Stepped-Up Patient Safety Efforts Help Lead to Record Births at Franciscan St. Anthony Health

Stepped-up-Patient-Safety-Efforts-Help-Lead-to-Record-Births-at-Franciscan-St-Anthony-HealthIncreased obstetrics unit patient safety initiatives are credited among the factors that led to Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Crown Point recording its highest-ever number of births, 1,663, in 2014.

“The record number can be attributed to our safety initiatives, growing reputation, patient satisfaction, good outcomes and a phenomenal staff. In the last six months, we have noted a decrease in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit volumes, which also shows the initiatives are effective,” said Kathy Podorsek, director of the unit, called The Birth Place. The hospital opened in 1974.

Emergency simulation drills and 24-hour obstetrician, anesthesiologist and neonatologist coverage provide vital services faster than in days past, when an expectant mother had to wait for her physician to arrive, or be taken to a surgical unit, to deliver her baby naturally, or to have a C-section. The hospital also has at the ready maternal fetal medicine physicians to handle high-risk patients.

Faster action is especially vital when an emergency arises.

“Sometimes, we would have to wait 30 minutes, which is a lot of time when there is an emergency. Now, we can respond much faster. The onsite physician can start the process until the patient’s regular doctor arrives,” Podorsek pointed out, adding the hospital undertook the initiatives of its own volition, ahead of them being required in 2016 as part of Indiana Perinatal Guidelines that aim to reduce the infant mortality rate.

“We were the only hospital in the state to voluntarily seek an evaluation and only one of six to serve as a pilot program for the guidelines. The state reviewed our policies, toured the unit and evaluated the in-house people we have to respond to emergencies. We await the outcome of their study and already have complied with the majority of the new guidelines,” Podorsek said.

Also, at less than 10 minutes, Podorsek said the hospital is ahead of American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists standards, which call for C-sections to be performed no more than 30 minutes after the decision for the procedure is made.

Nursing staff members are scrubbing in and serving as C-section circulators to provide immediate emergency responses.

“The circulators prepare patients for surgery, count the instruments and sponges, etc., things an operating room nurse would do – they fill the role of the surgical staff. This eliminates the wait time, since the staff is onsite,” said Toni Gershman, unit nurse manager.

As patient volumes grow, the unit has been adding staff. It now offers eight obstetrics physicians and two midwives and three NICU physicians and two nurse practitioners. The unit has 84 nurses, 13 technicians and three lactation consultants.

Staff members hear numerous kudos from patients and families, according to Podorsek and Karen Reno, NICU manager.

“The parents say they really appreciate the personal attention and compassionate they get here, compared to hospitals in the city (Chicago), which are often impersonal and don’t encourage parents to participate as much in the baby’s care while they are there,” Reno said, adding, “They say they have a wonderful experience here.”

Kathy Camp, a registered nurse for 35 years in the unit, marveled at the advancements she has seen in that time.

“We have come so far and offer so much more. It truly is a service to our parents and babies.”

For more information on The Birth Place, call (219) 757-6330.

“We have come so far and offer so much more. It truly is a service to our parents and babies.”