Better Care, Better Nurses

March 6-12, 2003
Better Care, Better Nurses
By Kristen Fox / SUN contributing writers
St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center, already one of the top hospitals in the nation, is doing more to meet the needs of its patients. Earlier this month, St. Joseph’s made renovations to its Emergency Department (ED) to better address the increasing number of patients it serves on a daily basis. The centerpiece of the project includes the addition of seven rooms in the triage area, bringing the total number of rooms in the ED to 14.

Patient visits to St. Joseph’s ED have increased dramatically over the past several years, with the hospital seeing over 50,000 patients in 2002 alone. Administrators hope the greater number of rooms, along with the addition of simultaneous staffing by three triage nurses, will enhance patient flow through the busy ER.

“The renovations will reduce the time that patients have to wait in order to be treated,” said Neal Greacon, RN, ED manager. “This will bring increased patient satisfaction and provide staff with a greater sense of accomplishment.” In addition to the renovations, which also included new flooring and paint to give the ED a fresh look, Greacon said that ED staff are now allowed to initiate simple standing orders, such as X-rays and lab reports –– something which was previously done only by physicians. Greacon believes this will expedite patient care because nurses will have the orders ready for the physician when he or she first sees the patient.

Improvements like these enable St. Joseph’s to better serve its patients, said Theodore Pasinski, president of St. Joseph’s. And they must be working, as the hospital this month has received two national honors.

St. Joseph’s was named one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals, one of only two hospitals in New York State to be recognized. The study, the ninth 100 Top Hospitals: National Benchmarks for Success, was conducted by Solucient –– a health-care information company. Although St. Joseph’s has been recognized in the 100 Top Hospitals studies for specific services, this is the first time St. Joseph’s has been recognized as one of the 100 Top Hospitals overall. The hospital has previously been cited in 100 Top Hospitals: Stroke Benchmarks for Success, 100 Top Hospitals: Orthopedic Benchmarks for Success and 100 Top Hospitals: Intensive Care Unit Benchmarks for Success.

“This overall award means a great deal to us because it represents our entire hospital and the work of all our medical, clinical and administrative staff members,” said Pasinski.

According to Jean Chenoweth, Solucient’s executive director of the 100 Top Hospitals program, the 100 Top Hospitals study analyzed the nation’s hospitals on quality of care, efficiency of operations and overall performance.

“Winners of the 100 Top award have demonstrated superior performance across their hospital as a whole by successfully balancing quality of care with operational and financial performance to better meet community needs and assure improvement of outcomes for patients,” said Chenoworth. The study noted that if all U.S. hospitals were to perform at the level of the 100 Top Hospitals, approximately 57,000 lives could be saved annually and expenses could decline an estimated $9.5 billion, resulting in lower health care costs for Americans.

St. Joseph’s was also recently awarded Magnet Recognition for Excellence, the highest honor a hospital can receive for nursing services, by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Of nearly 6,000 hospitals nationwide, only one percent receive Magnet distinction.

“This recognition means that St. Joseph’s is a magnet for attracting and retaining outstanding nurses,” said Janis Kohlbrenner, RN, Ph.D., vice president of clinical services and chief nursing officer at St. Joseph’s. The ANCC, a division of the American Nurses Association, is the nation’s leading credentialing center. Through the Magnet Recognition Program, ANCC promotes excellence in nursing services and recognizes hospitals that deliver the highest level of care.

Magnet designation signifies both a positive practice environment for nursing staff as well as better patient care, said Kohlbrenner. Research within Magnet hospitals shows significantly lower mortality rates, shorter stay lengths and greater patient satisfaction. Nurses are key to the delivery of quality health care at St. Joseph’s. Of the hospital’s 3,500 employees, more than 40 percent are nurses. Two years ago St. Joseph’s instituted an active recruitment and retention program which, combined with the success of the hospital’s nursing school, has resulted in a reduction of nurse vacancy rate from 19 percent to 6 percent. Kohlbrenner said that she is very pleased with the nursing program, adding that all the nurses at St. Joseph’s have much to be proud of.

Pasinski said that the benefits of distinctions such as the 100 Top Hospital and Magnet Recognition extend far beyond the services of the hospital’s medical staff; they positively affect the care patients at St. Joseph’s receive. “These awards reflect the dedication and commitment our staff makes every day to ensure that patient care is our highest priority,” he stated.

For more information on St. Joseph’s nursing school, or any of its other services visit www.sjhsyr.org or call 1-888-STJOES-1.

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