NVH to invest in Extended Care, set up Veteran's Advisory Board

TONASKET – North Valley Hospital CEO Mike Zwicker said a Nurse Rededication program held Wednesday, May 11, was such a success the hospital would like to make it an annual event and possibly extend it to other departments in the hospital district.

“It was an awe-inspiring event,” said Zwicker, adding that even retired nurses and nurses employed elsewhere attended. “It’s on the WISHA website, so people all over the state got to see this, and we hope it makes an impression for others to follow suit. We are a leader of change and appreciation.”

Twenty-six nurses went through the ceremony, with a total of 50 people in attendance.

Zwicker reported results from the state survey were received last week and NVH has ten days to review areas noted in need of improvement with a plan sent back to the state detailing how the improvements will be made and sustained.

“The good news is, these are all easy fixes; the majority are process changes that can be fixed through education,” said Zwicker.

Zwicker reported a Veterans Dale White and Michael Stewart would like to create a Veteran’s Advisory Board to keep the board engaged with issues with the Veteran’s Clinic. The advisory board would include White and Stewart along with one NVH District board member.

Zwicker said that purchase of an electronic medical records system EMR for the Extended Care discussed at the last board meeting is not budgeted for and would cost around $70,000.

“It’s not to say we don’t need it, but we have other issues on the capital list such as flooring and windows; and down the road a new roof we would like to get quotes on and bring before the board,” Zwicker said.

Extended Care Director Linda Holden said windows that are hard to open or close are problematic and cracks in the floor have been an ongoing issue.

“I always worry because the place doesn’t look the way I would like it to look, and I think addressing these issues would send a message to the community that we are investing in our nursing home,” said Holden.

Board member Herb Wandler said gauges in the floors in resident rooms were caused by the old beds.

“We got new beds, but that didn’t take care of the floors,” said Wandler.

Zwicker said the hospital is pursuing quotes on the needed items, and hopefully they would be able to get an energy-efficiency grant to help pay for new windows.

“We want to show the community as well as employees and patients that we care about the place and it is here to stay. Perhaps the EMR will be affordable in the next couple of years,” said Zwicker. “I feel good about this decision. We are giving Extended Care some overdue attention.”

Ancillary Director Noreen Olma and Shauneen Range from the Purchasing Department

presented a report on some projects tackled by the Lean Six Committee on Front Line Improvement (FLI). Olma said the principles of the projects were to remove waste, improve efficiency and create flexibility and adaptability to support expansion of services.

One project taken on was to have room 110 as a viable room for a swing bed.

“It had become a dump site for equipment, including surplussed stuff that needed gotten rid of,” said Range. “Now it is almost down to bare concrete; we are still trying to find storage areas for the extra, vital equipment.”

When closets in the board room were cleared out, Range said usable binders found there saved the hospital $450.10, as she orders those on a weekly basis.

Olma said other staff members had some trepidation about members of the Lean Six Committee, whom they referred to as ‘clipboard carriers.’

“We explained, don’t be afraid, we are trying to make your jobs easier to do. With our next projects, we will be working in the departments and getting more of a buy in from staff,” said Olma.

“The front line workers are emailing their suggestions,” said Range. “They are already thinking of ways to save steps.”

Helen Verhasselt reported the hospital had 77 days cash on hand as of Thursday, May 12.

The next two regular board meetings are scheduled for May 26 and June 9, beginning at 7 p.m.