SCHA Recognized for Leadership in Health Care Quality Improvement

The South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) has received the Dick Davidson Quality Milestone Award for its work to improve health care quality.  This award recognizes state, regional or metropolitan hospital associations that demonstrate leadership and innovation in quality improvement and contribute to national health care improvement efforts. 

“The works of these hospital associations are shining examples of what can be achieved in quality improvement,” said AHA president and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. “As leaders they inspire and enable their members to transform the care in their state.  It is from leading organizations such as these that real change and improvement is made for the benefit of patients and communities,” according to AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock, who announced that SCHA and the Michigan Hospital Association would each receive the Davidson award for their efforts to facilitate exceptional health care quality and patient safety for all citizens.

“It is exciting and very gratifying to be recognized at this level for the work of our association and our member hospitals. However, we truly do share this recognition with all of our partners who continue to work closely with us to make sure that South Carolinians are getting the best care we can provide. We have made a lot of progress, but we still face many challenges. One of those is to improve the overall health status of our population which ranks among the bottom each year when state health rankings are released,” SCHA President and CEO Thornton Kirby said.

SCHA partners with nearly 40 other organizations in a state-wide effort known as “Every Patient Counts.”  The mission of the partnership is to identify new ways to improve patient safety and quality of care delivered in the state and to spread those best practices to all providers.

South Carolina’s accomplishments include a regionalized system for heart attack care that has reduced South Carolina’s statewide average Door-to Balloon time  from 93 minutes to 60 minutes (37% improvement) over a three-year period and infection control efforts that have achieved a 69% reduction in blood stream infections over 18 months, compared to a 40 percent reduction nationally. 

“We’ve been on an amazing journey in South Carolina which has proven that collaboration among all interested parties is the way to achieve real solutions to the problems that plague our health care system,” said Rick Foster, MD, senior vice president for quality and patient safety at SCHA.

“And obviously one of the most interested parties in health care is the patient.  We continue to work for meaningful ways to provide patient-centered care, which means that the patient has to be involved in the treatment. A good example of that is our hospitals’ implementation of rapid response teams that can be called in by the patient or the family if they have concerns about the condition of the patient that they believe are not being appropriately addressed,” Foster added.    

South Carolina has also been recognized by the federal government as one of the top five states for improvement in its health care. And last year, noted surgeon, author and teacher Atul Gawande, MD, of Harvard Medical School recruited South Carolina to serve as the model for a nation-wide effort to improve the safety of surgery through use of a surgical checklist.

“Almost every hospital you go to is trying something to change quality and results and safety of their care. But we haven’t learned how to take the best lessons and make sure they spread widely,” according to Gawande. Calling SCHA’s statewide approach “revolutionary”, he said that SCHA is working with all hospitals in South Carolina, to “take the best lessons in childbirth, in surgical safety, in the safety of ICU care . . .  to the front lines in ways you can count on as a patient.”

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