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St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center

Advancing Excellence

Jul 8 2013
Commitment to Quality

Sunday’s Post-Standard included a story about an event that happened at St. Joseph's in 2009. We agreed not to discuss the details of the event at the family's request. We have spoken to the family throughout this experience and share their grief which has already been so deep given circumstances outside of St. Joseph’s involvement. Our thoughts are first and foremost with them.

Each and every life entrusted to a health care professional includes enormous responsibility. And while things are never as simple as one newspaper article might make them seem, what is most important is for each of us to realize is how fragile life is and to treat every person with the utmost of compassion and diligence of care. As with many things in life, what we do next is the most important thing.

St. Joseph’s provides compassionate care to more than 2,000 people every day throughout our system. Anytime something doesn’t go right, we take it extremely seriously. In this case, we have made personnel and policy changes and re-examined everything we do related to quality.

Every step of the way, we strive to improve the care we provide; taking time outs (which means a step back to ascertain the situation) to carefully examine employee concerns, and thoroughly reviewing mistakes when they do happen. Root cause analysis helps teams to learn how to hardwire policies and procedures to prevent untoward events from occurring.

Many things have changed over the last four years since this situation occurred. Our commitment to quality has included work with a nationally recognized Quality Institute to help us redesign our approach to patient care. We’ve reexamined every aspect of our quality process and added every tool recommended and utilized by the highest performing hospitals. We now provide quality education at every management meeting, and have set up a process to report not just errors – but near misses – so we can identify and fix problems before they occur.

In addition, we’ve implemented mandatory training for all staff in the promotion of a Just Culture – an objective approach to accountability which places the patient at the center and looks at systems, not just individual actions, to be sure we are doing all we can for patient safety and care.

We never want patients to be fearful of their healthcare experience. They need to know how deeply our employees feel when we do make a mistake and how open and honest we are with ourselves in making sure it doesn't happen again.

Do we have more to do? Absolutely. Every patient, every encounter, every day offers a chance for us to do better.

We will remain steadfast in that commitment.


5 Comments so far

Sr. Rose Ann Renna July 8, 2013 at 11:17 am

Kathy: Thank you for addressing this issue right away. I knew you would. You said so well what we try to do every day. We have a sacred trust and, I believe, we hold that responsibility in a responsible and reverent way.

Anne Messenger July 8, 2013 at 11:25 am

A thoughtful and sensitive response, along with laying out measures taken since the event. Thank you.

Christine Allen July 8, 2013 at 01:23 pm

I also very much appreciate your immediate, heartfelt and thoughtful post detailing the changes that have occurred since the incident occurred. The transparency and honesty helps so much. No system is perfect but the commitment to each and every patient and toward continual improvement is what makes a difference.

Kathy Mueller July 8, 2013 at 01:02 pm

Kathy's response only confirms one of our Core Values......Compassion.

Robert Constantine, MD August 10, 2013 at 01:17 pm

Kathy, your reply to this newspaper report was very professional and respectful to the patient and family and a job well done. It is unfortunate that the real facts of the situation can not be presented in respect to the family. Being personally involved in the care of this patient, I am aware of the very complex issues of of the case which can not be openly shared and I do believe we provided very compassiate care and followed the policies and procedures carefully and, most important, came up with the right solution. It is unfortunate it the press presents information without knowing (or having access to) the full details of the situation and the end result can be very damaging. I am very proud of the care the MICU provided to this patient

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