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Maine Made Me Sensible

Note: This video was filmed before the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, however the message continues to ring true today.
 
The Alicea-Santiago family is a cohesive unit. Members of the family stay connected to each other by playing games. Jessica is a Cardiac Telemetry nurse, while Jose works in Strategic Planning. With their three kids along for the fun, they share how they are guided through life and how they strive to guide others through the healthcare system.
 

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Local solutions, national recognition

190239SOA_Page_01.jpg“If it wasn’t documented, it wasn’t done.” This adage has been embraced by nurses the world over and has certainly improved care and saved lives. But there’s a risk to documenting too much information in the patient record: less time spent at the bedside, and an increased risk of burnout.
 
What information is essential to document? In exploring the answer to this question with Cerner, our electronic medical record provider, regulatory agencies, and other partners across the country, Northern Light Health is setting an example for other healthcare systems to follow. Recently, the team’s efforts to find the right balance were highlighted in a paper published in the Applied Clinical Informatics Journal.
 
“This was an initiative to determine the essential elements to document,” says April Giard, DNP, APN, NEA-BC, vice president and chief information officer. “Once we were able to evaluate documentation that nurses had been collecting for years, we could reduce duplication and unnecessary documentation with no negative impact on patient care. In fact, these changes support high quality, safe patient care.”
 
The paper is the culmination of years of work to achieve the right amount of documentation. While the paper covers improvements made up until about two years ago, best practices continue to be rolled out throughout our health system. Requests to add documentation requirements are carefully scrutinized to keep the process as streamlined as possible.
 
April says that these efforts have been embraced by nurses, many of whom were surprised at the amount of changes that occurred.

“The key to this project was listening to nurses and their concerns about duplicate documentation and other documentation issues,” adds April. “The feedback we’ve received has been positive; many nursing staff can’t believe that this change could really happen.”
 
As for what’s next, April says that work continues to reduce the documentation burden while maintaining and potentially improving patient care among non-nursing staff, including physicians, family nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other providers.
 
“We will continue to show leadership in the area, because our patients deserve to have the best care we can provide,” she says. “There are other large vendors in the EMR space that are paying attention to this and implementing some of the lessons we’ve learned. We’re proud to share our insights with the world.”

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Low staff infection rates hint at success of infection prevention efforts

If COVID-19 is an invisible invader that is doing its best to spread through our population of healthcare workers and patients, there is another mostly unseen entity that is defending us against this deliberate attack—the Infection Prevention and Control Council. “We’re trying to keep staff and patients safe within the facility walls,” explains Suzanne Moreshead, RN, infection prevention specialist and co-chair of the council.
 
Kayla-Trundy-EMMC-Smaller.jpgThe Infection Prevention and Control Council is comprised of infection prevention specialists located at each member organization. Infection preventionists collect data for mandatory reporting and develop and write policies to aid in infection prevention. They’ve been very busy lately writing and revising policies.
 
“Our policies are based on very scientific peer-reviewed articles as we weigh those and try to incorporate what are best practices and what are the practical applications for them across the system,” says Suzanne.
 
So far, the data shows those policies are working to keep employees safe. As of the writing of this article, several months following the first cases of COVID-19 in Maine, Northern Light Health has to date only five cases of staff infections of COVID-19 due to exposure at work.
 
“I attribute it to staff being compliant with the use of protective equipment, following the processes, washing their hands, being mindful of who is around them, and making sure they’re maintaining those distances. It comes down to those three or four items,” explains Suzanne.
 
Examples of the council’s recent work include holding additional trainings for proper hand sanitizing, appropriate ways to fold and store masks for reuse, and proper techniques for donning and doffing PPE. The team created a new policy that allows for additional PPE monitoring and guidance for employees as they go in and out of rooms of patients known to be COVID-19 positive. They’ve also established new processes to research and create position statements to inform leaders throughout the system about everything from the research and testing of new products to plans to bring people back into our facilities safely. This new role is one example of how the council’s responsibilities have grown in scope as a result of COVID-19.
 
“In the beginning, that was a very lumpy process simply because all the data we were receiving was changing daily, if not hourly,” adds Suzanne. “At the time, all the infection preventionists were fully engaged at their local member organizations, creating a lack of consistency across the system. We realized that we needed to work together. As that happened, we were able to provide a single voice representing the professionals that do this work every day, streamlining the response.”   
 
If there’s one thing Suzanne says has been more challenging during the pandemic, it’s been the disconnect between the scientific evidence they are reviewing and the misinformation that people see in social media and partisan media channels. She wants to emphasize that universal masking, social distancing, proper handwashing, and screening all help slow the spread of the virus. “It’s one way we can all do our part,” she concludes.

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Ice Cream for a Cause

Darling-s-ice-cream-group-photo-500-px.jpgCancer patients from all around Maine have appointments and receive treatment at Northern Light Cancer Care’s Lafayette Family Cancer Institute throughout the summer. Now, thanks to a partnership with Darling’s Ice Cream for a Cause, they can now enjoy a frozen treat while spending time at the institute. Darling’s is keeping freezers that are accessible to cancer care patients stocked with a variety of ice cream products. It’s a small act of kindness that provides much needed relief, and we can’t thank Darling’s enough!
 
Pictured (left to right): Taking a break from delivering frozen treats to Northern Light Cancer Care patients, Kelly Pearson, director, Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals is joined by Gary Bellefleur, lead ice cream ambassador, Darling’s Ice Cream for a Cause; Lorilei Tozier Porter, Darling's marketing; and Jenifer Lloyd, philanthropy officer, major gifts, Northern Light Health Foundation.