Michelle A. Stafford-Brown, RN, MSN, ACNS-BC, director of education at the Medical Center of Arlington in Texas, said she started planning her quality improvement program for the hospital while she was interviewing for her current position.
Now a year into her new job, Stafford-Brown has developed a program based on the philosophy of the elite special operations force of the U.S. Navys Sea, Air and Land Teams, aka Navy SEALs, that focuses on hard work, training and commitment to tasks.
“Everyone knows Navy SEALs are top of the line — the best one can offer,” she said. “Im borrowing from the military those principles of excellence in execution of task, communication, leadership and service delivery and applying them to our clinical care.”Loretta Robertson, RN
The SEAL acronym at MCA stands for Skills of Excellence and Accountability and Leadership team. One hundred staff-level employees from every department in the hospital have been chosen to be leaders in improving patient outcomes as measured by existing clinical indicators of quality and patient satisfaction at the hospital.
The program kicked off in March, when team members were given MCA SEAL pins to wear while at work. Monthly meetings include a teaching segment on communication and announcements of new equipment or protocols by each department. Everyone leaves with a specific assignment and a date to report back. The program already has expanded education and communication at the hospital, said Loretta Robertson, RN, BSN, clinical nurse expert of surgical services.
“In the past, the education department was not responsible for unit-specific orientation,” she said. “There was no consistency, no plan. Now every department has preceptors and mentors from the SEAL program that meet on a regular basis, and what they learn will filter down to all employees.”
Specific outcomes will be measured quarterly in the program and will focus on patient satisfaction studies as well as assessing safety, infection rates, falls and other measures, Stafford-Brown said. Benchmark data will start with the hospitals first Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems scores.James Simpson, RN
HCAHPS scores — part of healthcare reform — will be compiled by the federal government based on assessments of patient satisfaction, which will affect reimbursement rates for Medicare. Third-party insurers are expected to follow the federal governments reimbursement policy.
“We plan to bring peoples attention to the details of what is going on in their departments,” Stafford-Brown said. “We want the SEALs to inspire managers and directors and staff — to be the spark to catch this professional way of acting for everybody.”
Much of the results of the program will be patient-focused, Stafford-Brown said.
Helping patients with pain management, reacting quickly to call lights going on, even just speaking to the patient when you remove a meal tray are all important ways to connect with the patient and make sure their needs are being met, she said.
“Things important to the patient and to families are not always important to the staff,” she said. “There is a big mismatch there.”
James Simpson, RN, service coordinator for surgical services and a member of the SEAL team, said the program should have a huge impact on the staff. “Too often people are thrown into working the units without enough preparation,” he said. “They arent given everything they need to be successful. This program provides a basis for success.”