March 31, 2006

Teamwork key to Trauma Unit’s efficiency

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Teamwork key to Trauma Unit’s efficiency

The 150-person staff of nurses, care partners and medical receptionists of Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Trauma Unit understands that no one ever plans on being a patient there.

However, each day the 31-bed unit is at or near capacity with patients with a wide variety of needs ranging from car accident victims transferred from the Emergency Department to patients recovering from major surgery.

A visit to the unit is a textbook example of what Magnet Recognition is all about. The designation is the highest level of recognition for health care centers that provide nursing care determined by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Only 2 percent of hospitals in the country are Magnet Hospitals.

Visitors see a staff working together, committed to quick response times and doing everything possible to ensure the best possible care.

The Trauma Unit actually has not one, but three Magnet Champions — Beth Potts, R.N., Laurie Ford, R.N., and Stefanija Weaver, R.N. — making sure there is someone serving as a Magnet resource during the varied shifts and days of the week.

“The pursuit of Magnet Recognition is not an added item on top of what we are doing, it's actually something that is giving a name to what we are doing already,” said Weaver.

Patients in the Trauma Unit are usually unconscious or sedated, so the staff must balance high-stress health care situations with the need for clear and compassionate communications with family members.

Visitation is open 18 hours each day, with only the hours of morning and evening rounds excluded. Every day the staff sees the benefits of a liberal visitation policy for both family members and for patients.

The unit is also focusing more on its Family First program, which is intended to assist trauma victims and their families during the immediate hospitalization period by providing them with information, educational resources and support.

As part of the program, family members may participate in morning rounds. Additionally, the Trauma Unit Grief Support (TUGS) Committee is planning a memorial service for families who lost a loved one in 2005, and personal sympathy cards are signed by the staff and sent to grieving families bi-weekly.

There are plans to implement a peer-to-peer support group and a family advisory council and to develop an interactive family information center for the families in the waiting area.

Trauma's Magnet Champs have also enhanced the unit's Bedside Resource booklet to show how protocols and procedures coincide with the main principles or “forces” of the Magnet Recognition criteria.

The handy resource provides details and explanations about such important issues as how exactly the Trauma Unit managers describe autonomy.

It also serves as a quick reference for temperature conversions, Braden scores, CAM-ICU assessments and concentrations for common drips, among other items.

“We're all so busy, but there are times between admissions or procedures or discharge where you have a few minutes to look at the Bedside Resource booklet,” said Potts.

The booklet also includes the questions that could be asked during the Magnet site visit and tailors how those questions could be answered.

Trauma's Magnet champions also print out all the unit wide e-mails and put hard copies in the booklet so every nurse has access to the same information.

Additionally, the staff is committed to continuing education.

“Our staff is very driven,” said Ford. “More than half are pursuing their master's of science in nursing and those who aren't are likely taking extra classes to earn various accreditations and certifications. We are never stagnant; we're always continuing our education.”

VUMC has more than 170 Magnet Champions or staff leaders representing every major department and clinic.

The accreditation process will culminate with a site-visit this summer.