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Neuro ICU lands national award for nursing quality

Feb. 27, 2014, 9:50 AM

Neurological Intensive Care unit team members include (front row, from left) Colleen Arrasmith, BSN, R.N., CCRN, Christin Ayre, BSN, R.N., CNRN, and Jill Shelton, BSN, R.N., (back row, from left) Misty Ashby, BSN, R.N., Jason Flippin, R.N., Beth Eckart, BSN, R.N., CCRN, and Arlene Boudreaux, MSN, R.N., CCRN, CNRN. (photo by Joe Howell)

The Neurological Intensive Care Unit at Vanderbilt University Hospital has received the Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence, one of the highest markers of nursing care.

“Our nursing staff is so excited to win this award,” said Christin Ayre, R.N., Neuro ICU nurse manager. “We have gone through a lot of changes in the past few years, but made this a goal to accomplish. We have such great nurses and knew we fit the criteria.”

Given by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, the Beacon Award lauds North American hospital units that employ evidence-based practices to improve patient and family outcomes. Units must meet high standards in leadership structures and systems; appropriate staffing and engagement; effective communication, knowledge management, learning and development, and best practices; evidence-based practice and processes; and outcome measurement.

The 34-bed Neuro ICU provides critical care to patients with brain tumors, acute strokes and other diseases of the brain. It is one of three units in Tennessee with active designations. Vanderbilt’s Surgical Intensive Care Unit was the first adult unit in Tennessee to receive the Beacon Award.

“This is a well-deserved honor for the leadership and staff of the Neuro Intensive Care Unit. This unit has a proven track record of excellent quality and high patient satisfaction, and I am thrilled to see them receive this national recognition,” said Pam Jones, DNP, R.N., VUH chief nursing officer and associate hospital director.

The Neuro ICU began the application process about two years ago, and nurse educator Arlene Boudreaux, MSN, R.N., led the charge.

“We do a lot of outcomes research and quality work, which is 50 percent of the score, so I knew we were already qualified. It was just a matter of gathering a group to write it up,” Boudreaux said.

“The more we got into it, the more we discovered areas we do really well but also areas to improve for patients and staff.”

The unit has put a huge emphasis on quality improvement, dramatically decreasing incidences of central line-associated blood stream infection (CLABSI), catheter-associate urinary tract infection (CAUTI), ventilator-associate pneumonia (VAP) and falls with harm.

“We’ve worked hard on putting structure and quality into the unit. Going forward, our goals are to improve CAUTIs and falls in general,” said assistant manager Jill Shelton, R.N. “We’re meeting our goals because our nurses are so engaged in these projects. They’re competitive and think why haven’t we conquered this yet?”

Neuro ICU Medical Director Avinash Kumar, M.D., said the strength of an intensive care unit is built on the foundation of great nursing care.

“The Beacon Award is a testament to the multidisciplinary culture of excellence that we continually strive to achieve. You can expect great things from our excellent team in the days to come,” Kumar said.

Boudreaux said the Beacon Award is an outward recognition of the great care that Neuro ICU nurses provide every day.

“Nurses can get caught up in the day-to-day and miss the big picture of what a great job they do for patients and families. We feel it is important for them to receive praise and an affirmation of the benefits of their efforts,” Boudreaux said.

The Neuro ICU received the Beacon bronze level through 2017, and the leadership plans to reapply and reach a higher level next time.

“We have even more goals we want to meet, and we’ll do better on the redesignation,” Ayre said.

Shelton added, “In three years, we’re going for the gold!”

Key application writers included: Ayre, Boudreaux, Shelton, Colleen Arrasmith, R.N., Jason Flippin, R.N., Abby Geegan R.N., and Natalie Mixson, R.N.

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