UnityPoint rakes in awards

UnityPoint locations in Marshalltown are racking up awards this year, all of which have to do with patient care and patient satisfaction.

The Wound Healing Center has become a model of patient care consistency.

The Wound Healing Center is one of three centers (one in Oregon and one in California) out of 600 in the healogics western zone, to win the President’s Circle Award for 2020 in Clinical Excellence in Patient Satisfaction and Clinical Outcomes.

“All of us were ecstatic. I think everybody squealed a little scream and did a jump for joy,” Program Director Tia Bacon said. “We were, in a sense almost relieved, we were working so hard for that because we know that getting it three times in five years is unheard of.”

She said our staff are very dedicated to patients, to community and to our careers. “This isn’t just a job for any of us here,” Bacon said. “This is our lifestyle, our way of life and we all thoroughly value and enjoy helping and just making our community strive.”

Bacon said one of the keys to a quick healing time is frequency of visits.

“We have some studies that show that if you are seen weekly, you will heal at a faster rate, and there is a greater chance of healing you,” she said.

For Bacon, winning this award meant a little more to her personally. Last year, she was promoted from manager to program director.

Bacon said winning the award this year also meant more because it came in the midst of a pandemic.

“Our numbers were down, our percent of patients coming in were down and so to see that we still met all of our goals met our healing goals, our financial goals, everything, even though we may be only seeing 75 percent of our normal patient load,” Bacon said.

Bacon said the Wound Healing Center was even able to maintain its healing rate percentage.

Bacon said patient satisfaction is the main pillar for patient care at the center.

“That’s something that we very much strive for here at the Wound Healing Center and with that goes decreasing wait times,” she said. “If they are [waiting a long time] just being very open and transparent with them on what’s going on.”

Getting to know patients on a personal level is a major factor in a medical place’s satisfaction rating which is something Bacon has emphasized.

“We try to connect with our patients on a personal level. So something that I do as a director here is I strive for my staff to identify something they learned about a patient every single day that has nothing related to their wounds, something very personal so that we can get to know our patients,” Bacon said.

In addition to the Wound Healing Center winning an award, five providers in the Emergency Department’s performances were described as “top-of-nation” in 2020 by the “Doctors Domain” metrics through Press Ganey.

Brandy Reints, ARNP; McKenzie Cooper, PA-C, Mackenzie Stueck, PA-C; Lance VanGundy, MD; and Blaine Westermeyer, M.D., were the providers in the UnityPoint Emergency Department ranked in the top 2 percent in the “Doctors Domain” database by Press Ganey.

According to Laura Woebekking, director of patient care at Allen Hospital, the improvement in patient care is not just limited to these five but the entire emergency department.

“The Emergency Department has shown tremendous improvement since 2018,” Woebekking said. “We’ve gone from being in the 34th percentile to being in the top 10 percentile as a department.”

She attributes a lot of the department’s success to Van Gundy.

“He’s a great role model and he truly inspires others,” Woebekking said.

On the Press Ganey scores, Woebekking said these five scored in the top 2 percent, with Van Gundy leading the way at 1 percent and the entire emergency department finishing in the top 10 percentile.

The Emergency Department gets patient feedback via direct conversations, survey responses or from concerns expressed to management. Woebekking said the main way the emergency department receives feedback from patients is through surveys.

“You can really learn a lot from them,” Woebekking said. “It allows us to look at the processes to see what’s working and what’s not.”

A long wait time is what Woebekking said is the most common concern the patients express. In spite of that, the surveys have come back mostly positive during the past year.

“I think the Marshalltown Emergency Department rose to the top,” she said.

Woebekking said the emergency department made the patients feel at ease and the department was focused even more on quality patient experience. That focus showed in the survey results which gave the honors to the emergency department physicians.

Due to privacy laws, Woebekking said she doesn’t have close contact, but the survey results show a “notion of empathy.” She said this kind of empathy is one of the pillars of the “you matter” message from Unity Point.

Stephanie Mitchell, an RN in the Emergency Department, took home the DAISY Award.

The award has been given out since 1999 and is meant to recognize and say thank you to excellent nurses who go above and beyond.

Mitchell was nominated by a patient who came into the ER in March with life-threatening complications from a thyroidectomy and had swelling and pain in her neck. Mitchell and the Emergency Room team conducted a CT scan and intubated the patient before she was air-lifted to Iowa City for further treatment.

“I knew when I laid eyes on this particular patient that I needed to move quickly and get the physician at the bedside immediately,” Mitchell said. “I also knew that I needed to remain calm, in order to keep them calm, as well as their family member.”

After receiving treatment in Iowa City, the patient was told by doctors if she did not receive treatment at that time, she would’ve run the risk of passing away.

According to Director of Nursing Jen Arneson, this type of efficient and effective care is not unusual coming from Mitchell.

“I was not shocked at all when I found out she won the award,” Arneson said. “This isn’t anything different from what she normally does.”

Mitchell treats her patients like she would want members of her family to be treated.

Arneson said the emergency department as a whole strives to leave a positive impact on its patients and that’s what Mitchell did in this case, leading to her being honored with the DAISY Award, which is just one of many awards UnityPoint workers have gained in the past year.

Contact Sam Stuve at 641-753-6611 or at sstuve@timesrepublican.com


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