Improvement-- a never-ending endeavor that Phelps County Regional Medical Center (PCRMC) continues to make a priority.

By taking a proactive approach, PCRMC has implemented new strategies to streamline the admission of psychiatric patients from the emergency department to the center for psychiatric services and has taken a new approach to communication. 

After the patient quality and safety plan was approved by the board at the April 25 meeting, the medical center was progressive, and immediately discussed indicators and approaches to implement a new 14-step communication process compared to the previous 57-step process.

This has already shown significant success in improving the overall experience of patients and staff at PCRMC and materialized through one of the medical center’s leading employees to excellent patient care (LEEP) projects. The project involves using mean principals to look at processes to determine the best actions needed to improve, stated Administrative Director of Clinical Quality and Measurement, Infection Prevention, Safety and Emergency Management Linde Merrow to the hospital board during a May 23 meeting. 

The LEEP project included a diversity of team members that involved physicians, staff in nursing and care management along with other personnel of PCRMC. The team members mapped out the entire process of communication within the organization and identified 50 steps in the prior process that had no added value to patients, physicians and the overall make-up of PCRMC.

Instead the team came up with a 14-step process. 

“What they were seeing from the psychiatric services is that they were being pulled away from caring for their patients in the psychiatric unit to answer the phone because they were getting calls about if the beds were open,” said Merrow.  “Then there were interruptions in nursing workflow and tension and anxiety among staff.”

Results of the new 14-step process have been promising. There has been increased staff time with patients, decreased interruptions of nursing workflow and reduced tension and anxiety among the staff.

“Now there is electronic communication, so they know at the beginning of their shift and during their shift if beds are going to be open for patients,” said Merrow. “This is significant when you can spend more time with your patients.”