Emory Report
January 29, 2007
Volume 59, Number 17

Emory Report homepage  

January 29 , 2007
Emory Healthcare

by sarah goodwin

The new Emory University Hospital neuro critical care unit, opening in February, is a nationally distinctive demonstration of Emory Healthcare’s dedication to patients and their families.

To design the new unit, faculty and administrators assembled a team, including family members of former patients, neurologists, critical care nurses, pharmacists, social workers and health care design experts.
“With increasingly larger numbers of critically ill patients requiring long hospital stays, we are addressing the needs of patients and their families by adding a patient- and family-friendly environment for neurocritical care,” said Owen Samuels, assistant professor of neurosurgery. “This unit will allow the healthcare team to perform procedures at the bedside without having to transport fragile patients to other parts of the hospital.”

Delivering outstanding patient care is one of the guiding principles for Emory Healthcare. EHC is dedicated in equal measure to training healthcare professionals for the future, pursuing discovery research and clinical innovation, and serving the community. The components of EHC’s mission are highly interrelated. For example, implementing computerized physician order entries is a substantial investment in high-quality patient care of the 21st century. EHC has devoted thousands of hours of faculty and staff time to its Emory Electronic Medical Record project, a multi-year, $50 million initiative.

The newest component of the EeMR project is a system that allows physicians to enter orders into a computer at the patient’s bedside or in clinical exam rooms. Its goal is to reduce errors and improve communication among members of the healthcare team; improvement in both areas benefits patients.
EHC, focusing on improving quality, has created a new Office of Quality with an expanded team of experts based in the Emory Hospitals and The Emory Clinic. The Office of Quality team, working under the direction of the new EHC Quality Council and the Patient Quality Committee of the EHC Board, has identified high-priority breakthrough projects, selected because of their projected impact on improving quality.

In addition, the Office of Quality is leading a series of projects using an approach called “Lean.” Lean is adopted from the Toyota Production System and focuses relentlessly on eliminating waste and improving value for the patient.

This year, Susan Grant joined EHC as new chief nursing officer. She has introduced shared governance and is providing leadership for its implementation. Shared governance is a process and structure that facilitates communication and optimizes the practicing clinician’s participation in decision-making. A myriad of multidisciplinary practice councils throughout Emory Healthcare are now engaging and promoting ownership of clinical quality, safety and patient care, improving clinical practice and job satisfaction.

With an ongoing drive to provide superior patient care, EHC continues its recent engagement in a process to gain recognition for excellence in nursing care from the American Nurses Credentialing Center Magnet Recognition Program. Magnet designation identifies EHC as an organization with a proven level of excellence in nursing care.

“Magnet is a roadmap for nursing care quality and excellence,” said Grant. “It’s about continuously raising the bar of excellence throughout the whole organization with an emphasis on interdisciplinary teamwork which results in outstanding patient outcomes. Magnet designation is also a proven strategy that helps attract and retain top talent in the health care work force.”

The Emory Hospitals have launched the Palliative Care Program designed to enhance quality of life for patients suffering from serious, chronic or terminal conditions. This effort is now linked into a WHSC-wide strategic planning effort focused on integration of clinical and academic pursuits related to palliative care. The multidisciplinary program includes guidance from medicine, nursing, public health and theology, as well as the Center for Ethics.

This month, EHC opened Emory Johns Creek Hospital, a 110-bed hospital located in north Fulton County. The hospital, a joint business venture with HCA, offers a full range of services.

With an eye to long-term growth, EHC is planning the next steps for facilities and programs system-wide. A $240 million gift from the Woodruff Foundation in late 2006 will support modernization and transformation of The Emory Clinic. Plans call for a combination of patient, research and office space designed to integrate research and clinical care in an “Ideal Patient Experience,” from parking, arrival and check-in to examination, treatment and patient discharge. Supported by the power of translational research, this will enable EHC to create a new world-class standard for health care.