July 24, 2009

Unit signs promise to deliver excellent patient care

Featured Image

The 9 North Promise, a commitment to deliver excellent patient care, is signed by staff. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Unit signs promise to deliver excellent patient care

People often say that promises, like eggs, are meant to be broken.

But the 9 North surgical step-down unit at Vanderbilt University Hospital has forged commitment to deliver excellent patient care, one that they pledge never to break.

“The 9 North Promise” is a way to take elevate Credo behaviors and put them into action.

When unit staffers sign their names, they make a commitment to strive for excellence, respect each member of the health team, act professionally and not tolerate any poor treatment of patients, their families or other staff members.

The promise is the work of Richard Corcoran, R.N., B.S.N., unit manager, and he, along with unit frontline leaders, round to ensure that the unit is living up to its promise.

“It’s truly about a culture, not a piece of paper,” Corcoran said. “It is a physical declaration of the unit’s desire to change the culture. If we follow this promise every day, we will live up to Credo.”

New staff members sign the promise after orientation, and current staff renew their promise each year at employee evaluations. The commitment is extended to support staff, physicians, and patients by putting a copy of the promise on display in each room on the unit.

“We’re training staff to point it out to patients, and our phone numbers are right there beside it. If patients see their care deviate, they have an avenue to express that,” said Marsha Pope, R.N., assistant manager.

“The floor has always had the desire to provide patients with excellent care, that is nothing new. But this is a way to clearly communicate that. It puts our intentions and our patients’ expectations together.”

Kelly Hutchison, R.N., says the promise is a good reminder of what the team strives for daily with patients.

“It is just our way of saying that we will do everything in our power to help our patients through the difficult times they may be facing to the best of our abilities, that we will look out for their best interest, listen to their concerns, and work together to give each and every person the best outcome possible while they are in our care,” Hutchison said. “Our patients have to trust us because things are out of their control, and this is just our way of saying that they can.”

A recent patient who is in the military was so touched by the care he received on the unit that he presented a trophy to staff. Its inscription read, “Your dedication and commitment to fulfilling the Promise of Patient Care truly helped this soldier remount the wings on the eagle. With our sincere appreciation and gratitude.”

Care partner Hunter Hamilton stressed that the promise applies to everyone who steps on the unit.

“It is a declaration to ourselves, our co-workers and our patients as to the type of care we aim to provide,” he said. “It does not change the scope of our job nor the purpose in which we enter work each day. However, those days when I am tired, mentally and physically, frustrated, and/or dealing with issues outside of work, it does remind me why I am there.”

Ferrell Martin, R.N., said having the promise posted in so many places makes him more aware of the level of care that is expected.

“I’m human. There are times that if I’m not careful, I can feel stressed out or feel that a patient has been on the call light one too many times,” he explained. “But it helps to have the promise up there on the wall. When I see it, it puts my mind back in check, and I remember it’s something I strongly believe in.”