Qualis Health Recognizes Alaska Facilities for Improving Quality of Healthcare


ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Three local healthcare organizations will be honored by Qualis Health, a nonprofit quality improvement organization, for leadership and vision in improving patient care. Each institution will be recognized during the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association's annual conference, Oct. 27, in Anchorage.

For these organizations, it wasn't enough to simply think about improving patient care; they actually applied evidence-based medicine to make measurable improvements in the state's healthcare -- accomplishments celebrated by Qualis Health. Wildflower Court, of Juneau; Fairbanks Memorial Hospital Home Health Care agency, of Fairbanks; and Providence Alaska Medical Center, of Anchorage, will each be awarded the prestigious Award of Excellence in Health Care Quality, for work that will improve healthcare quality for years to come.

"Qualis Health recognizes the tremendous commitment demonstrated by these organizations," said Jonathan Sugarman MD, MPH, president and CEO of Qualis Health, who will attend the event. "Their accomplishments illustrate that evidence-based clinical practice, coupled with collaboration, fosters an environment where measurable change in the quality of patient care is possible."

Providence Alaska Medical Center, the state's largest hospital, recognized that nationwide, ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) was the leading cause of death among hospital-acquired infections. The 364-bed facility also knew that decreasing the amount of time ICU patients were on ventilators could decrease the incidence of VAP. Beginning in 2002, hospital staff standardized their processes and implemented known medical interventions to reduce patient duration on ventilators by an average of 15 hours per patient. Lengthier stays, in addition, can expose patients to other medical complications which can result in higher healthcare costs. Among the organization's measurable improvements:

-- Increasing communication and input from multiple disciplines including physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists

-- Standardizing and streamlining processes

-- Collecting data based on medical best practices

-- Utilizing a "rapid cycle change" system to quickly implement new findings into interventions

On behalf of their significant achievement, a Providence Alaska Medical Center representative will accept the Award of Excellence in Health Care Quality.

In nursing homes, pressure ulcers  are a serious risk for anyone confined to wheelchairs or beds. If untreated or undetected, these skin sores can lead to severe pain, slow recovery from health problems and even result in death. Wildflower Court was able to reduce the incidence of pressure ulcers over an eight-month period from 17 percent in April 2004 to 5 percent in December 2004. The organization's measurable improvements include:

-- Refining treatment protocols

-- Designating a specific nurse to supervise prevention and treatment

-- Establishing a standardized routine of skin assessment

-- Increasing collaboration and knowledge sharing among staff

Bill Compton, Wildflower Court's resident care coordinator, will accept the Award of Excellence in Health Care Quality on behalf of the organization.

Each year, many home health care patients are hospitalized for preventable conditions. Not only does this impact the patient, it also taxes the healthcare system and increases healthcare costs. From 2004 to 2005, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital Home Health Care agency reduced preventable hospitalizations by more than 10 percent (28.25 percent to 18 percent), by making these


-- Implementing a program of risk assessment for higher risk patients

-- Establishing more frequent home visits for identified patients

-- Improving communication and collaboration with referral sources

-- Increasing communications and education with discharge planners

In recognition of their achievement, Carl Sanford, hospital administrator for Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and Home Health Care, will be awarded the Award of Excellence in Health Care Quality.

Source: Qualis Health






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