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Views differ on concepts of care

By Kathy Chaffin
Salisbury Post
HUNTERSVILLE ó An environmental services employee took time from her job to hold the hand of a frightened elderly man waiting to go into surgery.
She’s the type of employee at Presbyterian Hospital Huntersville who Jeff Lindsay talks about. Being there for patients is part of the job for every employee, according to Lindsay, Presbyterian-Huntersville’s president.
In this case, the employee was cleaning the man’s room when she realized he was going into surgery without the support of family. So she did her best to reassure him.
In another situation, Lindsay says, the wife of a patient dying of cancer wrote him after her husband’s death, expressing her appreciation to a food and nutrition employee for befriending her during the difficult time.
“While it didn’t take away the loss she had suffered,” Lindsay says she wrote in the letter, “it helped make it so much more bearable than it would have been if she had been facing it alone.”
Lindsay says he shares those stories as examples of how Presbyterian Huntersville and other Novant facilities live up to their vision statement of delivering patients “the most remarkable experience in every dimension, every time.”
“It’s those small things that add up every day to create a remarkable experience,” he says. “We find out what our patients need, and we find a way to provide that for them or their families.”
Patients expect excellence and compassion from their physicians and nurses, but at Presbyterian Huntersville, “they get that same care from the people who prepare their food and clean their rooms,” Lindsay says.
Delivering a remarkable experience, he says, “is about every single person who interacts with patients from the moment they walk into the door until they get a phone call at home asking about their care.
“We recognize that without the absolute commitment to providing the remarkable patient experience from every member of the team, we won’t be successful.”
A personable man and passionate speaker, Lindsay talked about Presbyterian Huntersville, open a little more than three years, at public hearings on the proposed Rowan Regional Medical Center South.
Rowan Regional, which merged with Novant Health last month, wants to model its proposed 50-bed Kannapolis community hospital after the Huntersville facility in design and operation.
Located at 10030 Gilead Road, Presbyterian Hunters-ville is a three-story brick hospital. The 200,000-square-foot facility features a spacious lobby and wide curving hallway with ceiling-to-floor windows tinted blue on the outside.
Patients being admitted to the hospital have the option of valet parking, starting at 5:30 a.m., which is particularly helpful to elderly people and people arriving early in the morning for surgery.
The first stop on a tour of the hospital, with Lindsay as the guide, is the office of Chaplain Tricia Gardner, who holds an annual “Blessing of the Hands” ceremony for staff. Employees say it’s the highlight of their year, Lindsay says.
The next door on the left leads into a large chapel with floor-length block glass windows and three rows of chairs.
Emergency room
The hallway continues to the 21-bay Emergency Department, where two of the bays have equipment for trauma patients.
Last year, 30,444 people came to the Emergency Department. Of those, 9.96 percent were admitted and 1.9 percent transferred to medical centers offering more specialized care.
Of the 5,187 patients admitted to Presbyterian Huntersville last year, 58.47 percent came through the Emergency Department.
Officials are gearing up to expand the Emergency Department to include an eight-room Clinician Decision Unit for patients who need to be observed longer for physicians to decide whether to admit them.
Dr. Joshua Sarett, director of Emergency Department Services, says patients needing surgery or more specialized treatment are able to receive it quicker in a hospital than they would in a freestanding emergency department, like the one being proposed by Carolinas Medical Center-NorthEast in Concord.
“I would be very nervous in a place where I didn’t have the level of backup I need for surgical assistance,” he says.
While the tour group is hearing about the Emergency Department, a young woman walks by carrying a Jack Russell terrier. That’s one of the pet therapy dogs that visits patients, Lindsay explains.
Mary Chav carries her dog, Tyler, who wears an ID badge saying, “I am a Therapy Dog.”
Next on the tour is the intensive-care unit featuring a family waiting room and four ICU rooms.
Private rooms
Each of the 42 medical-surgery beds is private and features an online patient education channel, flat-screen TVs with DVD and VCR players and wireless Internet.
Lights placed discreetly in the ceiling do not have the sharp glare of the lights in older hospital rooms, and medical equipment hides behind cabinetry.
Rooms are family-friendly, with sofas that double as day beds for overnight stays and a hidden storage area underneath. Patients order meals at their convenience from a menu in the room.
Instead of the traditional central station, nurses work at smaller substations set up along the hallways so they’re closer to patients.
Maternity care
The Family Maternity Center has 12 labor-delivery-recovery-postpartum suites with plenty of room for the family.
“It’s real nice to have a lot of extra comfort things for the mom and the rest of the family,” Lindsay says. The Internet connection also allows new mothers to create a Web site for their babies.
Last year, 1,036 babies were born at Presbyterian Huntersville.
A recent addition is a Level III intensive-care nursery for babies needing more intense care.
“It allows us to keep those babies closer to home instead of sending them to another center like downtown Charlotte,” Lindsay says. “It’s stressful enough to have a baby that’s not doing as well as the family had hoped … but to have to travel to be with the baby is very difficult.”
Presbyterian Huntersville has four operating rooms, and Lindsay says the N.C. Division of Health Service Regulation has issued a conditional certificate of need for two rooms for outpatient surgeries.
Of the hospital’s 60 beds, an average of 55 stay full. “We’re running over 90 percent every day,” Lindsay says.
When the hospital opened in November 2004, it employed 300 employees. In mid-2007, he says 500 employees worked for the hospital, while the most recent count was 670.
“We’ve continued to grow,” Lindsay says.
Another 500 people, including physicians affiliated with Presbyterian Huntersville, work for medical practices which opened after the hospital. In addition, a retail development employing 1,000 people sprang up next door.
Satisfaction ranking
According to the Professional Research Consul-tants database, Presbyterian Huntersville ranks in the top 2 percent in the nation in patient satisfaction.
“I’m proud of our team,” Lindsay says. “It’s an honor for me to work with a team which cares so much about patients.”
The hospital ranks in the top 10 percent on physician satisfaction and 1 percent on employee satisfaction.
“We always say that we have to attract and keep the best and most talented employees available anywhere to be successful,” Lindsay says, “and that’s what our leadership team focuses on every day.”
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249 or kchaffin@salisburypost.com.

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