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WCMC Receives Innovator Award from AFMC
The Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care presented White County Medical Center with an Innovator Award at the organization’s annual Quality Conference recently. Innovator Awards honor hospitals that develop new and creative patient safety projects that successfully improve patient care.
“We are committed to providing our community with the information they need to make good decisions about their health,” said WCMC Director of Case Management and Performance Improvement Connie Taylor. “We appreciate AFMC for recognizing the care and effort we put into educating our community about the H1N1 influenza virus last fall.”
Infection Control Practitioner Mary Lou Adams, RN, said the department began receiving several calls about H1N1 last August. Many of the inquiries involved needing to know the facts about the new flu strain.
“We saw a need for educating the public due to the large amount of misinformation that was circulating at the time,” Adams said. “We tried to use as many avenues as possible to reach as many people as we could through radio spots, newspaper stories and speeches to civic clubs in White County.”
More than 17,000 flyers and pocket-sized informational cards were distributed at local businesses, schools, churches and at various events including the White County Fair, Ladies’ Night Out and WCMC Auxiliary meetings. In addition to educating the community, WCMC nurses volunteered to give thousands of H1N1 vaccines at school clinics and businesses throughout White County.
“Our community members were very involved in helping us prevent the spread of the flu,” said WCMC Director of Quality Assurance, Risk Management and Compliance Debbie Hare. “Visitors to the hospital used the infection prevention stations we placed throughout our facilities that offered hand sanitizer, tissues and face masks.”
According to WCMC Vice President of Patient Services LaDonna Johnston, WCMC reported 27 cases of the flu from December 2009 through February 2010. That is compared to 94 cases of influenza reported during the previous flu season from December 2008 to February 2009, which did not include the H1N1 flu.
“We attribute the significant decline of flu cases to raising the community’s awareness about H1N1 and administering vaccinations in our community and to associates in our hospital,” Johnston said. “Also, we revised our visitation policy to protect our patients during the flu season. Visitors who were already showing signs of being sick were encouraged to leave their loved one a hand-written note instead of visiting them in person. Our hospital provided cards and pens to visitors, then, the notes were delivered to the patients by our volunteers.”
Johnston added that an entire floor of the hospital was dedicated solely for flu patients, and the Emergency Department designated a separate waiting area for patients with flu-like symptoms.
This is the second year in a row WCMC has received an Innovator Award for improving the healthcare quality of both the community and associates.
PHOTO: Director of the Office Clinical Standards and Quality and chief medical officer at the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services Barry Straube, M.D. (center); presents an Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care Innovator Award to White County Medical Center Director of Case Management and Performance Improvement Connie Taylor (left) and WCMC Director of Quality Assurance, Risk Management and Compliance Debbie Hare (right).