Valley Baptist Medical recognized for patient safety

HARLINGEN — They’ve done it again. For the third year in a row, Valley Baptist Medical Center has earned a Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade of A.

Staff members couldn’t be happier about being recognized for their patient safety measures.

“We feel that it recognizes the hard work and dedication that we put into patient safety each and every day,” said Dr. Christopher Romero, doctor of internal medicine at Valley Baptist.

The work includes repeated hand washing to prevent the spread of infectious diseases from one patient to another and sometimes isolating patients to keep from infecting others.

“It’s nice to get recognized for that, but it’s something that we do regardless just because it’s the right thing to do for our patients,” Romero said. “It’s the result of a number of preventive initiatives occurring simultaneously, improving quality of care house wide. It really does take all of our staff from the people cleaning our floors to physicians doing procedures.”

Everyone working at the hospital receives training on safety procedures, said Roy Evans, chief quality officer for the hospital.

“It starts with new hire orientation,” Evans said. “When people come here they understand our mission is for the organization and the expectation to provide ongoing quality treatment and services. There are expectations from every clinician whether it’s a nurse, physical therapist, or respiratory therapist.”

Romero said the hospital engages in rigorous procedures to reduce hospital-acquired conditions and infections.

“Some of the things we do to prevent them is reiterate to all of our staff the importance of hand hygiene to reduce infections within,” Romero said. “If we have a patient who is identified to have an infection that’s at the risk of spreading, we have efforts and methods to put them in some level of isolation or at least reduce contact.”

Special precautions are taken when using intravenous catheters, which can leave the patient open to infection.

“We make sure we use them only when they are medically necessary and remove them as soon as possible,” Romero said. “Best practices are followed to make sure they are kept clean and reduce the incidence of infection.”

Those best practices also include the placement of foam soap dispensers outside every room. Anytime anyone enters a patient’s room, they must first wash up. That includes visitors.

“The patients have family members come in, they have visitors that come in, and the physicians,” Evans said. “So we also make sure we educate the patients’ families and friends. The patients, we educate them to make sure that when a nurse comes in or a physician comes in or a therapist comes in, that they are cleaning their hands.”

Both Evans and Romero emphasized this would be the normal routine with or without the recognition from Leapfrog, but it’s still a nice distinction.

“They look at health care facilities throughout the country and they share this with businesses and employers,” Evans said. “If those businesses and employers have a choice with their health care plans, they will want employees to go to hospitals that provide a safe environment for their patients. If you have a hospital that has a safety grade of a D or C and one that’s A, those companies are going to look at hospitals that excel.”