Goal-Driven Focus on Quality

In FY 2019, Milford Regional re-committed to ensuring the delivery of high-quality, safe care for every patient through an investment in the Quality Department that raised the bar on not only reaching, but exceeding benchmarks in quality measures. Key individuals with recognized expertise and achievements in quality joined the Milford Regional team to advance the hospital’s quality initiatives. New positions were instituted including Vice President for Clinical Transformation and Medical Staff Services/Chief Quality Officer, Manager of Accreditation, Nursing Director of Quality and a Healthcare Data Analytics Manager. The department’s current positions were redesigned and two new roles were created: Clinical Risk Manager and Research Coordinator.

As Milford Regional’s new Vice President for Clinical Transformation and Medical Staff Services/Chief Quality Officer Bert Thurlo-Walsh, MM, RN, CPHQ, stepped into his role, he involved every member of the Medical Center in charting the quality course. He asked every employee to consider the importance of quality in the role they play in Milford Regional’s mission and asked for input on how to communicate this vision both inside the Medical Center and to the community we serve. The word that gained support throughout the organization was STRIVE. This word reflects the serious individual effort and collaborative energy that every member of the team is devoting to an intense, goal-driven focus on quality.

The Quality Team is building its foundation on four key tenets: Leadership Engagement, Safety Culture, Robust Process Improvement and an Exceptional Experience. This transformation has been about far more than titles and words; this transformation has identified quality as the underpinning of everything Milford Regional does in healthcare. Quality is our foundation.

PHOTO ABOVE: The Milford Regional quality team (left to right): Cathy O’Connell, Director of Risk Management; Kim Knox, Infection Prevention and Control Manager; Pam Vaccari, Quality and Safety Specialist; Michelle Barry, Patient Liaison; Beth Plausse, Project Manager/Risk Management; Bert Thurlo-Walsh, VP, Clinical Transformation and Medical Staff Services/Chief Quality Officer; Kara Tuohey, System Design and Process Improvement Program Manager; Bonnie Burke, Infection Preventionist/Quality and Safety Specialist; Jane Centauro, Quality and Safety Specialist; Courtney Canto, Manager of Regulatory Affairs and Compliance and Kristen Posterro, Quality and Safety Specialist.

Leadership Engagement

Leadership starts at the top of the organization. This initiative began with the Milford Regional Board of Trustees, senior management and each person at the director level throughout the organization uniting under a common vision of where Milford Regional was and where we wanted to take our healthcare system. Engagement and communication were the first step in the transformation. The STRIVE quality initiatives would require measurement to ensure continual improvement. Leadership at every level agreed upon performance improvement metrics. For non-clinical members of the Board of Trustees, an immersion day program is being developed, which allows these individuals to spend a day in the Medical Center to witness the day-to-day operations and their challenges. This will help the board more completely understand the impact of their strategic decision-making on the operations and personnel. In FY 2019, through the efforts put forth by the Quality Department, senior managers have already developed a clearer understanding of the significance their roles play in supporting a quality environment.

In a similar regard, physician leadership roles were enhanced under the leadership of Chief Medical Officer Leslie G. Selbovitz, MD, to strengthen their engagement in bolstering department level quality. A key part of this endeavor in FY 2019 was the successful development of peer review committees that strategically focused on ensuring high quality, safe care.

A new quality initiative called “The Huddle” brings representatives from all departments of the hospital to participate in a daily briefing that provides a real-time status of hospital operations and patient care.

Culture of Safety

A significant “culture of safety” initiative that was introduced in FY 2019 was a daily meeting known as “The Huddle.” At this 365-days-a-year, mandatory, organization-wide gathering, front-line staff, Milford Regional providers and administration take no more than 15 minutes every morning to report on the current status of hospital operations and patient care. The four main goals of The Huddle are to eliminate silos, increase situational awareness, improve communication across teams and enhance the safety culture. It provides the unique opportunity for departments and providers to update and discuss issues on the spot daily. A weekly update is then emailed to all Milford Regional providers and Medical Center employees.

Robust Process Improvement

In order to effectively implement process improvement, the first step is to assess where the healthcare system stands in the areas of engagement, safety and resiliency. Milford Regional conducted a Culture of Safety survey with Press Ganey in FY 2019 to assess these measurements. Engagement questions determined how staff felt about the organization and their role within it; safety questions assessed staff’s view of how their individual departments function and how effectively they collaborate with other departments; and resiliency questions assessed staff’s perception of their work/life balance.

In FY 2020, managers will be given training and the tools needed to effectively take the survey results and develop projects with front-line staff to address areas of concern and strengthen their department’s culture of safety.

Exceptional Experience

After capturing data from the Culture of Safety survey, the next step for Milford Regional’s Quality Department will be to compare those findings with results from our patient satisfaction survey. This will present a broader picture of the staff, provider and patient experience. Analytics will allow Milford Regional to focus on creating an environment that takes into account everyone’s experience both on the giving and receiving end, recognizing that the sum of the whole leads to a healthier, happier and more satisfying experience all the way around.

In addition, the Quality Department is reaching beyond the hospital’s walls to extend our continuum of care with outside healthcare organizations through semi-annual meetings to create broader awareness and greater collaboration. Throughout all of these efforts, Milford Regional is striving to create an exceptional experience that spans the entire continuum of care during a patient’s illness.

Recognition for Quality-Driven Care

Much has been accomplished in the first year of this quality transformation, and validation came in various ways as the year came to a close.

National Health Safety “A” Grade – Three Times in a Row Milford Regional was awarded an ‘A’ in The Leapfrog Group’s Hospital Safety Awards three times in a row: fall 2018, spring 2019 and again in fall 2019. This national distinction recognizes the Medical Center’s achievements protecting patients from harm and providing safer health care. Developed under the guidance of a national expert panel, the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade uses 28 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to assign grades to more than 2,600 U.S. acute-care hospitals twice per year. It is considered the gold standard in patient safety.

Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award Once again, Milford Regional received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines® – Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. The award recognizes the hospital’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence. Milford Regional earned the award by meeting specific quality achievement measures for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients at a set level for a designated period. The Medical Center has also met specific scientific guidelines as a Primary Stroke Center featuring a comprehensive system for rapid diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients admitted to the emergency department.

Regional Favorite Gold Award There are many awards earned each year that are based on healthcare data and statistics, however; the Reader’s Choice Awards announced by Gatehouse Media reflect the views and perceptions of individuals based upon their own personal experiences. It is for this reason that Milford Regional’s entire team is honored to be selected, once again, in 2019 as the #1 hospital in the region with the Regional Favorite Gold Award.

International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant Care Award Milford Regional was awarded global recognition for our commitment to providing professional lactation support as an integral part of our maternal-child services. The award recognizes our lactation consultants’ dedication to promote, protect and support breastfeeding with new moms.