Holy Cross Hospital Celebrates National Hospital Week, May 8-16 making important strides in improving quality and protecting safety of hospital patients.

May 11, 2016

This month Governor Susana Martinez issued a proclamation designating the week of May 8 through 14 as National Hospital week in New Mexico. The Governor cited the important contributions made by the state’s hospitals to the health of our communities and the economic wellbeing of our state.

Holy Cross Hospital and the 45 members of the the New Mexico Hospital Association (NMHA) are  deeply committed to advancing the quality of care delivered to hospital patients in our state. Through the dedicated efforts of of healthcare professionals here in Taos County and across New Mexico, our state has achieved significant gains in quality and patient safety in recent years.

Last month, 70 health care leaders from across New Mexico attended the NMHA Patient Safety Summit where they shared best practices and discussed how to create a culture of quality and safety in our state’s hospitals. A central theme was the ongoing effort by hospitals to function as so-called “high reliability organizations” that successfully avoid errors and accidents in environments that are, by nature, high-risk or complex.

Underscoring its commitment to quality, the NMHA recently appointed a new statewide Director of Clinical Services and Quality. Susan Sanches, a registered nurse, serves in this newly-established role and brings considerable experience in clinical quality process experience and clinical nursing. She oversees the organization’s federal funding for patient safety as well as other statewide initiatives. In March, Quality New Mexico appointed Sanches to their Board of Directors.

The NMHA and its member hospitals also participate in numerous statewide collaboratives to improve quality and patient safety. Examples include the New Mexico Healthcare-Associated Infections Advisory Committee, the New Mexico Perinatal Collaborative and the New Mexico Health Information Systems Advisory Committee. The NMHA recently created a Southeast New Mexico Regional Collaborative to help reduce the number of falls. Working with four hospitals, this collaborative focuses on finding ways to engage patients and family members in preventing injuries from falls.

Holy Cross Hospital is among the 30 NMHA member hospitals who participate in one of 17 Hospital Engagement Networks (HENs) funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to help reduce the preventable complications that can be experienced by hospital patients. Nationwide, since the launch of the CMS Partnership for Patients in 2010, more than two million complications and adverse events were avoided in hospitals, resulting in 87,000 fewer patient deaths and nearly $20 billion in healthcare cost savings. Here in New Mexico, between 2012 and 2014, HENs reduced harm by 31% and saved an estimated $5 million.

In New Mexico’s Hospital Quality Improvement Incentive program, fully half of the hospitals eligible to report on specific safety indicators demonstrated zero events for certain urinary tract infections, bloodstream infections, falls and pressure injuries. New Mexico’s hospitals provide exceptional care, with a constant eye on the goal to achieve and sustain near-perfect safety.

A key factor in these and other improvements has been patient and family involvement. Partnering with patients, families and other caregivers has been shown to improve quality and safety and to transform the culture in hospitals. The NMHA has promoted patient and family engagement through educational sessions, speakers, patient and family resources for hospitals, and support of legislation to include lay caregivers in the planning process when patients are discharged from the hospital.

Holy Cross Hospital is committed to patient safety and quality care. That is why hospital infection rates including surgical site infection rates continue to be at less than 1%. State and national averages remain above 25%.

Current quality and safety initiatives at Holy Cross include:

  • Reducing patient transfers – The Advanced Care Unit or ‘Universal Bed’ allows us to transition the level of care a patient receives from higher acuity critical care level of service to a Medical-Surgical level of care, and ultimately to discharge for his/her entire stay. This ‘Universal Bed’ has been has been shown to reduce the number of transfers of Critical Care patients to other facilities. This is due to only having two ICU beds in the past, now there potentially can be four to six beds for higher acuity patients depending on their illness. It has also shown to reduce the number of medication errors and falls in patient care.
  • Decreasing wait times in the emergency room – beginning in summer 2016 Holy Cross will begin piloting a new process that should decrease the time a patient has to wait to see a provider as well as decrease the time of their overall length of stay in the emergency room whether they are discharged to home or admitted in the hospital.
  • Reducing infections through actively participating as a whole facility in hand hygiene observation.

National Hospital Week provides an opportunity to recognize the contributions made by New Mexico’s hospitals and reflect on recent improvements in quality and safety. While significant progress has been made, more work must be done to address new and emerging challenges, like the Zika virus and others.

To meet the challenges that lie ahead, we must work together to ensure adequate funding and reimbursement for our state’s hospitals so they can maintain staffing levels, specialized training and other actions vital to protecting and improving the health of New Mexicans.