2012-01-05 / Healthy Living

Taking one last look back at our 2011 resolutions


For this first Straight Talk of 2012, I think it’s appropriate to look back one more time at the four New Year’s resolutions I posed in the first Straight Talk of 2011. Let’s see how we did.

¦ Resolution #1: Create a memorable patient experience – Paul Clarke, our patient experience coordinator, is proud to report that patient satisfaction numbers in the past year were outstanding, with an upward trend in the five primary patient experience surveys: rate the hospital, hospital inpatient overall, emergency department overall, inpatient rehabilitation overall and outpatient services overall.

Pacing our improvement was the ER, where patient satisfaction increased dramatically over the past three years, from 81.9 percent to 86.7 percent. This no doubt stems from our shorter “door-to-doctor” time, which measures how quickly a patient sees a physician. In the peak winter months, we average about 35 minutes; during the summer nadir, this drops to 20 minutes.

While we still have work to do in further improving the patient experience, our progress this year was heartening.

¦ Resolution #2 Improving community health. For the second year in a row, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recognized Collier as the healthiest of the 67 counties in Florida. We also hold the record of the longest life expectancy for a woman and second longest for a man.

In the year just ended, NCH offered many more initiatives to lower morbidity (complications) and mortality and, as proof of our progress, had the most posters

(18) at the 2011 Institute for Healthcare Improvement conference. These posters demonstrated our best practices for almost 6,000 leaders from around the world.

NCH was also the catalyst for the group of more than 30 agencies that became the Safe and Healthy Children’s Coalition of Collier County, focused on preventing the two most common causes of death in pre-school children: drowning and cosleeping.

We led the community in terms of smoking cessation by not hiring smokers. Finally, along with Drug Free Collier and Hazelden, NCH continues to help stamp out “pill mills” in our community.

¦ Resolution #3 Achieve a higher value for our patients. Quality health care, of course, must be the hallmark of NCH. Here, too, our objective measures of quality improved year-over-year. Specific examples include our cardiac surgeons being recognized by the Society for Thoracic Surgery as being a part of a hospital that is among the top 10 percent of hospitals in the nation.

Thanks largely to the teamwork of our nurses and support staff, we also scored well in such areas as prevention of central line infections, pressure sores and falls, and we improved on a host of other key metrics.

Even as we lowered our costs — the other side of the value proposition — we are concerned about decreased reimbursement going forward. This is a topic for another day. But most important, NCH’s service quality — and, therefore, value to our patients — continues to improve.

¦ Resolution #4: Build our own self-image – New research suggests that our rallying cry, “This is My Hospital,” is recognized by three-quarters of folks randomly surveyed in our area. Best of all, two IHI attendees — 3N Nurse Manager Kristin Miller and 2N Nurse Manager Marcia Swasey — agreed that NCH, once “a small community hospital,” is now admired by health-care experts around the country. “I realize how far we’ve come,” says Ms. Swasey.

All in all, 2011 was quite a successful year for NCH, not only in delivering on our resolutions but also in providing our community with superior health care. ¦

— Dr. Allen Weiss is the president and CEO of NCH Healthcare Systems.

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