At Andalusia Health, Quality Matters

July 5, 2016

By John Yanes, CEO, Andalusia Health, and Melissa Davis, Chief Clinical Officer

The word "quality" is something we hear quite often in healthcare. But what exactly does it mean? 

Some organizations define quality as a certain set of scores or benchmarks. At Andalusia Health, we have a different view.  To us, quality encompasses everything we do: how we care for patients, how we ensure the health and safety of each of our employees, and how we contribute to the health of our communities. 

We believe that every person at our hospital -- our physicians, our employees in every department, and our patients and their family members -- plays an important role in the delivery of quality care.  We constantly strive to improve how we provide care and enhance our patients' experiences, and we work hard to maintain a culture that empowers everyone to feel ownership over the care and service we provide. 

This approach to quality is making a difference at our hospital and in our community, and I want to share one specific example of which I am very proud. 

As you may know, central lines are very common procedures that allow us to administer medication, fluids, nutrients or blood products to a patient. Like any opening in the skin, they also create an access point for germs to enter the body. What you may not know is that central line infections are serious challenges in healthcare, and there is an industry-wide focus on preventing them. 

Our team has worked very hard to prevent central line infections at our facility. We became involved in the Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP) led by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Through the CUSP, we promoted a culture of patient safety among all employees, medical staff and volunteers, enhanced communication among staff members, and implemented new processes to prevent these infections.

We also worked to nurture critical, safety-sensitive behaviors and let our staff know that it is safe to speak up if they see a potential issue. Our outstanding team of employees and medical staff have been instrumental in helping us evaluate our practices and take measures to close any gaps in safety protocols the moment they are identified. 

Our efforts have been very successful.  In the past five years, we have administered more than 1,600 central lines without a single infection. This is an accomplishment very few hospitals have been able to achieve. 

Perhaps the best news is that our commitment to quality is not isolated to central lines. The lessons we learned through the CUSP are being applied hospital-wide -- from surgery to rehabilitation, emergency services to cardiac care, and everywhere in between. 
We are proud of the work we've done, but we know that our job is far from finished. Going forward, we will maintain our strong focus on quality. We will continue to monitor infection rates, engage hospital staff members from all levels and departments to be actively involved in eliminating risks, and empower staff and patients to speak up when a potential issue is detected. 

At Andalusia Health, our goal is for every person who sets foot inside our hospital to not just hear about our commitment to quality, but to feel it and be a part of it. Because at Andalusia Health, quality is more than just a set of clinical criteria - it is a way of life.