Lifepoint, ARH decrease hospital-acquired ailments

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 31, 2014

Andalusia Regional Hospital and its parent company, Lifepoint Hospitals, have made significant progress in reducing hospital-acquired conditions through its participation in a national study to address the issue.

ARH interim CEO Steve Selzer said Friday that LifePoint was among 26 organizations selected by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to participated in a hospital engagement network to address this national problem.

Typically, Selzer said, hospital acquired conditions would be “something the patient did not have when they came in – either from a fall, or developing pneumonia or other infection.

“We’ve seen really significant reductions in the numbers,” Selzer said.

The CMS set a goal for participating institutions to achieve a 40 percent reduction by the end of 2014. At the present, national statistics show an overall 9 percent decrease in hospital acquired conditional during 2011 and 2012.

But Lifepoint has already achieved a 38 percent reduction, Selzer said, adding that the company is on track to make the 40 percent benchmark by the year’s end.

The project empowered employees and engaged patients to participate in their care.

“Basically, we’ve told them it’s OK to speak out if they see something they think is not right for a particular patient,” Paula Caraway said.

Patients also are encourage to speak up.

“ Who knows their health better than them,” Caraway said. “We rely on the patient and the family to tell us, ‘This is how I usually do this.’ We can educate them if there’s a better way.”

Melissa Davis, chief nursing officer, said nurses are encouraged to round at least once each hour, and to ask specifically if a patient needs to get up.

Another initiative put in electronic monitoring of hand washing. Each room has a handwashing center with equipment that electronically reads personnel badges.

“They are to wash their hands going in and coming out, each and every time,” Selzer said. “And they are to do it so that patient can see you do it.”

The initiative was tested in one area of the hospital, and was so successful, it has been expanded throughout the patient are areas.

While Lifepoint has seen significant success, ARH has, too, Selzer said, although he wouldn’t say just how much.

“From this year compared to last year, there has been a very impressive reduction,” he said. “This came about by changing processes and being mindful of things. That is not to say we weren’t before. But now, nationwide attention is being drawn to it, and you are seeing those numbers drop.”

Selzer says he is really impressed with the local staff.

“The community is very lucky to have the caliber of hospital they have here,” he said. “This is cutting edge kind of stuff.”