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St. Joseph Hospital awarded $35K for patient safety initiative

Tory Starr, SJH Director of Quality and Infection Control, left, receives a check for $35,000 from Cardinal Health Foundation representative Phyllis Jarrett.St. Joseph Hospital (SJH) has been awarded $35,000 from the Cardinal Health Foundation for new and innovative programs to improve patient safety. One of only 35 grant recipients nationwide, SJH will use the grant for its Care Transitions program, an initiative that helps facilitate patients’ transition from the hospital setting back home following hospitalization.

The grant is intended to provide funding for programs that implement creative and replicable methods to improve the quality of patient care.

"The potential for errors to occur is great during transition of care," said Tory Starr, regional director of performance improvement and quality management for St. Joseph Health - Humboldt County. "This grant will enable us to expand our Care Transitions program, helping patients transition from the hospital to their home setting."

St. Joseph Hospital launched the program in 2007 in collaboration with HSU’s Department of Nursing after finding common ground. HSU was looking for clinical placements for its senior-level nursing students and the hospital needed highly educated students to serve as "coaches" for discharged patients.

Student-nurses make initial contact with patients identified as good candidates for the program, then follow up with them at home after they are discharged. The student-nurses help patients sort through their medication list, note any questions they may have, and help them contact their primary care physician to get answers.

Both students and patients benefit from the Care Transitions program: students work with qualified professionals and gain first-hand experience in their field while patients learn to take control of their medications and health care in general.

Also key to the program’s funding is the California HealthCare Foundation, which provided initial support for the collaboration between the health system and HSU, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s "Aligning Forces for Quality" initiative.

The primary criterion for awarding the Cardinal Health Foundation grants was that the recipients use the funds to address the National Quality Forum’s priority areas, specifically concentrating on the following areas:

• Eliminating health care associated infections (HAIs), specifically MRSA and C. difficile infection prevention and management, with the goal of taking ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), surgical site infections (SSI) and blood site infections (BSI) to zero.

• Medication safety and reconciliation in forms ranging from prescribing correct medication to ensuring the right medication gets to the right patient at the right time and assuring information is communicated and understood at key transition points.

"Medication safety and health care associated infections are two of the largest patient safety issues that health care organizations face every day, and the human toll and financial burden is escalating," said Shelley Bird, chair of the Cardinal Health Foundation. "The Cardinal Health Foundation is committed to improving the overall effectiveness of health care, and we’re proud to support these institutions that are enhancing patient safety and the quality of care."

For more information about the Care Transitions program at St. Joseph and Redwood Memorial Hospitals, contact Sharon Hunter at (707) 445-8121, ext. 5750.

Caption: Tory Starr, St. Joseph Hospital Director of Quality and Infection Control, left, receives a check for $35,000 from Cardinal Health Foundation representative Phyllis Jarrett.

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