Southwest Healthy Systems Wins Quality Award

03/09/2020

When Southwest Health Systems in Cortez had to cut nearly 20 percent of its workforce to balance its budget, it promised to do so without sacrificing quality care. A new award proves it didn’t.

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WHEN SOUTHWEST HEALTH SYSTEMS IN CORTEZ WAS FORCED TO REDUCE ITS WORK FORCE BY MORE THAN 20 PERCENT TWO YEARS AGO, IT PROMISED TO DO SO WITHOUT COMPROMISING QUALITY CARE. AND NOW, THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM HAS BEEN RECOGNIZED FOR ITS EXCEPTIONAL PERFORMANCE IN IMPROVING PATIENT HEALTH. I'M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE, AND YOU'RE WATCHING THE LOCAL NEWS NETWORK. THE COLORADO RURAL HEALTH CENTER RECENTLY HONORED SOUTHWEST HEALTH SYSTEM WITH ITS ABOVE AND BEYOND AWARD IN RECOGNITION OF ITS EFFORTS TO HELP PATIENTS BETTER MANAGE CHRONIC DISEASE AND TO REDUCE READMISSION RATES FOLLOWING A STAY IN THE HOSPITAL. SOUTHWEST HEALTH SYSTEM OPERATES SOUTHWEST MEMORIAL HOSPITAL AND SIX PRIMARY AND SPECIALTY CARE CLINICS IN THE AREA. DURING THE PAST TWO YEARS, SOUTHWEST HEALTH-CARE TEAMS HELPED DIABETIC PATIENTS IMPROVE THEIR BLOOD-SUGAR LEVELS BY MORE THAN 12 PERCENT, IMPROVED MANAGEMENT OF BLOOD PRESSURE BY 21 PERCENT, AND REDUCED READMISSION RATES TO UNDER 3 PERCENT. SOUTHWEST CHIEF NURSING OFFICER KAREN LABONTE SAID STAFF WORK CLOSELY WITH PATIENTS AND THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS TO CAREFULLY EXPLAIN HOW TO TAKE OR ADMINISTER MEDICATIONS, TREAT WOUNDS, MEASURE BLOOD-SUGAR LEVELS, TAKE BLOOD-PRESSURE READINGS OR PERFORM ANY OTHER POST-CARE PROTOCOLS. THEY ALSO ENSURE THAT PATIENTS BOOK A FOLLOW-UP APPOINTMENT BEFORE LEAVING THE CLINIC OR HOSPITAL, AND THEY CONSISTENTLY FOLLOW UP WITH REMINDERS.
I THINK IT JUST SHOWS THE GOOD WORK THAT WE'RE DOING, AND IT ALSO REINFORCES THAT WHAT WE'RE DOING IS WORKING. AND THAT'S THE IMPORTANT PIECE AS WELL. I THINK OUR READMISSION RATES REALLY SAY A LOT FOR HOW WELL WE'RE DOING AND MAKING SURE THOSE PATIENTS UNDERSTAND THEIR REGIMEN OF CARE WHEN THEY DO GO HOME. SOUTHWEST HEALTH SYSTEMS RECEIVED THE ABOVE AND BEYOND AWARD FOR ADOPTING THE PROTOCOLS AND MEETING THE GOALS OF THE COLORADO RURAL HEALTH CENTER'S I-CARE PROGRAM THAT ESTABLISHED IN 2010 TO IMPROVE POST-TREATMENT CARE AND REDUCE AVOIDABLE HOSPITAL READMISSIONS.
THE STAFF ARE REALLY ENGAGED WITH THE COMMUNITY, AND SO THEY REALLY HAVE A GOOD READ ON WHAT WiLL BE, WILL BE ABLE TO BE ACCOMPLISHED BY THE PATIENTS. SO WE'RE SCHEDULING FOLLOWUPS THAT MEET THEIR NEEDS. SO SCHEDULING THAT FOLLOW UP, BASED ON THEIR RIDE, BASED ON THEIR CURRENT SOCIAL SITUATION, WAS REALLY IMPORTANT. AND SO I THINK THAT MOST OF THE STAFF HERE HAS LIVED IN THE COMMUNITY FOR A WHILE AND UNDERSTANDS THE NEEDS. AND SO THAT HELPED A LOT. HOSPITAL OFFICIALS SAY THE I-CARE AWARD IS A SHOT IN THE ARM FOR STAFF MORALE FOLLOWING TWO YEARS OF HEMORRHAGING BUDGET DEFICITS THAT FORCED THE HEALTH SYSTEM TO CUT ITS WORKFORCE BY MORE THAN 20 PERCENT. THE BUDGT HAS RECOVERED, AND THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM ENDED 2019 WITH A ROBUST BUDGET BALANCE OF 9 MILLION DOLLARS. AND AS PROMISED, QUALITY OF CARE DIDN'T SUFFER. IN FACT, IT IMPROVED.
THAT'S WHAT'S REALLY EXCITING ABOUT THIS AWARD IS THAT IT REALLY SHOWS THAT WE ACCOMPLISHED WHAT WE SET OUT TO DO. WE WEREN'T GOING TO LET OUR QUALITY FALL OFF, EVEN THOUGH MOST PEOPLE EXPECTED THAT TO HAPPEN WHEN YOU HAVE, WE HAD ALMOST A 20 PERCENT REDUCTION IN OUR WORKFORCE. SO YOU THINK THAT THAT'S GOING TO HAVE SOME EFFECTS ON THAT, BUT JUST THE OPPOSITE, ACTUALLY. WE BECAME MORE EFFICIENT, BECAME MORE FOCUSED ON LOOKING AT QUALITY AND MADE THAT A REAL PRIORITY. SO EVERY STEP, EVERY CHANGE THAT WE MADE ALONG THE WAY, WE MADE SURE THAT THAT WAS, YOU KNOW, AT THE FOREFRONT OF WHAT WE WERE DOING. IF YOU'D LIKE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT SOUTHWEST HEALTH SYSTEM, VISIT S W HEALTH DOT ORG. THANKS FOR WATCHING THIS EDITION OF LOCAL NEWS NETWORK. IF YOU'D LIKE TO SEE THIS STORY AGAIN, VISIT OUR WEBSITE WHERE YOU CAN SIGN UP TO HAVE US DELIVER YOUR NEWS DIRECTLY INTO YOUR INBOX. I'M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE FOR THE LOCAL NEWS NETWORK.

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