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New Ulm Medical Center

An eye on improvements at New Ulm Medical Center

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Cindy Jensen, LPN (right), chats with patient Eunice Kock during her hourly rounding recently at the New Ulm Medical Center inpatient unit. Hourly rounding, upgraded mattresses and equipment, and the hospitalist program are all components of the inpatient unit designed to make the patient’s experience the best it can be.

Staying at a hospital for any extended period of time can often be a stressful experience for both the patient and loved ones. New Ulm Medical Center understands this feeling, which is why they have put a focus on improving the patient experience in the inpatient unit over the last several years. “The improvements made here have not only been from listening to patients, but also from listening to staff,” said Sharie Novak, RN, manager of the Med/Surg/CCU departments.

Hospitalist program

Three years ago, New Ulm Medical Center also introduced the hospitalist program. A hospitalist is a physician who specializes in the care of patients while at a hospital. “The hospitalist is available 24 hours/7days a week, Sunday through Thursday and during the day on weekends,” said Novak. “This program has provided an increased opportunity for collaboration between nursing and physicians. Physicians may round on patients more than once a day, and oftentimes families have a chance to visit with the physician and get their questions answered in a timely fashion. If the patient experiences a change in condition, this is quickly managed by staff and the hospitalist.”

Here are a handful of qualities on the inpatient unit that are important not only to patient satisfaction but also to patient safety.

Updated equipment

Each room on the inpatient unit has been outfitted with the latest equipment, including beds that interface with the nurse call system so that alarms can quickly notify staff if needed. “There are also camera-monitored rooms for patients who need an increased level of monitoring to keep them safe,” said Novak.

In addition, each room, is outfitted with a white board to allow the nurses and doctors to communicate more clearly their plan of care with the patient.

Hourly rounds

Patients can also be comforted in knowing that their nurses will be doing hourly rounds to check on them in their private room. “Nurses proactively check on patients every hour to see if they need assistance to go to the bathroom, if they need help repositioning and to assess the patient’s pain,” said Novak. “Patients are assured they will see their nurse every hour and are encouraged to use the call light if they need assistance sooner.”

Comfy mattresses

“Recently we received some patient concerns about the mattresses and how difficult it was to get out of the beds,” said Novak. “They also said that sitting on the edge of the bed was uncomfortable. After rounding on several patients and finding out the qualities of the mattress that would make the mattress more comfortable and functional, we were able to replace 66 percent of those mattresses, and by the first of 2012, we hope to replace 100 percent of them.”

Continually improving

As the Med/Surg/CCU departments look to the future, more improvements are on the way. Nurses are participating now in “transformative nursing” classes that will teach them ways to help patients recover and relax on the inpatient unit beyond what medication and doctoring can do for them. Transformative nursing is the practice of using things like hand massage, aromatherapy and guided imagery. “It’s just one more way that we can make sure we are taking care of our patient’s from every aspect – not just physically but emotionally as well.”

Next spring, New Ulm Medical Center's mission to support patient safety continues with the implementation of Bedside Barcode Scanning. Bedside barcode scanning provides an increased level of safety for patients during medication and blood product administration.