Committing to Patient-Centered Care and Patient Safety: Podcast

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

HealthStream’s Second Opinions Podcast series features industry experts and leaders and their take on issues impacting healthcare today and tomorrow.

Our current installment is an interview with Joan Wynn, Ph.D., RN, the Chief Quality Officer and President of Vidant Home Health and Hospice, who was recently named one of the top 50 experts in the country in the field of patient safety. Under her leadership, Vidant has successfully implemented many strategies that address patient safety and quality.

Below is an edited excerpt from the recording with HealthStream’s Brad Weeks, our host:


Vidant has a long history of working with patients and families as advisers. I'm curious, what was the catalyst for your using patients and their families to tell stories that impacted not just the Board and the executives, but the entire organization. What really started that process for you?

Joan Wynn:   

What started it was a story from a staff member whose family member, her younger brother, had been a patient in our hospital. She shared the story with our senior team. Her brother was the victim of a home invasion and a shooting. He was a college student who ended up in our surgical ICU. His sister, who was an occupational therapist, talked about how limiting our visiting policies were. She ended her story by telling us that her brother, who had been very sick from these gunshot wounds, died alone—because of our restricted visitation policies in our intensive care unit.

That was an extremely emotional and pivotal time in our organization because it was one of our own, sharing how she and her family had been so gravely impacted by our policies that were not patient-centered. When that happened the senior leadership team really said that we are not going to be this organization—we’re going to be a different organization. One of the ways to do that is to engage patients and families in the work to have an advisory role for patients and families. We began really putting the policies in place that would make us more patient-centered. We now have what we call a family presence policy. It's not called visitation, because these aren't visitors, they're family members for the most part. So that was one of the first things that we went after—the family presence policy. Then we also created a real and true formal role for a patient adviser program, with a job description and interview and orientation. We say that our patient advisers go through the same on-boarding as our employees, except they don't sign up to get direct deposit because we don't pay them. They really are an integral part of our organization and have been for going on ten years. [This has been] truly transformational for us, because when you have a patient on an improvement team that's talking about surgical site infection, for example, what we do with patients who have diabetes and come in with an elevated blood sugar? Do we cancel the surgery? Do we reschedule? Is that really what patients and families want? You have surgeons in the room when they hear the patient adviser say, “Wait a minute if that was me and that elevated blood sugar meant I had a more significant chance of getting a post-op infection, I'd want you to change the surgery and reschedule it until my body was at its optimal to have a successful procedure.” When you hear from the actual people themselves—the patient and families—it just changes the conversation. It has really been a significant factor for us in our improvement work.

To hear more from Dr. Wynn click here to access the full interview.

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