in nursing.

Dr. Lawrence Hoepp received the New Hampshire Hospital Association’s Medical Staff Award. This award is a high honor bestowed upon a medical staff member from an NHHA institution whose professional performance has strengthened the cooperation between the institution and the medical staff, and who brings credit to the institution and the community.

Just last week, the American Academy of Family Physicians awarded its highest honor to Gerard J. Hevern, MD, FAAFP, of Suncook. Hevern was named the AAFP’s national 2018 Family Physician of the Year, which honors one outstanding American family physician who provides patients with compassionate, comprehensive care, and serves as a role model in their community and to other health professionals. Dr. Hevern is a member of the Elliot Physician Network.

Besides the approach and the awards, much of what happens is also done with a purposeful scientific approach. We know our baseline and we measure for improvement, and thus success. A perfect example is in the emergency department. We know that patients who arrive in our emergency department want to be seen as quickly as possible. The Elliot emergency department is, however, a trauma center and with that comes ambulances, often and steadily.

Elliot is also at the center of the mental health crisis, with extraordinary demands for patients who are a threat to themselves and others. The patients who arrive with critical and often life-threatening injuries or illness must be treated immediately and this, unavoidably, does impact wait times.

Given this dilemma, and our desire to treat everyone respectfully and as quickly as possible, the Elliot Continuous Improvement team worked with the emergency department doctors and staff to design a better system. From their work came the Rapid Triage and Treatment program (RTT).

RTT is a level of care within the emergency department that has dedicated clinical staff from the emergency department team whose sole focus in on caring for patients who require treatment but are not as acute as those who enter through the ambulance bay. This greatly reduces wait time for this population of patients, and it works!

Susanna Fier is vice president of public affairs and marketing for Elliot Health System.


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