Innovations from the Field Series 1: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Response Series
In light of the unprecedented effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had across the nation and in recognizing the unique challenges facing Rural and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), the Compass HQIC Network team set out to identify examples of hospital successes related to the COVID-19 response in Iowa, South Dakota, Mississippi and Kansas. The first series in the Innovations from the Field project follows the stories of nine rural hospitals and highlights some of their successes, lessons learned and innovations big and small. The Compass HQIC team thanks them for their dedication and for sharing their stories as they continue to mobilize to meet the needs of their communities throughout the pandemic and care for their healthcare workforce.
Brookings Health + North Sunflower Medical Center + Knoxville Hospital and Clinics + UnityPoint Health - Marshalltown + Gove County Medical Center + Hutchinson Regional Medical Center + Washington County Hospital and Clinics + Dallas County Hospital
The Brookings Health system is a non-profit, city-owned health system that services the city of Brookings, South Dakota and its surrounding communities with a 49-bed hospital, 79-bed skilled nursing home, assisted living apartments and three outpatient clinics.
Home is Where the Heart Is
During times of surge the Brookings Health Foundation provides quick action support for their burdened workforce. Brookings recognized that employees start to get “burnt out” with longer working hours and added stress, this affects their ability to “turn off” work and be truly present during the few hours spent at home. As a way to say thank you to workers going above and beyond and provide some relief for them and their families, any employee throughout the entire health system who works 100 hours or more per pay period receives vouchers for two family style meals and four hours of home cleaning service. As a way of helping the local economy Brookings has consciously selected small and local businesses to provide these services. Watch the video below or access it directly (Link).
Love Our Healthcare Workers
The Love Our Healthcare Workers campaign was coordinated by the city of Brookings as a way to show hospital employees how much their time and dedication to saving lives in the midst of the pandemic means to the community. Thousands of people in the community dropped off hand-made paper hearts with words of encouragement. The hospital received more than 2,000 hearts in a few short weeks and posted them on the windows for all to see. This became the “cherry on top” of an already great week as the first doses of vaccine were received and a recovered COVID-19 patient was clapped out of the facility. Watch the video below or access it directly (Link).
North Sunflower Medical Center
North Sunflower Medical Center located in Ruleville, Mississippi encompasses a 25-bed Acute Care/Swingbed Critical Access Unit, 60-bed Skilled Nursing Facility, 10-bed Senior Care Unit and an Outpatient Behavioral Health Clinic.
Ruleville Team Responds
At the peak of the pandemic in spring of 2020, the administrator acted quickly to adjust protocols such as the visitor and COVID-19 testing policies in addition to converting the senior care unit into a COVID-19 isolation unit. Ruleville is in rural Mississippi where many residents do not have the means to travel to the nearest state or public health-run testing site. In an effort to slow the spread of the virus and reduce emergency room (ER) admissions, the hospital set up a drive thru testing tent in the parking lot. The tent was visible from the road. Patients were able to avoid the ER and isolate at home until test results came in 3-5 days. Once the weather permits, the hospital plans to use a similar setup for public vaccination. The small rural hospital realized that they can pull through anything together with a committed multidisciplinary team. Watch the video below or access it directly (Link).
Knoxville Hospital AND Clinics
Knoxville Hospital and Clinics, an affiliate of the MercyOne health system, is a CAH that serves the residents of Marion County, Iowa and its surrounding areas.
Knoxville Community Partnerships Improve Health Outcomes
The hospital collaborated with 2 local long-term care facilities and emergency transport services to ensure COIVD-19 positive residents received Bamlanivimab (BAM) infusion without being directly admitted to the hospital. As of February 3, the hospital has given 67 doses resulting in only 4.5% requiring hospitalization and a 95.5% overall survival rate. Watch the video below or access it directly (Link).
UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown
UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown is a community owned, not-for-profit hospital serving more than 60,000 residents in Iowa. As the only full-service medical center in the Marshalltown area, many depend on a wide variety of healthcare services including around-the-clock emergency care and a host of outreach programs designed to meet the healthcare needs of the community.
Impact of Hand-Hygiene on Safety
In 2020, the Leapfrog Group recognized Unity Point – Marshalltown and Barb Grabenbauer, RN, as a pandemic hero award winner for their efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 through an aggressive infection prevention hand hygiene campaign. Watch the video below or access it directly (Link).
Gove County Medical Center
Gove County Medical Center serves the communities of northwest and western Kansas with a 21-bed CAH and long-term care facility.
Prioritizing Respiratory Therapy
Gove County Medical Center had one of the first COVID-19 positive patients in Kansas and quickly realized that they needed to prioritize purchasing updated respiratory therapy equipment in order to meet the needs of patients and keep up with demand for services. Fully supported by hospital leadership, four respiratory therapists worked alternating shifts to provide round the clock care to the patients who needed it most. Watch the video below or access it directly (Link).
Hutchinson Regional Medical Center
Hutchinson Regional Medical Center is a not-for-profit, 190-licensed bed, acute-care hospital serving the health needs of the more than 65,000 residents of Reno county and the surrounding communities in Kansas. The wider healthcare system also includes a mental health center, hospice and home care as well as a home medical equipment supply company. As the largest employer in the county, with 1,350 employees, being an active part of the community is a top priority.
Leveraging Community Partnerships Makes a Big Impact
The leadership at Hutchinson Regional Medical Center has always played an active part in the community. Sitting on several boards, volunteer work and a strong voice in the local political arena prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic laid the foundation for relationships and community connections that would be crucial to the health system’s response. An aggressive media campaign through newspapers, news outlets, billboards and social media made them the go-to trusted resource for all things COVID-19 related. These things combined with the inclusive hospital culture and ability to remain agile in the face of adversity, make Hutchinson Regional Medical Center a shining example of successful COVID-19 response and vaccination strategies. Watch the video below or access it directly (Link).
Washington County Hospital and Clinics
For over 100 years, Washington County Hospital and Clinics has been providing healthcare services to Washington County and the surrounding community residents in Iowa. The campus has grown to include a 22-bed CAH, outpatient pharmacy and five outpatient clinics.
Swift Action Drives Successful COVID-19 Response
Washington County Hospital and Clinics remained agile throughout the pandemic and were able to implement a variety of best practices with community collaborations and swift program and policy changes. At the beginning of March, an incident commander was identified who became the driving force behind many of the process changes. Some of the innovations included implemented the ability for some non-clinical staff (i.e., human resources, finance, scheduling) to work from home in 72 hours, used their electronic medical record to initiate telemedicine capability in 24 hours, amplified COVID-19 testing by splitting one test into two with the help of the local high school’s chemistry equipment, hospital foundation raised money for the pandemic response including $30,000 to purchase masks and $10,000 for AIRVOS (breathing vents). Watch the video below or access it directly (Link).
Dallas County Hospital
Dallas County Hospital, a 25-bed CAH, was the first to have a community spread identified COVID-19 inpatient case in Iowa. This Iowa CAH is recognized as one of the few “COVID-19 Designated Hospitals,” because they have consistently implemented COVID-19 best practices to protect both their staff and patients.
Driving a Successful Vaccination Campaign
Dallas County Hospital has been a COVID-19 response leader within the MercyOne health system in Iowa for their willingness to care for positive patients and ability to do so safely. It comes as no surprise that they would also set an example for the community on how to implement a successful vaccination campaign. As many hospitals have done, vaccination started with the staff, but at Dallas County the vaccine is completely optional and there is no pressure for staff to accept it. Hospital leaders were among the first to be vaccinated and set an example for others. The hospital has offered staff written education on the vaccine but reports that most impactful moments are the conversations held during staff huddles or in one-on-one conversations. Cindy Peeler, COO believes it is very important to approach staff with genuine curiosity and desire to understand the staff point of view. By the second week of February, 90% of the staff at Dallas County Hospital had voluntarily received their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The hospital is fully prepared to begin vaccinating the public within days of receiving the vaccine. Their plan includes pre-identification of high-risk patients, using the current outpatient clinic schedule to their advantage, and designating an appropriate physical space to vaccinate while maintaining social distancing. Watch the video below or access it directly (Link).