Minnesota Hospital Association


June 20, 2013

At Ortonville Area Health Services focus on patient safety is simply the 'right thing to do'

Delivering safe, high quality patient care is at the core of what Ortonville Area Health Services strives to achieve. Situated on Minnesota’s western border with South Dakota, Ortonville Area Health Services is a critical access hospital with 25 beds. Yet the hospital doesn’t let its limited resources impact its commitment to patient safety.

As a participant in the Minnesota Hospital Association’s Hospital Engagement Network (HEN), Ortonville has committed resources to improve on all 10 HEN focus areas. “From my perspective, patient safety and quality are at the heart of what we want to have happen here,” said CEO Richard Ash. “We know it needs to be the most important thing so our efforts keep that at the forefront.”

Ortonville is among only a handful of hospitals to have reached the national Partnership for Patients goal of a 40 percent reduction in five different hospital-acquired conditions and a 20 percent reduction in readmissions. They achieved this goal by starting small and letting momentum build. “You have to start somewhere,” said Jennifer Wiik, director of nursing. “It can seem overwhelming and big, but you just start small and go from there.”

In 2008, Ortonville earned its first award from MHA for its work on SAFE COUNT, an initiative to prevent retained foreign objects during surgery. Over the next two years, the hospital continued to focus on additional SAFE road maps.

Three years ago, Ortonville had the opportunity to make physical changes to its space when it built a new facility. The philosophy behind the new hospital’s design was to bring the nurse closer to the patient. By physically redesigning the space with more nurses’ stations throughout the unit and computers in every patient room, Ortonville was able to redesign its space to better accommodate patient-centered care. In addition to adding computers in the patient rooms, Ortonville implemented an electronic medical record that together, allow the nurse to chart and document at the bedside in real time.

Changes such as these and the hospital’s involvement in Transforming Care at the Bedside (TCAB), a nurse-led initiative, have helped increase nurse time at the bedside from 38 percent to 73 percent in an 18-month time period.

Ortonville understands the importance of using data to drive performance improvement; reporting data to the MHA portal on falls and hospital-acquired pressure ulcers since the portal was developed in 2009. The hospital has realized continual improvement in both areas of patient harm, maintaining at or below the state average in pressure ulcer prevention for three years. As MHA has expanded topics of harm prevention through the Hospital Engagement Network, Wiik and Ash have led Ortonville’s participation in every topic, starting with data submission, which helps drive facility improvement as well as contributes to the pool of data that forms the springboard for statewide harm prevention. Wiik’s motto is “just do it.” The hospital has also experienced success with perinatal safety and according to its dashboard report from MHA the hospital has had no early elective deliveries — one of the key focus areas in reducing perinatal harm. Ortonville has implemented over 98 percent of the SAFE SITE road map, which has led to success in preventing surgical procedure harm.

The hospital has placed an emphasis on getting the entire organization beyond just those at the bedside involved and engaged around patient safety. “TCAB was cool because it wasn’t just nursing that got involved,” said Wiik. “Housekeeping and our laundry facility got on board too.” By removing one mattress pad from the beds, the hospital was able to reduce 2.2 pounds of linen per bed per admission. This saved the organization 900 pounds of laundry.

Ortonville has been able to achieve success with strong support from leadership. CEO Rick Ash participates in patient safety and quality meetings and makes a point to speak to the importance of these efforts for the patient as well as the hospital’s future in a changing health care environment. “There are so many opportunities for things to work on and my team wants to do it all. It’s hard to do it all so I just want to recognize the motivation and energy to get it all done,” said Ash.

The way Wiik sees it, continuously working to improve patient safety is just the right thing to do for patients. “Patients who seek care at a critical access hospital deserve the same level of care as those at a PPS hospital.” By being involved in the HEN and other safety initiatives, Ortonville Area Health Services ensures patients receive the highest quality care possible.