Bothwell Regional Health Center is working to be designated as a Level III Trauma Center, Level III Stroke Center, and Level III STEMI Center to provide better services for the community.
Bothwell’s Board of Trustees endorsed the hospital’s applications during an August board meeting. Since then, the hospital staff has been working on applications and being surveyed.
According to Bothwell Chief Executive Officer Lori Wightman, the systems for the designations were set up to standardize how patients are consistently handled across the state in hospitals. Wightman explained when the state started the designations, hospitals were allowed to self-declare and get designated at a certain level; Bothwell didn’t do so.
Wightman said a big reason for getting the certifications is to standardize the hospital’s processes. The processes that go with the certifications have a big emphasis on time and standardization. There is also more coordination between ambulances and Bothwell.
“I think it was validating the care we had been providing, but also to standardize that care as well around every patient, every time and start measuring times,” Wightman said.
“Any kind of certification or designation just puts a certain level of discipline around the care and keeps us ever vigilant...It helps standardize the approach across the entire country really using the best-known practices. To help us stay abreast of the best practices because we’re always learning when it comes to better coordination or delivery of care.”
Time Critical Diagnosis Coordinator Brenda Sprinkle said the hospital has been offering services for stroke, trauma, and STEMI (ST-elevation myocardial infarction), which is a serious type of heart attack, but it simply doesn’t have the official designation.
“I can’t say that absolutely the EKGS within 10 minutes have been done but once a heart attack or STEMI is identified then the patients get transferred in a timely manner,” she said. “The goal for all of this is just getting our patients where they need to be in a timely manner.”
Sprinkle said the requirements for the certifications also include medical staff education at the hospital and outreach requirements for the community. Patients should expect to see more community outreach and education from Bothwell.
The hospital has also revamped its emergency department and trauma committees.
“We are doing debriefs and reviews of trauma cases with everyone at the table whether that’s air ambulance, ground ambulance, the ED people, the general surgeons, reviewing cases with the objective of learning,” she explained. “It’s how can we elevate the level of care that we’re providing trauma patients with. Whether we keep them or stabilize them and do a warm hand off to a higher level place.”
Wightman said once the hospital receives its accreditations patients will experience the “exact same things in the exact same times” no matter what day or time they come in for one of the three certified problems. She said another goal is to help keep patients closer to home in the case of minor trauma. In the case of a stroke, serious trauma, or STEMI, the issue would be identified, the patient would be stabilized, and then taken to a higher level facility.
“We just want our community to know there’s a hospital that they can come to, they don't have to leave our area to get the treatment that they need...” she explained. “What we’re saying to our patients is once we’ve been reviewed by outside reviewers and we have that designation there’s really no better way to treat somebody having a heart attack or a stroke or a trauma than here. That’s what national standards mean. If you're meeting those there’s no better way.”
Patients should also expect to see more community outreach and education from the hospital.
After each application is submitted the hospital has to be surveyed by a third party. The staff is then given a list of recommended changes. The changes must be completed and resubmitted.
Bothwell submitted its trauma application at the end of October and expects to be surveyed in March or April. The STEMI application is also in progress.
At the September board meeting, Chief Nursing Officer Rose McMullin said the hospital had its stroke survey and received three recommendations it will have to correct out of roughly 1,000 standards. McMullin said the surveyor was “very complimentary of the staff and our processes.” The hospital has sent in its corrections, according to Wightman, and she expects to hear back by mid-November.