In a series of town hall meetings, Mark Biscone, president and chief executive officer of Waldo County Healthcare and Pen Bay Healthcare, said repeatedly, “This is not a merger. It is a creation of a new parent company. While the hospital Boards of Directors will merge, the two hospital corporations will remain as separate entities.”
That shared parent organization will likely not be created until the end of 2015 due to state Certificate of Need requirements. He said a meeting has been set with the state to discuss whether a Certificate of Need is really necessary. “We will be negotiating and hopefully will have it issued before the end of the year.”
The new joint board will have 24 members, with equal numbers from both present boards in the beginning. There will also be term limits and staggered terms. The maximum time a board member could serve consecutively would be 10 years.
A medical collaboration committee has been formed to review various collaboration options for the medical staffs of Pen Bay and Waldo with six members from each medical staff. The first meeting of that group will be July 16.
He said eight months into the fiscal year; both hospitals are in the black from operations, helped in part by $1.6 million in increased revenue and decreased costs from the 44 areas where collaboration has taken place.
In other details, Biscone said:
• Both hospitals are looking to expand their Emergency Departments.
• Work is being done on adding crisis beds through Maine Behavioral Health to help keep those in non-life threatening mental health crisis situations out of the Emergency Departments.
• In 1978, there were 50 acute care hospitals in Maine -now there are 33.
• He hopes to have 50 areas of collaboration by the end of the year. Many of the suggestions for areas of collaboration are coming from the front line co-workers.
• Physician recruitment, especially of specialists, is easier with the collaboration, because of the increased population for the specialists to serve.
Vascular surgeon, midwife, female gynecologist added
Waldo County Healthcare is pleased to announce the expansion of surgical, gynecological and obstetric services.
Vascular surgeon Julie White, MD, a Pen Bay Medical Center physician, is now accepting new patients at the Waldo County Cardiovascular office in Belfast. Her vascular surgery practice addresses Peripheral Artrial Disease; Carotid Artery Disease; Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm and spider and varicose veins. To make an appointment, call 921-5737. She will be seeing patients in Suite 210 at 116 Northport Ave.
OB/GYN Jennifer McKenna, MD, a Pen Bay Medical Center physician, is now accepting new gynecological patients at Waldo County OB/GYN, Belfast. She is certified by the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology. To make an appointment, call 338-9939. She will see patients in Suite 108 of the Cobb Medical Building, 16 Fahey St.
Stephanie D. Cole, Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), will begin seeing patients full time on July 20 at Waldo County OB/GYN, Belfast. She received her Certificate in Midwifery and Masters in Nursing from the Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing in Hyden, Kentucky, in 2009. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Magna Cum Laude, from the University of Massachusetts in Boston in 1998. She has previously practiced as a Certified Nurse Midwife at Central Maine Medical Center and at Bangor OB/GYN’s private practice at Eastern Maine Medical Center. She will see patients in Suite 108 of the Cobb Medical Building, 16 Fahey St. To make an appointment, call 338-9939.
If you happen to be at Waldo County General Hospital on a weekday around 8 am, you may see a small group of hospital employees, led by a member of the administrative team, going into an office, emerging a couple of minutes later, walking quickly to another office, and coming out again.
What could possibly happen during a two-minute visit that is worth the time of those on the walk?
It is a program called “Waldo Walks,” a management tool that was first created by Toyota called “Lean Daily Management.” That management tool has now been adopted by a number of healthcare facilities across the country.
Each department picks two Key Performance Indicators (KPI) or as one Waldo Walks leader said,“Fixing things that are Keeping People Irritated that need work.” These KPIs are posted on a large board in each department. Whether the KPI was met is also posted each day—in green if met, red if not and black if not encountered that day. The results from the previous day are filled in before the walkers arrive.
During the daily walk, a department employee explains why the goal was met or not met the day before; if it wasn’t met what is being done to increase the odds that it will be met the next day. It’s not about finding someone to blame but rather is about accountability.
For example, in one department, a great deal of time was being spent with re-scheduling issues. Turns out the template put in place during a change in the electronic medical records wasn’t working right and a new one needed to be built. The template was easily rebuilt, the problem took care of itself.
In another department, there was frustration over an employee often being a few minutes late for work, which put extra stress on the other employees to get everything completed in time; re-stocking the blanket warming machine was a KPI in another department while in another it was re-stocking the shelves before leaving for the day. All three of those KPIs have now been retired because they are no longer a problem. Sometimes just pointing out how not
The goal is to “move barriers and get things done.”
Sometimes the problem is a lack of communication between departments. For example, one department was having trouble with another over whether oxygen was authorized for a patient. Turns out before the new electronic medical records, the ordering of oxygen on the paperwork was checked and had to be crossed out if not needed. With the new system, the order for oxygen had to be marked on the computer. Once the problem was discovered, a change was made to the computer program and oxygen is once again on the orders unless it is removed.
Keeping the turnover timely in the operating room is another KPI currently in place and it depends on coordination between several departments. Following a surgery, the room needs to be cleaned, and the next patient needs to be ready to go. That goal is being met on a much more regular basis; now that everyone has been reminded of their role and how keeping the turnover on schedule affects staff and patients.
The goal is to see a long-term trend of the KPIs being accomplished, not just for a couple of days or weeks. So far, the average time before a KPI is
Employees are also encouraged to share items they would like to see addressed when new KPIs are adopted.
The hospital started Waldo County Walks with six departments and has now added another six, eventually all departments will be included.
Chief Quality Officer Rob Fowler said, “Waldo Walks is taking the hospital one step closer toward a culture of continuous quality improvement. Even though this endeavor is still very new to Waldo, we are already seeing great outcomes. We are seeing a lot of great work from staff collecting data, presenting at the board daily and effectively making change.”
He added that leadership is really committed to the process and enjoy getting out to the departments daily. Besides getting an update on their KPIs, Fowler said the administrators on the walk are able to help with anything else a department may need for that day.
The bottom line for Waldo Walks is for administrators to go where the work is being done and to see and hear what can be done to eliminate waste, whether it’s a waste of time, intellect, motion or materials, which should result in happier patients and employees.
Waldo County Healthcare’s Shannon Robbins, Director of Community Health, will be presenting to the National Rural Health Association’s 14th Critical Access Hospital conference in Kansas City, Missouri, on Oct. 2. Her educational session is titled, “Hospital Owned Dental Clinic—a unique initiative in Maine.”
She will talk about Waldo County Dental Care, the only safety net dental clinic in Waldo County. The discussion will demonstrate the importance of unique strategic partnerships among the executive team, hospital staff, private dentists and the community to address the unmet public health need.
At the end of the session, attendees will see why hospitals need to include dental into their medical plan, and be able to identify opportunities to improve patient outcomes and foster collaboration between public and private sectors.
Robbins’ submission was one of 15 selected from 88 proposed.
Waldo County Dental Care is just two years old and is having a significant impact on the lives of low income, uninsured adults living in Waldo County. The clinic helps people with urgent dental needs, while stressing dental preventative care.
Through the collaborative efforts of Waldo County General Hospital, private community dentists, Pen Bay Healthcare and the Knox County Dental Clinic, the clinic has served 700 low income and uninsured individuals in the community. Since the introduction of this service, the emergency department has seen a 14% reduction in dental patients.
While she is at the conference, Robbins will also represent Waldo County General Hospital, recognized as one of the Top 20 Critical Access Hospitals in the country.
The DAISY Award is an international program that rewards and celebrates the extraordinary clinical skill and compassionate care given by nurses every day. Honorees are recognized as outstanding role models in the nursing community. Waldo County Healthcare joined the program this past spring.
Waldo County Healthcare is now proud to announce the first recipient of the Daisy Award: ICU nurse Kitty Higgins.
Nominations for this award can be submitted by colleagues or patients. Kitty was nominated by two former patients.One patient wrote that Kitty is an incredible nurse who offers all of her patients skill, competence, tough-love kindness and a “can do” attitude. Her willingness to go the extra mile was what made her rise to the top; she stayed on an extra four hours to take care of me. Then she came back in the next morning just as bright and ready as the day before. I knew I was in good hands. Kitty Higgins truly represents the best of the nursing profession.
The second nominator wrote, “My Mom was a patient in Kitty’s care. Kitty was a thoughtful and compassionate listener and advocate. She went out of her way to help me coordinate services and put us at ease.”
Waldo County Healthcare had a total of 12 Daisy Award nominees. They were: Laura Irish, Sandy Byrd, Franki Gillett, Carol Knight, Colleen Wynn, Cate Bryant, Ashley Bryant, Sue Dupler, Kristin Jacobson, Hannah Scribner and Maureen Foye.
Heather Quesnel, Chief Nursing Officer at Waldo County General Hospital, said she is proud to be a DAISY Award partner because ”excellence is in the eye of the beholder -the patient. This award gives our patients and families an active and very public way of saying to a nurse that the care provided made a lasting difference. Nurses don’t expect to be recognized but they deserve to be recognized.”
The Hospital Aid will hold a summer tea on Thursday, August 6, from 2 pm to 5 pm at the home of Barbara Plummer, Shore Road, Northport. Attendees can enjoy refreshments at the home with spectacular views of Penobscot Bay. The first floor will be open to tours with its lovely seaside decor. Attendees will be shuttled to the home from the Drinkwater School, 56 Bayside Rd., Northport, as parking is not allowed on Shore Road. Donations will be accepted to benefit Waldo County General Hospital.
Robert Porter, 31, of Belmont has always been a bit of a daredevil. He even had to leave the military seven years ago because of an injury. Over the last few years, he’s had broken bones, torn knee muscles and head injuries; now he’s living with the consequences. The head injuries he suffered led to a seizure disorder, sometimes as many as 60 seizures in three days. During those seizures, he was prone to grind his teeth.
Many of his teeth were badly damaged and he has suffered with 17 abscesses during those five years. The pain was so intense that he drained many of the abscesses himself and pulled out a couple of teeth.
Porter says he couldn’t find anyone to help him. The insurance he had with his disability coverage wouldn’t pay to fix his teeth. Other dentists he checked with weren’t willing to put him under general anesthesia to remove what remained of his teeth because of his seizures.
Several other times, he says he was looked at like he was a drug user because of the state of his teeth. When he did find a dentist willing to work with him, he couldn’t afford the cost.
Meanwhile, nobody would hire him for a job he could do because of how bad his teeth were.
Three years ago, he got engaged but maintained he wasn’t going to get married until he could smile in his wedding pictures.
He was assisted locally by his primary care provider, Paul Mazur MD, who recommended he contact Waldo County Dental Care at Waldo County Healthcare. Then he met Mandy Hood and Michelle Gallant, members of the dental team, who connected him to their network of area voluntary dental providers.
This unique partnership allowed Porter to receive help from local dentist John Lewis DDS and Bruce Spaulding of Coastal Prosthetics Dental Lab. They were also able to connect with Phillip Higgins DMD, who extracted Porter’s remaining 22 teeth at Eastern Maine Medical Center.
While Spaulding was making the dentures, Porter spent several hours in the lab with him and he remembers Spaulding saying he was going to make the dentures out of the strongest material available for dentures. While Porter is still getting used to his new dentures, he is quick to add, “It’s a better pain than feeling sick from the infections.”
Porter is hopeful with his new smile that he might be able to get a job where he doesn’t have to do heavy lifting but rather gets to interact with people.
His fiancé is thrilled with the new smile and after three years, they have set a wedding date.
“Honestly,” Porter says, “these guys, Mandy, Michelle, the dentists, his doctor and Spaulding, have been great. I can’t thank them enough for how much they’re done. They are very good people and I would recommend them to anyone.”