Archive for August, 2009

Electronic Medical Records for McLeod Health

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

I went through Medical Records in Florence today to see again first- hand how the team is converting our paper records.  Cynthia Williams, Assistant Director of Medical Records, walked me through each step along the process and updated me on the current status of the project.  Medical Records is busy training, prepping, scanning, and performing ‘QC’ (quality control) during the conversion of medical records from paper copies to an imaged, electronic medical record.  As the project in Florence stabilizes, we will be converting records in at McLeod Darlington and McLeod Dillon in the same manner.


Kathleen Mitchell, a prepper/scanner clerk for Medical Records, scans a patient's medical record using a high-speed scanner.

McLeod Health is part of a national initiative to provide patients with components of an electronic personal health record, reducing healthcare costs and securing protected health information that is passed in health information exchanges.  For many years, the results for the following clinical departments have already been available online during the admission and stay of the patient: laboratory, anatomical pathology, radiology, PACs radiology images, respiratory therapy, echocardiology, nuclear cardiology, vascular lab, neurodiagnostics, sleep studies, and pulmonary function studies. A patient’s record will remain on paper while the patient is hospitalized but is converted to a digital image within five days of discharge.  While new procedures and change is always difficult, we expect to see many advantages with this project.

Internal Advantages:

1.  Reduce time in rendering care to patient by not waiting for a paper chart to be retrieved.
2.  Increase accuracy of prognoses and plans of care.
3.  Increase privacy of patient information by decreasing inappropriate disclosures.
4.  Increase services reimbursement with electronic transmissions of claims and remittances.
5.  Reduced costs related to paper records management.
6.  Assist in the efficiency, effectiveness, and efficacy of the care given by clinicians.

External Advantages:

1.  Electronic exchange of patient information between clinicians and practitioners.
2.  Reduce cost of providing healthcare.
3.  Interoperability with other EMRs of other healthcare providers for seamless sharing of patient information during treatment.
4.  Increase in the overall quality of healthcare.


Dr. Stephen Dersch with West Florence Family Medicine reviews an online medical record.

As of August 26, more than half of the physicians at McLeod Regional Medical Center have been trained and will soon be successfully using the EMR system.  The Medical Records Department went ‘live’ on the new process on August 1st and is now in week four of the conversion.  I want to thank Mavis Turner, Director of Medical Records, and Shari Donley, Information Systems Director of Operations, for their efforts this past year as they have planned and directed the conversion from paper.  Many people are involved in the work and the planning has helped to make this process go as smooth as possible.


McLeod Safety Fair

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

At 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, I attended the McLeod Quality and Safety Fair, held in the Cafe Du Jour commons area, to see the work shared by our people on these initiatives and standards. The two day event reflects great efforts and attendance. Within the first day alone, there were more than 1700 attendees. The Poster Fair provided focused information that staff need to know in an enjoyable way. The organizing committee, led by Linda Duncan, wanted to use this instructional opportunity to teach as well as celebrate the successes of the last year of survey excellence and readiness.


Jill Blaker, Clinical Effectiveness Coordinator, discusses Quality Improvement with Dr. David Horger, McLeod Urologist.

Just a brief overview of some of the topics included:
-The new electronic Improve the Process Form.
-Bee Alert (Confidentiality)
-Service Excellence
-CE/OE and Quality Project overviews
-Fire Safety
-Emergency Management
-Skills testing in a virtual room.
-McLeod alpha/bravo notification system


Linda Duncan, Director of Survey Readiness, instructs Fair participants.

I was extremely pleased to see the work and posters highlighting reminders and efforts to be safe, be alert, and continue to improve for our patients and team. Excellent work by participants, and Linda Duncan and her team.

Rob Colones

Influenza Update

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Dear McLeod Employee,

As we remain dedicated in our efforts to manage the current and future Influenza risks, McLeod Health is committed to its leadership role in patient safety by preventing the spread of Flu. We appreciate your diligence and hard work in the care of our patients and want to work with all our staff in the management and identification of known or suspected flu cases.

At present, our influenza-like illness is widespread, which is atypical for this time of year. However, we do anticipate an even higher volume of patients presenting with flu-like symptoms.

Once again, seasonal flu vaccines will be offered to staff, those dates will be announced when the vaccine is available, with the regular $20 incentive provided. The H1N1 (Swine-like) Flu vaccines are additional vaccines and require two injections, a month apart. These will be given according to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommendations for high risk populations, which include: persons between the ages of 18-24, pregnant females, and healthcare workers.

The H1N1 vaccine is expected to be ready by the end of September. We will notify our staff and make it available upon receipt from DHEC.

For simple but effective means of prevention, you should:

-avoid out of the workplace unprotected contact with known or suspected cases of influenza.

-get with your department director for specific precautions as it relates to your work area.

-use cough etiquette

-use frequent and appropriate hand washing techniques

-stay home when you are sick to prevent spread. Report to your physician for guidance on treatment and to your director to follow appropriate procedures for sick time.

McLeod Health continues to follow CDC Guidelines and S.C. DHEC recommendations for the care of patients with Influenza. The McLeod Department of Epidemiology will routinely monitor the prevalence of local (inpatient and staff) influenza-like illness and provide you with Weekly Updates through a McLeod Health Alert communication. These updates will include:

-current prevalence within the organization

-recommendations for testing and treatment


-Education for staff and patients

Our team is aware that the current situation with influenza is evolving quickly. Plans for managing patient volumes, treatment processes, procedures and staffing are a constant priority. Thank you for your cooperation and support in this healthcare effort. For more information, please contact: McLeod Department of Epidemiology, 777-6421.


Dr. Rick Ervin, McLeod Infectious Disease Specialist

Rob Colones, President of McLeod Health

Click here for 2009 Influenza A/H1N1 Employee Information

The Inside Workings of a Hospital

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

This summer, two medical school students – Anna Collins and Zack Coward – spent time with Dr. Whitehead in a special program designed to share with these ’soon to be’ physicians and orient them to the daily challenges of the inside workings of a hospital.  The program was an idea conceived by Dr. Alva Whitehead, Vice President of McLeod Medical Staff services and  is funded by the McLeod Foundation. It  has been a great success for those involved.  In addition to helping these medical school students understand the healthcare system, perhaps the program will lead to a choice for one of them to join the medical staff after their training has been completed. This summer program, now in its second year,  specifically searches for first year medical school students who live in the Pee Dee region.


Brenda Allen, Zac Coward, Anna Collins and Dr. Alva Whitehead

Here is a thank you note we received from both of the students who attended recently.

Dr. Whitehead,

I appreciate everything you did to make the six week program at McLeod a wonderful experience for both Zack and me.  I learned so much from you, Bob, and all of the McLeod staff who welcomed us and made us feel at home there.  I gained a much better understanding of how a hospital is run from many different perspectives and was inspired to learn even more about medicine, healthcare policies, and ethical issues.  I have recommended the books we read with you to several medical students recently and will look forward to telling upcoming first year students how much I enjoyed the program.  Thanks again for all of the effort you put into this internship and for being such a gifted teacher and mentor.

Anna Collins

Dr. Whitehead,

Thank you for having me in the fellowship program this summer.  On several occasions people mentioned to Anna and I all you do in organizing the program and adding to your busy schedule, so thank you for working to give us this experience.  Being in the hospital was a refreshing experience after a year of classroom work, and I learned much about all the different roles within a hospital, the issues facing hospitals and physicians, and how services are examined and changed within the hospital setting.  I truly believe that everything I saw this summer will be extremely valuable going forward into my clinical years and practice.  Thanks for sharing your insights into the hospital and what we were seeing this summer, which helped us make sense of all the information.  again, thanks for everything you did to make this and enriching experience, and I look forward to stopping by and visiting when I get the chance and hopefully during a 3rd year rotation here as well.

Zack Coward

I want to take this opportunity to personally and publicly thank Dr. Alva Whitehead for his service to others.  As Vice President of Medical Services, he has provided Administration, Leadership and the Board with valuable insight on a host of issues from a physician’s perspective.  In addition, he has helped to create programs, including the one above for first year medical students, that help all of us to pause, listen, learn, and grow as better individuals.  Dr. Whitehead, Thanks!

Rob Colones

McLeod Invited to Participate in National Model

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

On Tuesday, Dr. John Toussaint and Nancy Gurnee from the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value, in Appleton, Wisconsin, visited McLeod Health.  The meeting was to exchange information on quality, safety and cost effectiveness for healthcare organizations using ‘lean’ methods to improve processes, remove unnecessary steps and bring additional value to our patients.

OE group photo

Pictured above are Nancy Gurnee, Donna Isgett, Larry Adams and Dr. John Toussaint

We are pleased that McLeod Health has been invited to join the Healthcare Value Leaders Network and participate in their global reach on these initiatives.  The Network’s goals for the healthcare industry as a whole are to:

-Improve safety, quality, and efficiency in the delivery of care

-Document best practices for lean transformation

-Create a common definition of value in healthcare

-Create common measures for performance comparison

This network is one of the primary means through which lean principles will spread in healthcare. It is focused on fundamentally improving the way healthcare is delivered in the U.S. by using the principles of continuous improvement and redesign to remove waste and to improve quality. The network will engage working groups of dedicated providers, including McLeod, to connect with and learn from each other, thereby creating tangible momentum toward value in healthcare.

The national Network is achieving the same kind of remarkable quality and productivity improvements that American manufacturers have produced over the last 30 years using ‘lean’ methods.  These Network members are dedicated to applying similar continuous improvement techniques in their organizations.

The current organizations in the network are:

-Group Health Cooperative – Seattle, WA
-Gundersen Lutheran Health System – La Crosse, WI
-Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates – Boston, MA
-Hotel Dieu-Grace Hospital – Windsor, Ontario, Canada
-Iowa Health System – Des Moines, IA
-Johns Hopkins Medicine – Baltimore, MD
-Lawrence & Memorial Hospital – New London, CT
-Lehigh Valley Health Network – Allentown, PA
-McLeod Health – Florence, SC
-Mercy Medical Center – Cedar Rapids, IA
-Park Nicollet Health Services – Minneapolis, MN
-St. Boniface General Hospital – Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
-St. Joseph Health System – Orange, CA
-ThedaCare – Appleton, WI
UCLA Health System – Los Angeles, CA
-University of Michigan Health System – Ann Arbor, MI

During the visit on Tuesday, Dr. Toussaint and Nancy Gurnee, joined Donna Isgett and other members of our Operational Effectiveness team – Renee Kennedy, Will McLeod, and Larry Adams.  The group reviewed improvements by teams from McLeod working in Case Management, Laboratory, Emergency Department and Telemetry.  It was a good opportunity to share information as we search for ways to improve processes to benefit our patients.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to reply in the comments section of this blog.


Other information:

See blog from June 24th

McLeod Health uses lean methodology in Operational Effectiveness (OE) In early 2007, McLeod embarked on a new quality initiative called “Operational Effectiveness.”  Using our nationally recognized Clinical Effectiveness initiatives that have put McLeod in the national spotlight related to the quality of patient care, we started Operational Effectiveness (OE) related to quality in how we do our work.

OE is driven by efforts to remove the burdens of work, take the unnecessary steps away, and allow more time to focus on “value added” work. OE has been implemented out of respect for people, both our patients and our employees.

Patient Responds To Excellent Service

Monday, August 3rd, 2009
McLeod Darlington

I recently read the following letter from a patient’s daughter. Her impression of the excellent care and medical service  at McLeod Medical Center in Darlington was extremely favorable. It reflected the commitment and concern of our medical staff and professional team in Darlington.  It is another example of consistent service from person to person, department to department as our colleagues work together to provide care and support for a patient who needs our help. It is the kind of service that reflects the care we would want for our own family members.

July 29, 2009

My father, (name held for confidentiality), has been a patient at your facility twice.  Once in June, for a respiratory inflammation and yesterday, for an outpatient colonoscopy.  My sister and I would like to thank your staff for such attentive and loving care that they gave to our father.  All the nurses that were assigned to him, respiratory therapy, housekeeping, everyone was so nice.  During the colonscopy, the entire staff was very thorough and kept us informed on Daddy’s condition.  Dr. Lilly is an asset to the hospital.  He is so kind to dad and makes us all feel very comfortable.  It is a great profession to help people, people from all walks of life.  I commend you and your entire staff for loving their profession and letting it show through their actions.


Daughter of  the patient

While we also receive letters where we have not been consistent in one or more of our departments across the hospital system, there are many, many more letters where your actions are examples of our values.  Thank you for allowing me to share this letter about dedicated staff at McLeod Medical Center in Darlington.  When you see Dr. Lilly, Pat Godbold, Jenny Hardee, Faye Street, James Cooper, Nancy Vivian or any of the team in Housekeeping, Nursing, Respiratory, Outpatient OR, please thank them for their work and service in Darlington.  Let’s learn from their example and continue in our efforts to serve with excellence.