Shift changes at Beebe, wet October, dedicated Rotarians

Paul Abrams, left, and Jim Gullborg have a combined 95 years of perfect attendance at Rotary International meetings. BY DENNIS FORNEY
November 16, 2012

Anyone who has spent time in Beebe Medical Center either as a patient or a visitor - and that includes almost all of us - knows how busy the corridors of Sussex County's largest employer can be. Between doctors, nurses, patients, housekeeping and maintenance staff, visitors and volunteers, Beebe swirls.

That motion is never so evident as at the shift change, especially on the medical-surgical floor of the hospital where more than 100 nurses provide around-the-clock care.

At a quality and safety awards banquet last week, Margaret Porter - a veteran nurse in that unit - talked about a major change in routine in the past year that has resulted in a significant upward spike in patient satisfaction. Porter said a team of nurses reviewing procedures saw an opportunity for improvement. The idea was to improve the hand-off of patients from one shift to the next by adopting a bedside reporting model that brings the patients into the shift change equation.

Porter said the concern was that there were too many distractions around the nurses' station with all the comings and goings. That created too many opportunities for lapses in communication and incomplete information. By moving the shift change into the patents' rooms, the incoming and outgoing nurses are out of the flow of the station and corridors, and the patients can be part of the process and take a more active role in monitoring their care.

“We had buy-in on this from other departments,” said Porter, “For example, the emergency room agreed not to send us any new patients during the shift change so we could concentrate on this important transition time. The nurses have felt improvement, and there have also been huge gains in patient satisfaction. The value of this change really exceeded our expectations,” said Porter.

Beebe Medical Center President Jeff Fried said the hospital sets high goals. “That's why we're exceptional,” he said. “And it's the people who work here on the front lines and their ideas that let us score so well in independent reviews.” Fried said Healthgrades, a national hospital rating firm headquartered in Denver, awarded Beebe more five-star ratings in the past 12 months for various departments and procedures than were awarded to any other hospital in Delaware.

More evidence of the level of day-in and day-out activity at Beebe surfaced during the banquet. Andrea Newberry, in charge of outpatient scheduling for the medical center, said her department receives an average of 300 calls per day for services, 7,000 per month.

Jerry Smith, in charge of central purchasing for the center, said his department handles about 17,000 transactions per month, 200,000 per year. “We often tell hospital employees, if you used something in the hospital today, we're the ones who ordered it. Our job is to have the right products in the right place at the right time.”

Wettest October ever for Delaware

Jeff Masters, founder of the Wunderground weather site, writes a regular blog that is very informative. In his blog last Friday, Masters reported that October 2012 was the wettest October on record for Delaware. That followed one of the hottest summers on record for the whole country which, he said, will ultimately make 2012 one of the hottest years on record. In Sussex County, largely due to Superstorm Sandy, total rainfall for the month, recorded in Georgetown, was 5.83 inches. As much as that was, we are still about 10 inches of rainfall behind normal for this time of the year.

A pair of dedicated Rotarians

Jim Gullborg and Paul Abrams, both of Broomall, Pa., attended the Lewes-Rehoboth Rotary meeting at Irish Eyes in Lewes last Monday night. You'd be hard-pressed to find two people more dedicated to this service organization that meets weekly, with a few holiday exceptions. Gullborg, 87, has recorded perfect attendance - at his own club's meetings and with other clubs across the country - for 60 years. Abrams, 75, has perfect attendance for the past 35 years. “I keep trying to catch him,” said Abrams, who has attended meetings in locations as far away as Lithuania to keep his streak alive.

Gullborg said he has attended meetings as far away as Pearl Harbor. “The most interesting was one in Manhattan,” said Gullborg.

“There were so many people there involved with the United Nations, I was the only American at the table.”

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