Avera Marshall earns two Minnesota Hospital Association awards

Photo by Jody Isaackson Avera Health Marshall’s vice president of organizational excellence Vickie Abel and registered nurse Toni Strand display their awards.

MARSHALL — Avera Marshall medical staff members were recently recognized for their diligence and listening skills.

Registered nurse Toni Strand brought home an award from the Minnesota Hospital Association awards banquet held at the Metropolitan Ballroom, Minneapolis, on June 2.

She received a crystal trophy to commemorate being named MHA’s Caregiver of the Year.

Avera Marshall’s chief nursing officer Dodie Derynck had written the nomination for Strand.

“I think it really reflects on the great staff we have here,” Derynck said. “It’s a state award and lots of people were nominated. It makes you proud to be known around the state. Toni’s husband, Brad, was very proud. It made all the long shifts away from home and extra work seem worthwhile. Toni’s proud, too, but doesn’t show it.”

Derynck’s comments on the nomination form were summarized as follows:

“Toni Strand, RN, is House Charge Nurse at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center. She serves across a wide spectrum of care, including behavioral health, medical, OB/post-partum, emergency and ICU. She is in charge of code teams, is a super user of the electronic medical record system and led Avera Marshall’s medication project. She began caregiving at age 16 as a certified nursing assistant, and progressed to LPN and then RN. In her current position, she serves as a resource, example and support person for the community of nurses at Avera Marshall who, like herself, must wear many hats.”

Derynck added that Strand always does what’s best for the patient, even if others question it.

Strand singled out medical/surgical as her field of expertise, but also explained that it made her proud to serve on the medication reconciliation project.

The project began when Strand and her colleagues experienced some “significant near misses” involving home medication lists. That’s when she and some coworkers got together and researched best practices and put together a new plan to implement.

“We increased accuracy on the home medication lists by at least 50 percent,” Strand said. “Patients’ med lists should be updated every time you see a provider.”

Strand said this award won’t make a difference in the way she and the rest of the staff get along.

“I have a great relationship with my team whether I’m a floor nurse or charge nurse,” she said. “We read each other’s minds.”

During the banquet, Strand said she received something that meant even more to her than the best caregiver award. It was a challenge coin.

“The nursing leader from Regions Hospital in the Cities gave it to me,” Strand said. She explained that the commemorative coin was for service personnel to use on social occasions. The challenge was to see who had the oldest coin.

Strand had served on two stateside deployments as a truck driver for the Army National Guard, so she respected the gift of the challenge coin.

The secret to Strand’s success, she said, is in listening to people, whether they’re staff, the patient or the patient’s family.

“You have to listen to what they’re really saying and (figure out what they’re) really needing,” she said. ” A patient might say she has a stomachache, but what’s really going on?”

Also, Strand said that if she ever questions herself, she wants to look it up and make sure she’s giving the right answers.

Strand said she is grateful to all the people she works with.

“I wouldn’t be who I am without them,” she said.

Avera Marshall Health Care also received the MHA’s Patient Safety Improvement Award for its daily safety huddle, a standardized approach to identifying and addressing safety issues.

Derynck said that the hospital deserved the award.

“Vickie (Abel) led us to earn the award for the huddle,” Derynck said. “All the little things that make it safer for patients.”

Derynck said she was impressed with Abel’s diligence.

Abel, vice president of organizational excellence, in turn gave a lot of credit to hospital CEO for laying the foundation for the daily safety huddle program.

“Something like this doesn’t just happen overnight,” Abel said. “Mary Maertens laid the foundation to successfully roll out the daily safety huddle. It was two years in the making.”

She explained that a foundation of understanding behind the Why of holding them is needed. Avera Marshall makes attendance at their daily safety huddles mandatory for all employees so that they all stay in the loop.

“It’s a 5 to 7 minute stand-up meeting where each leader reports by department,” she said. “It’s the next level of being reliable. Our patients are at the center of it all.”

Leaders are asked to put their safety concerns on the white board in the conference room where they meet. During the meeting, the agenda begins with bed status reports, planned admits, discharges and transfers. Following those, leaders are to share what were the threats to safety in the last 24 hours. Then, What are the threats to safety in the next 24 hours?

Under looking ahead, the staff is asked:

Are we dealing with any situations that distract us from patient care of decrease our ability to critically think about patient safety?

Are there high risk patients or procedures?

Are there deficiencies in supplies, equipment or staffing?

Are there employee safety issues to consider?

The huddles wrap up with what are your department specific safety concerns, questions or follow-up from the Daily Safety Huddle Summary? which is a follow-up on what was supposed to have been resolved since the last huddle.

Strand appreciates huddle time for how much more quickly concerns get attention than previously.

“This process is improving the collaboration, efficiency, accountability, engagement an transparency across the organization,” Abel said in her nomination. “In just two months’ time, more than 50 issues have been reported and addressed. The focus is finding and fixing concerns that can contribute to errors in order to minimize harm and prevent future incidents, enhancing safety for patients and visitors.”

Huddles are also great for training on new equipment, Abel said.

Avera Marshall is the only Avera site that has daily safety huddles at this time, however, Abel said that other sites are requesting information from her in order to develop their own.

Abel says that the award was a team effort with every single employee appreciating the value of it.

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