Eleven Maine Hospitals Selected for National Quality Improvement Effort | Health

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Eleven Maine Hospitals Selected for National Quality Improvement Effort
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Eleven hospitals across Maine will participate in the Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) Hospital Quality Network, an innovative, nationwide program led by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The AF4Q initiative is RWJF’s signature effort to lift the overall quality of health care in targeted communities, as well as reduce racial and ethnic disparities and provide models for national reform. Maine’s AF4Q initiative is led by Quality Counts in close collaboration with the Maine Health Management Coalition and the Dirigo Health Agency’s Maine Quality Forum.

During the AF4Q Hospital Quality Network, hospital teams will work together to improve the quality and safety of patient care by piloting and testing new quality improvement strategies over an 18-month period. More specifically, they will work to help reduce the amount of time spent waiting in emergency departments, ensure that patients who are discharged from the hospital aren’t readmitted because they missed important elements of their care, or improve how they communicate with diverse patients.
 
“There is a lot that is right about Maine’s health care system, including good hospitals with providers who care about people having access to safe, high-quality care,” said Elizabeth Mitchell, CEO of the Maine Health Management Coalition. “But here, as everywhere, there are gaps in quality. We can help close those gaps so every patient receives excellent care every time. The selected hospitals are part of an effort to systematically improve care throughout Maine. We’re bringing together the people who give care, get care, and pay for care to make lasting changes right here at home.”

Two of the selected hospitals, Central Maine Medical Center and Mercy Hospital have already been involved in improving hospital communications during the past year through participation in the AF4Q Language Quality Improvement (QI) Collaborative.

“The work of the Language QI Collaborative has been a prelude to the launch of the Hospital Quality Network,” said Ted Rooney, RN, MPH, project leader of the Maine AF4Q initiative. “Teams at Central Maine Medical Center and Mercy Hospital have worked diligently during the past year to identify and test ways for hospitals to provide timely, effective language services to patients who speak or understand little or no English.”

“When patients are unable to communicate key information to their providers, the result can be missed diagnoses and medical errors,” continued Rooney. “We’re so grateful to Central Maine Medical Center and Mercy Hospital for taking the lead on this vitally important work.”

“Improving the quality of data collected on race, ethnicity, and preferred spoken and written languages is a precursor to indentifying the unique needs of Maine’s culturally diverse populations,” commented Jessica Loney, RN, MSN, Community Health Education Coordinator at Mid Coast Hospital, who serves as diversity coordinator for the Maine AF4Q initiative. “This data can then be used to design culturally and linguistically appropriate services to move the system toward greater health equity for everyone.”

As part of the Improving Language Services component of the AF4Q Hospital Quality Network, hospital teams will continue to work to improve the care of patients who speak or understand little or no English and will work to ensure that these patients receive their initial assessment and discharge instruction from a qualified language services provider. These two points in care are especially critical for ensuring that quality outcomes result. 

“We are excited to participate in this effort to evaluate and improve the language services we provide to our patients,” said Laird Covey, president, Central Maine Medical Center. “We hope to share lessons we learn with other hospitals and health care agencies in the community and work together to ensure patients needing language services receive them.”

“Our goal is to break down any communications barriers to help ensure that all of our patients receive the best care possible,” said Eileen Skinner, CEO of Mercy Hospital. “This program will allow our staff to work with other hospitals across the nation and identify the best ways to improve care for our patients who speak a primary language other than English.” 

Other components of the AF4Q Hospital Quality Network include Reducing Readmissions and Increasing Throughput (which refers to the process of getting patients through the emergency department in a timely manner, to be treated and released or assigned a bed). Slow throughput frustrates patients and doesn’t result in the highest-quality care. To increase throughput, teams will focus on making their emergency departments more efficient.

To reduce readmissions, teams will focus on cardiac care, with the specific goal of reducing readmission rates among heart patients. The initiative will focus on cardiac care because, whether experiencing a heart attack, heart failure or other conditions, the recommended standard of care for cardiac patients is clear and accepted among medical professionals nationwide.

Hospitals participating in the AF4Q Hospital Quality Network in Maine are:

Central Maine Medical Center, Lewiston
 
Eastern Maine Medical Center, Bangor

HD Goodall Hospital, Sanford

Maine Medical Center, Portland
 
MaineGeneral Medical Center, Augusta
 
Mercy Hospital, Portland
 
Mid Coast Hospital, Brunswick

Penobscot Bay Medical Center, Rockport

Penobscot Valley Hospital, Lincoln
 
Redington-Fairview General Hospital, Skowhegan
 
Rumford Hospital, Rumford

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