Quality and safety on display

WILLMAR -- When patients would leave Rice Memorial Hospital's emergency department with a prescription, it was often a challenge for them to get their medicine right away.

WILLMAR -- When patients would leave Rice Memorial Hospital's emergency department with a prescription, it was often a challenge for them to get their medicine right away.

Sometimes it was late at night and no pharmacies were open.

Or the patient still wasn't feeling well, or there were other inconveniences in driving to a pharmacy.

So the emergency department studied its options and came up with a solution: a vending machine that dispenses commonly used prescription drugs -- antibiotics and pain medication, for instance -- that patients can buy before they leave the emergency room.

The project, which was implemented in September, was one of more than a dozen that were highlighted Thursday at Rice Hospital's annual patient safety and quality fair.


It's a chance to shine the spotlight on what's been happening behind the scenes to improve patient care, said Teri Beyer, chief quality officer for the city-owned hospital.

"The opportunity is for staff to showcase the work that they've done," she said.

Hospital staff mingled with the public Thursday to view the exhibits and learn more about each of the projects.

"You hear about these, but it's nice to see," said Dale Hustedt, associate administrator for facility and human resources.

Emergency-room patients who have used the new automatic dispenser to get their prescriptions filled have been grateful for the service, said June Boie, a nurse clinician with the emergency department.

It also has cut down on time and paperwork within the hospital, she said. "This is convenient for staff as well."

Sherri Klaers, staff education coordinator, described how a project to improve patient information materials led to a $5,000 reduction in printing costs and a new way of using online technology.

"We figured out a way to put them on Powerpoint and on our closed-circuit TV channel," she said.


Patients can now view mandatory materials, such as the Minnesota Patient Bill of Rights, by video, Klaers explained. The materials come in three languages and can be printed out if the patient wants a hard copy.

Another standard material, a brochure outlining patient safety, has been laminated so it can be easily reused, Klaers said.

Other projects tackled issues such as reducing surgery-related infections, screening for early kidney disease, and addressing patient health literacy.

Rice Hospice showcased a new program that streamlines how standing orders are provided for medications at home and in the hospital for patients at the end of life.

This has made the process more consistent and also helped ensure that the best evidence-based practices are used for managing patients' symptoms, explained Mary Beth Potter of the Rice Hospice nursing staff.

The radiology department introduced Suburban Radiology, the group that's now providing radiology coverage at the hospital.

"Most every one of their radiologists has a subspecialty, so we did gain a higher level of expertise in those areas we didn't have before. We're hoping to expand the coverage," said Tony Rime, the hospital's medical imaging director.

Of the 13 entries in the event, seven competed for prizes. Judges weighed the process used in each project, how well it measured improvement and the overall value of the improvement.


Projects could be either small in scope or could be long-term projects involving multiple departments at the hospital, Beyer said.

Winners among the large-scale projects were surgical improvement, first, and improved patient education materials, second. Among the smaller-scale projects, an initiative to reduce ambulance response time was first and the emergency department prescription vending project was second.

All 13 entries will remain on display until the end of the week. The winners will be exhibited for hospital staff and the public until the end of March.

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