Mountaintop Medicine: Estes Park Health is committed to patient safety
At the turn of the century, the Institute of Medicine (now known as the National Academy of Medicine) published a landmark report called “To Err is Human” which showed preventable medical errors harm or kill between 98,000 and 440,000 patients a year in the United States.
In the ensuing decades, patient safety has become a major focus of organizations all over the country, including Estes Park Health.
“That report highlighted the significance of avoidable or preventable harm that occurs within healthcare,” said Kendra Simms, MS, BSN, RN. “As the Senior Director of Patient Safety and Quality at Estes Park Health, my department is always looking to improve. We want to make sure that when patients walk through our doors, we are providing the best and safest care that we can.”
The American Society for Health Care Risk Management recognizes National Patient Safety Week and the “role in which patient safety professionals contribute to ASHRM’s mission of advancing patient safety, reducing uncertainty and maximizing value.”
Kendra is the head of a five-person team at Estes Park Health that handles all aspects of patient safety, from training employees to infection control to addressing errors.
“All nurses and doctors come to work to do their best every day,” Kendra stressed. “But we work in a very complex system. During the pandemic, we actually had to push all of the visitors outside of our hospital. They are our second, third, fourth set of eyes because they know the patients the best. Reintegrating patients and families into their care is going to be instrumental in moving us forward in patient safety. Getting people back in here is important to us so we can all come back together as a community.”
Estes Park Health holds a daily safety huddle with clinical leaders to prepare for any challenging cases or procedures in the day ahead. It’s not just medical care that constitutes patient safety.
“Even on every snow day, I remind people it’s all of our responsibilities to wipe up all of that wet water so people don’t come in and slip and trip and fall,” Kendra added.
Patient safety advocates note that it can be frustrating for patients when they have to repeat their name and date of birth each time they are given a medication or treatment. But double checking information can be critical to ensuring that the right person gets the right care and the right dose at the right time.
“I know that sometimes people do have bad experiences,” Kendra noted. “We’re all human. But at the end of the day, care is very safe here at Estes Park Health.”
If a patient or a family member has any question or concern about their care, they can call Estes Park Health and ask for a patient representative.