Why collective changes at Kent make for a better community hospital
At Kent Hospital we are proud of our commitment to the community. This commitment has only grown in our 60 years of service. We know that our patients expect and deserve the best in quality health care with the best possible outcomes. They deserve a safe and efficient visit, whether they are here for a few hours or a few days.
That is why I am proud to share with you an important milestone for Kent, our patients and for the state of health care in Rhode Island. Kent Hospital is the first and only hospital in the state to implement a policy of no diversion for ambulances. In addition, we have dramatically focused time, energy and resources in creating the new Emergency Department patient rapid assessment model, dramatically cutting down wait times and, in some instances, virtually eliminating them.
As we have grown, we have done so with the needs of those we serve at the forefront. We continue to grow in size, and are currently in the midst of perhaps our biggest project to date – the new ambulatory surgery center and medical office building. Clinically we have made tremendous strides, been on the leading edge of change with new procedures, patient care models and more. We have grown our graduate medical education program and are helping to produce tomorrow’s doctors in a number of specialty fields. And, through it all, we have been the hospital where your friends, family and neighbors come to receive care, where they might work, and almost always are part of the fabric of our community.
Of course, if all we could do is speak of growth, rapidly advancing care and the personal touch it would be a perfect world. But we cannot. It is no secret that Kent Hospital has had its challenges. I am sure you are all aware of this, including those challenges that played out publicly in the fall of 2009.
From this came reflection but it also brought about hope and opportunity – opportunity for improvement and opportunity for us to redouble our commitment to you.
The creation of the Michael J. Woods Institute was the beginning of something new and exciting here at Kent Hospital. The last two years have brought about a tremendous focus on the job we do, beginning in our Emergency Department and spreading throughout the hospital.
In order to make both of these new programs safe, effective and patient-centered, we have reallocated resources to make it possible. In addition, careful coordination, planning and patient flow throughout the hospital has been addressed from the time a patient arrives to the time they are admitted or discharged.
Briefly, the practice of diversion is one that has allowed an emergency department to notify local emergency management services that, because of a high patient volume and strained staff resources, all ambulance traffic is to be redirected or diverted to another hospital.
It is important to note that the practice of diversion is not good for the quality of patient care as a whole. Patients could go elsewhere but when they do there will be no immediate access to their current records or even the team of caregivers that already may have an established and well understood history of a specific patient.
This practice can also have challenging effects on EMS personnel, as diversion forces them to leave their immediate communities for an extended time and requires them to seek mutual aid from another community EMS team. In the past, Kent Hospital has spent as much as 90 hours a month on diversion. Interestingly, Massachusetts state law prohibits this practice.
The second major accomplishment I want to explain is the new Emergency Department patient rapid assessment model. In the past, average wait time to be seen was two hours, while the entire patient visit averaged six. Today the average wait time is less than 45 minutes and the average overall visit is four hours.
This has been accomplished by establishing a more streamlined patient journey. When a patient arrives at Kent and walks into the Emergency Department, they are greeted by a friendly patient advocate and escorted into the treatment area.
From here a host of activities take place, including registration, bed assignment, nurse/provider interaction, lab work, x-rays, etc. Upon completion of testing, determination is made on discharge or admission. The new model is currently available from 9 a.m. through 9 p.m. daily. Expansion of these hours is anticipated later this year or early in 2012.
Individually, these are significant accomplishments. Collectively, this is a dramatic change in delivering safe, quality health care with a focus on the best possible outcomes.
I am excited about these improvements here at Kent Hospital. I know that they make our hospital stronger and better prepared to serve our community and our patients. I look forward to all that is in store for Kent and would reference a quote that has significant meaning for all of us at the hospital.
This quote is just an excerpt from a poem that has become part of our long history. It is simple in its phrase but powerful in its meaning: “And so the Inn stands strong ready to share the imperishable gift….as she will do for centuries to come, centuries measured not in years but in moments.”
I am proud to be a part of this moment.
Sandra Coletta is the President and CEO of Kent Hospital.