Weather Forecast


April full of awards for Essentia Health DL

Essentia Healh St. Mary’s won four different state and national awards all within a month’s time, including the Patient Safety Improvement Award. DL NEWSPAPERS/Paula Quam

It’s been a banner month for the staff at Essentia Health St. Mary’s in Detroit Lakes — literally.

A March of Dimes banner near the clinic entrance congratulating the medical facility on its strides to ensure infant health is only one of four state and national recognitions that rolled in this month.

“Huddle on the Move”

Less than a year ago, the nursing staff at Essentia “got together” to make sure every single patient in the hospital was getting exactly the right care every time.

The concept they adopted is called “Huddle on the Move.”

“Nurse managers and our CNO travel and visit our entire hospital census every day,” said quality director for the facility, Shawn Christianson, “They then huddle and review to ensure all the appropriate care measures are given to each and every patient — it’s phenomenal.”

Christianson says nurse managers often have to stratify the most critical and acute patients to determine who needs to be focused on.

While this Huddle on the Move concept isn’t unique to very small facilities, it is to one the size of Essentia DL where they can have 30 or so patients on any given day.

“And because of this, we have to be very deliberate because otherwise it would be very easy to say, ‘Oh, we don’t have time to review all these,’” she added.

Christianson says not only does this dedication help the patients as their cases are reviewed while they are still in the hospital, but it also earned Essentia Health Detroit Lakes the honor of being one of only two hospitals in Minnesota to earn the Patient Safety Improvement Award through the Minnesota Hospital Association.

“And it was a big deal because we’re told there were many, many nominations,” said Christianson.

A satisfied customer

When people leave a medical facility, they can often be tough customers. Satisfaction can be hard to come by.

But when the staff at Essentia Health DL won over the vast majority of their patients, they also won two Minnesota Hospital Association Patient Safety Awards.

Here’s how it happens: A company called Professional Resource Consultants calls patients all over the United States to ask a series of questions about the care they received. The idea is to gauge how satisfied they were with their experience at their particular hospital.

When the results came back, Essentia Health Detroit Lakes cracked the top 10 percentile in the nation.

“That was so exciting to hear because we’re just little Detroit Lakes,” said Chief Nursing Officer Kay Larson, who says many of those recognitions go to large medical facilities around the country.

The two specific areas the hospital was recognized for regarding this award was “responsiveness of staff” and “discharge information.”

Responsiveness of staff meant the professionals at Essentia were given high marks from patients who felt very attended to.

“So when I turn my call light on, the nurses are there or when I need something for pain or have a question, they’re there,” said Larson, who says from the person who brings a patient their food to the physicians, everybody works hard to make sure they are prompt with tending to each patient.

The “discharge information” recognition comes from Essentia staff helping patients understand exactly what they have to do once they leave the facility.

“From knowing how to take their medication to when their next appointment is to how much activity they can do,” said Larson, who says while these two categories earned them the national awards, their patient satisfaction scores have been on a steady increase in many areas of care.

“It’s really exciting to see the staff engage and be proud that yeah, I’m part of that, I’ve made that better,” said Larson. “There’s been a whole bunch of growth with the staff and it’s nice to see them recognized for it.”

It’s all about the babies

Even as recently as a few years ago, it was much more accepted for mothers-to-be to request their babies be induced a little early. “Either they felt like they were just done being pregnant or it worked out better for their families to have the baby on a particular day…” said Larson, who says since then it’s become more apparent how important it is for babies to make it at least 39 weeks.

The March of Dimes declared that idea “best practice” and has been making a big push for hospitals to stop elective inductions for non-medical reasons.

Essentia Health DL was all over it.

When the hospital was measured for its number of inductions prior to 39 weeks, it was one of only 20 hospitals in Minnesota to meet a benchmark of decreasing those cases.

“It’s a major change in practice, but I don’t think we’ve had an elected induction like that in about a year,” said Larson, who says they try to educate those expectant mothers expecting a convenient, early out just how important this issue can be.

“For every week prior to 39 weeks, your increased risk of mortality of your baby increases by 40 percent,” said Christianson.

The award by the March of Dimes is just one feather in the hat of a relatively small medical facility in a relatively small community that shows how good decisions and hard work can produce big changes.

“It’s rewarding to see how our teams have come together,” said LeAnn Mouw, communications director for the hospital. “Whether they’re on the ER, medical surgery or OB, they form this cohesive, tight team to support each other and focus on the patient and what’s best for them. It’s been really exciting to see.”

Paula Quam

Paula Quam is the editor for Forum Communications Co. newspapers in Detroit Lakes, Perham and Wadena, all in Minnesota.

(218) 844-1466