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Operational Control Center to provide seamless patient flow

Feb. 8, 2021, 10:50 AM

On hand for the ribbon cutting at Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital’s new Operational Control Center were, from left, Shon Dwyer, MBA, RN, Schiara Gonzalez Parker, MBA, MSN, Stephan Russ, MD, MPH, Lee Ann Liska, MBA, and Susan Beggerow, MA.
On hand for the ribbon cutting at Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital’s new Operational Control Center were, from left, Shon Dwyer, MBA, RN, Schiara Gonzalez Parker, MBA, MSN, Stephan Russ, MD, MPH, Lee Ann Liska, MBA, and Susan Beggerow, MA. (photo by Donn Jones)

by Kathy Rivers

Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital’s (VUAH) new Operational Control Center will improve coordination of patient care, ensuring patients get the care they need without unnecessary delays.

The new control center brings together patient flow decisionmakers in one location, resulting in greater coordination and more unified execution as well as improved patient and provider satisfaction.

“Picture a NASA mission control room or an airline that operates fleets of airplanes across the world through dynamic situations like inclement weather,” said Stephan Russ, MD, MPH, associate professor of Emergency Medicine, associate chief of staff for VUAH, and Operational Control Center medical director.

“That’s exactly what our new command center is designed to do — provide seamless coordination, clearer communication and swift problem solving as we manage the care of our patients.”

Kirbee Miller, MS, examines the wall-mounted monitor boards in the new Operational Control Center.
Kirbee Miller, MS, examines the wall-mounted monitor boards in the new Operational Control Center. (photo by Donn Jones)

The Adult Hospital admits nearly 45,000 patients a year. On any given day there are frequent updates and real-time adjustments needed to get patients the services they need. Patient flow involves many components, including the direct clinical care, physical resources and internal systems needed to get patients from the point of admission to the point of discharge.

“The Operational Control Center reinforces our commitment to caring for patients in the right place, at the right time, as efficiently and effectively as possible to best meet their needs,” said Shon Dwyer, MBA, RN, President of VUAH. “The heightened level of coordination will support visual real-time problem solving and allow us to better manage bed capacity. Over time we will become more internally efficient and better able to utilize our system-wide capacity for all who seek our care.”

The center maximizes the hospital’s capability to react quickly and appropriately. This is especially necessary when unfolding situations like a surge in Emergency Department admissions occur.

Additionally, everyone ranging from executive leaders to residents can drop by the Operational Control Center in person to resolve specific challenges or barriers.

The Operational Control Center is overseen by VUAH Chief of Staff Warren Sandberg, MD, and VUAH Chief Operating Officer Lee Ann Liska. Daily leadership is provided by Russ and Patient Flow Director Schiara Gonzalez Parker, MBA, MSN. Gonzalez Parker manages the center’s staff, which includes administrative coordinators, bed management specialists, an Environmental Services dispatcher, a transport dispatcher and a logistics coordinator.

Over time, the Medicine Admission Coordinators and other case managers and coordinators for diagnostic services will be added.

“So many VUMC colleagues came together to make this new center a priority, and we look forward to the positive impact this model will make in terms of timely transfers, imaging and testing turnaround times, room cleaning and transport turnaround times and completing patient discharges before 11 a.m.,” said Liska. “As we move forward, we will engage front-line staff to help drive process improvements and further partner with Health Information Technology colleagues to improve information transparency.”

The new Operational Control Center is located in a high-visibility area: The Vanderbilt Clinic Room 2107.

The space features 21 workstations and nine wall-mounted monitors, conference phone and webcam for interactive meetings and will be staffed around the clock, 365 days a year.

The Operational Control Center is the latest milestone on VUMC’s continuous journey to improve patient flow during the past 10 years.

Centralizing bed management, expanding the use of telemedicine and integrating the LifeFlight Shift Operations Coordinator into the Patient Flow Center have all led to improvements.

The new center is the latest milestone as VUMC focuses on coordinating patient flow across its three community hospitals, Tennova-Clarksville Hospital and among Vanderbilt Health Affiliate partners.

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