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News Room: Press Releases

Proud to be a great big zero

Sometimes, having nothing happen on the job means you've done the best job of all. Just ask Jennifer Carmody, RN, and Helene Ortiz, RN, MSN. They're ICU nursing directors at Voorhees and Berlin: Their teams have scored a perfect zero in eliminating two nationally recognized ICU problems, the place where the sickest patients reside. Voorhees wins the infection war
Carmody describes the Voorhees team experience: "Many ICU patients need ventilator-assistance to breathe, which makes them prone to a form of pneumonia that directly results from being on a ventilator. Our mission was to rid patients of this form of the disease." The team researched the latest evidence-based clinical practices proven to eliminate the problem, then applied these methods to everyday care. New initiatives include keeping the head of a patient's bed at a greater than 30 degree angle, so fluids do not enter the lungs. Patients are also given medication to prevent stomach ulcers which also cause infection. And, patients are given a 'sedation vacation' once every 24 hours to ensure they breathe on their own. By applying the new practices without fail, ventilator-associated pneumonia at the Voorhees ICU has been wiped out for the last two years. This accomplishment was the result of continual dedication to improvement and zero tolerance for error. Prevention is job one at Berlin
Ortiz tells a similar ICU success story about the Berlin ICU. Here, for the past three years, the team has prevented all ICU blood stream infections. These "super bugs" occur because ICU patients need a catheter or central line for medication, nutrition or hydration. This opening to the body can create a prime breeding site for infection, a situation made worse because ICU patients already have compromised immune systems. To initially solve the issue, the Berlin team tapped into the resources of the national Centers for Disease Control (CDC). And, they worked with Six Sigma/Lean processes to realign clinical practices with the CDC recommendations which meant, in some cases, changing the way the team had worked for years. These protocols stipulate cleaning the tip of each catheter with alcohol, proper flushing and capping the central line each time the patient receives an infusion, and washing hands before and after all patient contact. Virtua Voorhees, Berlin, Memorial and Marlton are all successfully meeting the quality initiatives which are part of the national 5 Million Lives Campaign. This campaign builds on the work of the earlier 100,000 Lives Campaign. Underlying both is adoption of clinical quality improvements that can save lives and prevent patient injury. Ortiz concludes: "Our team goes 24 hours a day, seven days a week to keep our patients infection-free." Carmody echoes her mission: "We never, ever give up doing our best."
As one of New Jersey’s largest health systems, Virtua helps people be well, get well and stay well through a comprehensive range of health care services. Services are delivered through three health and wellness centers, three fitness centers, four acute care hospitals, primary and specialty physician practices with more than 240 physicians, urgent care centers, seven ambulatory surgery centers, home health services, two long-term care and rehabilitation centers, 12 paramedic units and a wide range of outpatient services. A leader in maternal and child health services, Virtua delivers more than 8,000 babies a year. Virtua also provides employment and wellness services to 1,700 businesses and corporations. An innovator in clinical and information technology such as electronic medical records, Virtua is recognized for its ground-breaking partnerships with GE Healthcare, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the Fox Chase Cancer Center. It is the official orthopedic provider for the Philadelphia Flyers. Virtua employs more than 8,400 people and has been honored as the #1 Best Place to Work in the Delaware Valley for seven consecutive years. It is the recipient of the Consumer Choice Award from the National Research Corporation. For more information, visit  www.virtua.org or www.virtuabroadcastnetwork.org.