On Wednesday, March 29, members of the Ashley County Medical Center (ACMC) team celebrated the hospital’s achievements along with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Institute for Digital Health & Innovation (UAMS-IDHI) POWER Team.
The team was present to congratulate ACMC and its staff on becoming one of only three healthcare facilities in the state to be recognized by UAMS as an emPOWERed Birthplace.
Tina Pennington is the POWER Team’s nursing outreach coordinator for the southeast. Pennington said becoming part of the team and getting ACMC involved was “personal.”
Pennington said that some parts of the state are “huge maternal deserts, and that’s scary.”
She said in those areas, expectant mothers have to drive for an hour or more to receive prenatal care.
“That’s why it’s important that ACMC has been recognized for the work they’ve done to provide care to expectant mothers in this area,” said Pennington.
She said she was thankful for the opportunity to say “thank you” to the ACMC team, “for putting patient safety and care first.”
Dawn Brown is the clinical program director for the POWER team.
Brown said, “As health care providers, we are looking for things to do to keep those rural health care facilities thriving.”
Brown stated, “The program started in March of 2020, with four pilot hospitals throughout the state.”
Brown outlined the goal of the program.
“We wanted to create a framework and be able to document” the data gathered, and the process itself.
Brown said, “We took a year, had virtual meeting sessions. The results were that three out of four of the hospitals achieved 100 percent of their safety bundles.”
Safety bundles are a structured way to improve processes of care and patient outcomes. They are not a grouping of new guidelines; they are a way to organize existing information and tools into a process that is easily implemented and used in a consistent and universal manner for the benefit of the patient.
The POWER team’s OB outreach coordinator, Shari Drakes, stated, “This process is important for the smaller community hospitals, because the bigger hospitals have the support they don’t have.”
Laurie Kilcrease, BSN/RN, OB/nursery manager, said of ACMC achieving the status of emPOWERed Birthplace, “We couldn’t have done it without the physicians on board.”
She explained, “It is so helpful to have a systematic approach to a policy.”
A statement released by ACMC explains their involvement with the POWER team.
“The ACMC and UAMS collaborated on an 18-month project to reduce postpartum mortality rates and improve the health and well-being of new mothers,” it states. In addition, it states that Kilcrease “presented the work at the 2022 Spring POWER conference at the Rockefeller Institute.”
The statement explained, “By improving readiness, recognition, response, and collecting quality improvement data, the maternal infant staff successfully implemented safety bundles surrounding severe hypertension in pregnancy and postpartum hemorrhage.”
The statement continued, “By instituting policies and educating staff, ACMC has increased situational awareness and improved response times to obstetrical emergencies.
“Expectant mothers can feel confident the care they receive is evidence-based and meets, or exceeds, the standard of care.”
There are currently two OB/GYNs serving Ashley County. They are Dr. Kara Worley and Dr. Ira Murphy.
Murphy stated that this process is important, because patients will not have to travel elsewhere to ensure they are getting the proper prenatal care.
“They don’t have to wait; they can get care right away,” said Murphy.
“It prevents the delay in starting medicine, which supports patient safety.”
Worley said, “We take ownership…and they chose ACMC to be a part of this program because all these protocols had to be studied and approved by OB/GYN boards and followed.”
Worley added, “When everyone follows these protocols they become second nature.”
Worley said that now, expectant mothers can add to their confidence about choosing ACMC and its staff to receive excellent prenatal health care, and to deliver their newborn safely.
She said not only do they have herself and Dr. Murphy, but also two pediatricians on the hospital staff as well.
Pennington commended the staff and said of their hospital, “You have a real pearl here in southeast Arkansas.”
ACMC Director of Nursing Mattie Keaster thanked Kilcrease for the time and work she and her staff put into the program.
“We wouldn’t be as strong as we are without that leadership,” she told Kilcrease.