Acuity Specialty Hospital Of New Jersey Celebrates National Patient Safety Awareness

Share Article

Acuity Specialty Hospital of New Jersey celebrates by Reflecting on Its Culture of Safety

National Patient Safety Foundation Patient Safety Awareness Week is celebrated March 8th - 14th. This year’s theme, “United in Safety,” is a nod to the importance of including every hospital team member, family member, and patient in the patient safety planning process. In conjunction with Acuity Specialty Hospital of New Jersey’s recent five year anniversary, the hospital took the time to celebrate improvements made toward their goal of being united in safety.

To commemorate the occasion, a newsletter was sent to all staff detailing the significant progress made on key patient safety indicators over the past five years, as well as plans for the upcoming year. In addition, the hospital kicked off a contest called “Random Acts of Safety,” in which staff members were encouraged to nominate their peers for demonstrating a creative commitment to patient safety. At Acuity, the culture of safety starts at the top. The Board of Advisors, the hospital’s governing body, receives a detailed patient safety report at each meeting. The Board also reviews and ultimately has the authority to approve every new patient safety process.

Chief Executive Officer Monica Titus, MBA, BSN, RN explains, “here at Acuity Specialty Hospital of New Jersey, there simply is nothing more important in overseeing a hospital than ensuring it is as safe as possible for the patients. As health care workers, we hold a sacred trust – our patients trust us with their lives and their family members trust us with their loved ones. Nothing we do is more important than working to ensure the safest environment possible for our patients. Patient safety is every patient's right and everyone's responsibility.”

Haitham Dib, MD, FACC, has served as the hospital’s Medical Director for Performance Improvement and Patient Safety since the hospital opened in November 2009. During that time, he has worked closely with Patient Safety Officer, Jenn Trallo Schreiber, MSN, MBA, RN, to support the hospital’s patient safety goals. “Here at Acuity, care providers, executive leaders, and clinical staff are all committed to achieving ‘zero harm’ while providing highly reliable care,” says Dib. A leadership commitment to safety is paramount, but that commitment alone is not enough. An infrastructure has to be in place to support the commitment.

Director of Quality Management, Michelle Colligan, BSN, RN, states, “all of us in the Quality Department strive to help give the staff the tools they need to deliver safe, quality care for all patients.” Policies, forms, educational resources, equipment, supplies and other tools have to be both available and easily accessible to staff to ensure that best practice safety processes become second nature. The safest way to do things has to be the easiest way.

Annually, every hospital employee and contracted service partner is invited to participate in an anonymous Patient Safety Culture Survey which traditionally kicks off during Patient Safety Awareness Week. Results of this survey are benchmarked against the hospital’s own prior performance and that of thousands of other hospitals across the country. This data is used to identify opportunities to strengthen the hospital’s culture of safety.

In addition to the annual Patient Safety Culture Survey, the interdisciplinary leadership team gains understanding about the hospital’s patient safety needs through collaboration with each other, and the staff on an ongoing basis. Every suggestion for improvement is carefully considered. Recent large scale improvement projects which have resulted from this collaboration include a new Comfort Care program, a transition to bedside telemetry monitoring, in addition to remote telemetry monitoring, an improved Fall Risk Assessment tool with interventions, and the implementation of a Value Analysis Committee.

The hospital underwent a complete cosmetic renovation in 2014 with patient safety as the primary focus of the project. The team took considerable time to ensure that the newly renovated rooms were designed to support the hospital’s patient safety goals. They include specialized safety lighting, a color change in floor tile to delineate “clean” versus “contaminated” areas and innovative signage both inside and outside the patient rooms that is personalized to communicate each patient’s specific safety needs.

In a 30-bed hospital, creativity is key in building the administrative, clinical and environmental patient safety infrastructure. Solutions that make sense in a larger hospital don’t always translate well to a small organization. However, being small does have its advantages. The hospital can be very nimble when implementing new processes or responding to changes in clinical outcomes data and the leadership team is there to support staff by removing barriers to the rapid implementation of best practice processes.

Chief Clinical Officer, Kathy Kerstetter, MSN, RN, ACNP-C, oversees all clinical operations within the hospital and is excited about the recent projects which have been realized with staff participation. She explained, “there has been an increase in staff awareness regarding the [patient safety] processes.” Direct care staff can see how these interventions improve outcomes, which increases compliance with the interventions themselves.

Infection Control Practitioner, Melissa Szarzynski, BSN, RN, agrees, “we have definitely seen an increase in staff participation and they are taking ownership of the improved outcomes. The team takes pride in delivering excellent care.”

This theme is echoed by the hospital’s Director of Case Management, Christa Fries, MSW, “I watch [my team] go above and beyond every day, whether it’s coming in early, staying late or coming in on the weekends to work on their patient caseloads. Constant communication with family is key to a successful discharge. They also have strong relationships with the [nursing and respiratory] staff, which helps to facilitate a seamless transition from the hospital to the next level of care.”

Collaboration between hospital team members, patients and families in the setting of a strong administrative framework is the cornerstone of patient safety at Acuity Specialty Hospital of New Jersey. The hospital is passionate about doing the right things, and doing them well. This is evident in the hospital’s core values, “Integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do.” Kathy Kerstetter explains why it is this way, “this is not glamorous work. Our patients are extremely complex and challenging. Yet, our team members are passionate and committed to delivering safe, excellent care to every patient and family.”

Organization Info:
Acuity Specialty Hospital of New Jersey is a 30-bed Long Term Acute Care [LTAC] hospital located in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The employee-owned hospital is located on the fifth floor of the Wellness and Friendship Pavilions of AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center’s Atlantic City Division.

Acuity Specialty Hospital provides acute care services to critically ill and medically complex adult patients who require an extended hospital stay averaging 25 days.

# # #

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Jennifer Trallo Schreiber, MSN, MBA, RN at 856.264.9938 or email at jtrallo(at)acuityhealthcare(dot)net.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Jessie Irby
CorpComm Group
+1 419-227-4051 Ext: 104
Email >
Visit website