Memorial Hospital’s Patient Safety Initiative

CHESTER – At Memorial Hospital our priority is our patients, and our mission is their safety. Every one of our employees dedicates themselves to ensuring the best safety practices possible to reduce harm and improve patient outcomes. Memorial recognized Patient Safety Awareness Week, March 10-16, with departments sharing information on the safety practices and improvements in their areas and by recognizing patient safety advocates throughout the organization who were nominated by their co-workers.

Rebecca Hahn (from left), Rhonda Mott, and Ryan Petrowske. Not pictured, Carrie Jo Dierks and Denise Wilson.

The diagnostic imaging department utilizes low dose CT screening using the ALARA Principle

The low dose principle, also known as the ALARA principle, is the rule of thumb in medicine, specifically radiology.  What is the ALARA principle? ALARA means the dose should be kept “As Low As Reasonably Achievable”.  Thanks to ever-improving technology and knowledge, it is possible to produce high quality images with a lower dose of radiation, and likewise improved patient safety. Below are a few of the developments helping support the ALARA principle: 

Hardware:  Improved X-ray tubes and detectors, using filters to pre-harden the X-ray beam. 

Software:  Software solutions that increasingly automate parameters such as tube current, exposure time, or focal spot size, as well as iterative reconstruction of image data.

Positioning:  Dose reduction by means of optimum patient positioning and proper staff training. 

An example of the ALARA principle applied at Memorial Hospital is the low dose Computed Tomography (CT) scan, which is the recommended imaging test for lung cancer screening. 

Staff participate in emergency preparedness exercises to plan for improvements

Memorial Hospital’s Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) and Therapy and Sports Rehab Center (TSRC) participated in a Workplace Violence tabletop exercise with the Illinois Health and Hospital Association (IHA) on November 8, 2023. During the live interactive simulation, these two departments navigated an evolving workplace violence scenario that resulted in a compromised healthcare facility and a mass casualty incident. In addition to Memorial Hospital, an impressive 109 hospitals, 27 health systems and 1,500 individuals participated in the exercise, which means healthcare facilities across Illinois are now stronger and better prepared for this type of event. 

As a result of the exercise, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, Georgia Stipe, and others who participated, identified the need for a first aid bag at the TSRC building, and patient transport backboards at both RHCs and TSRC. These will be used in the event of emergency evacuation and will help improve safe patient transport as well as staff and responder safety. The backboards were received by Memorial Hospital through a partnership and long-standing relationship with the Illinois EMS
Region 4 Southwestern Illinois HOPE Coalition. RHC and TSRC staff will be trained in safe use of the backboards by Ryan Schaal, PT, and TSRC staff will be trained to use the First Aid supplies by ER Nurse Manager Kim Ruebke, RN. 

Pharmacy incorporates electronic pill counter to improve patient safety

With the Pharmacy’s new Eyecon Automatic Pill Counter, they can fill prescriptions with an advanced level of safety and accuracy. Eyecon is the first vision-based validation and pill counting system that also saves a photo of every transaction. If a count is questioned, the photo can be reviewed. Every pill is numbered, and all the prescription data is included on the photo in the patient’s record. The Eyecon recognizes not only the number of pills being dispensed, but the type of pill or medication. This advanced resource is an added safety feature to those already in place at the Pharmacy.

Outpatient lab renovations improve patient access and safety

In the upcoming weeks a new outpatient lab draw station will be opening on the main floor of the hospital. The new location is just a few feet from the main registration area, making it easily accessible for patients and closer for the critical response team if assistance is needed. 

During Patient Safety Awareness Week, employees nominated coworkers in recognition of their outstanding efforts as safety advocates at Memorial Hospital. Those nominated were Carrie Jo Dierks, Rebecca Hahn, Rhonda Mott, Ryan Petrowske and Denise Wilson. Here is what their coworkers had to say about them:

Carrie Jo Dierks, Nursing Assistant – Infusion and Chemotherapy Department

“Carrie Jo always shows concern for our patients receiving treatment, by checking on them frequently and ensuring they get to and from their vehicle safely. This was especially appreciated during the construction when the direct route to infusion was not available.”

Rebecca Hahn, LPN – Specialty Clinic

“I would like to nominate Becky. She will stop what she is doing and go get a patient from their car and take them to their appointment or take a patient to their car to make sure they don’t fall. She will stop to pick something up from the floor and make sure the pathway is clear and safe for patients and coworkers alike. She will also offer a patient who is having a hard time getting around a wheelchair to assist them, again getting them where they need to go with a smile.”

Rhonda Mott, Chief Radiologic Technologist – Diagnostic Imaging

“Rhonda takes on many roles in the department to ensure patient safety. As the lead mammography technologist, she spends countless hours staying on top of the FDA safety requirements outlined in the MQSA (Mammography Quality Standards Act). She oversees all aspects of mammography for quality patient care. This includes the initial patient exam but also includes sending patient follow up exam letters, performing quality assurance equipment tests, and staying on top of the latest regulatory changes to come into effect in September of this year. Due to her efforts, Memorial continues to maintain our ACR (American College of Radiology) accreditation providing the highest level of image quality and safety with equipment, medical personnel, and quality assurance. Another role she fills is SWIC (Southwestern Illinois College) clinical coordinator. She trains the next generation of x-ray technologists in radiation safety and patient positioning. By their second year, students are well prepared to work immediately after graduation. Many who have gone through the program continue to work at Memorial Hospital. With her many roles, Rhonda consistently goes above and beyond for the patients and the community.”

Ryan Petrowske, Project Foreman – Plant Operations

“Each day I see him working in the construction environments or outside. Ryan is always wearing protective gear – eyewear, knee protection, safety boots, and a hardhat. Ryan is a good safety example for the others and ensures the environment for the contractors working at Memorial is safe as well.”

Denise Wilson, Clinical Assistant – Specialty Clinic

“She not only goes above and beyond for safety but, in all aspects of her job functions. Denise offers for patients to call her any time they need assistance getting into the hospital, regardless of whether it is one of her doctor’s patients. Denise is the employee you will find in the hallway/hospital picking up debris for the safety and cleanliness of the facility.” 

We take this time to share our gratitude to all employees and departments who work together to make patient safety a priority. Their dedication reflects Memorial Hospital’s longstanding commitment to professional excellence in providing safe, quality healthcare, compassion and service to patients, the community and each other.