2010 Lewis Blackman Patient Safety Award Winners

Change can be a scary thing. Changing schools or jobs, for example, intimidates many people. But in the Lewis Blackman Patient Safety Champion Awards, sponsored by the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA), Health Sciences South Carolina (HSSC), PHT Services, Ltd., and Mothers Against Medical Errors, change is good. Today at the Third Annual South Carolina Patient Safety Symposium, four "transformers" were recognized for their efforts in making South Carolina hospitals better and safer for patients.

The Lewis Blackman Patient Safety Champion Award winners for 2010 are: Jan Vick, a hairdresser from Chesterfield who turned a personal tragedy into a new role as patient advocate; Dr. Robert Adams, a neurologist at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston who is transforming stroke care across the state; Susan McWilliam, a nurse at Hillcrest Memorial Hospital in Simpsonville who is changing the way nurses are educated; and Dr. Mary Jo Cagle, who has brought national recognition to Greenville's Bon Secours St. Francis Health System for its safety performance.

The Lewis Blackman Patient Safety Champion Awards were created in 2008 by SCHA to recognize individuals who have demonstrated exemplary dedication and leadership in advancing the quality and safety of health care for patients across South Carolina. The awards are named in honor of Lewis Blackman, a 15-year-old who died in 2000 after an elective surgical procedure due to potentially preventable medical complications.

Jan Vick, the Advocacy Award winner, lost her twin sister to a medical error death in 2004. The grief stricken Vick looked for a positive way to channel her energy. She took up the banner of health care safety, and in 2009, formalized her advocacy efforts as the founder and executive director of South Carolina Voices for Patient Safety, a nonprofit organization committed to raising awareness of patient safety in South Carolina.

Vick serves on numerous boards and committees as a patient advocate, including the South Carolina Heart Care Quality Alliance Board, the Health Sciences South Carolina's Patient Advisory Committee, the South Carolina State Advocate Committee, and various South Carolina Hospital Association committees. She has been involved as a patient advocate in the development of South Carolina's Mission: Lifeline program to improve myocardial infarction care.

Dr. Robert Adams is one of two Caregiver Award winners. Dr. Adams came to MUSC in 2005 as a professor in the MUSC Department of Neurosciences and the endowed chair in the Stroke Center of Economic Excellence supported by Health Sciences South Carolina. His vision was to reduce the life-changing effects of stroke by using telemedicine to connect MUSC stroke experts with South Carolina's small and rural hospitals. He also sought to increase the safe use the "clot-busting" drug, tPA, a FDA approved but little used treatment for ischemic stroke.

In just 18 months, Dr. Adams and his team recruited nine hospitals to the REACH Stroke Network: Coastal Carolina Medical Center, Georgetown Memorial Hospital, Grand Strand Regional Medical Center, Marion County Medical Center, McLeod Health, Piedmont Medical Center, Self Regional Healthcare, Waccamaw Community Hospital, and Williamsburg Hospital. These hospitals now have 24/7 access to MUSC stroke experts who assist local ER physicians on the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients. As of January, more than 200 stroke consults had been completed and the use of tPA to treat ischemic strokes has quadrupled in REACH Stroke Network partners. Thanks to Dr. Adams and the REACH Stroke Network, increasing numbers of South Carolinians receive expert stroke care regardless of where they live.

Susan McWilliam, the second Caregiver Award recipient, is a clinical nurse educator at Hillcrest Memorial Hospital in Simpsonville. She is a self-proclaimed "change agent" for inpatient hospital care, focusing her efforts on educating future nurses. She has developed nursing school curriculum that weaves critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and caring throughout nursing students" classes. She also teaches nursing students to treat every patient like a dear family member. McWilliam has worked across Hillcrest Memorial Hospital departments and across the Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center to ensure nurses have the knowledge, skills, and clinical support to respond to critical changes in the condition of patients..

Dr. Mary Jo Cagle, the Healthcare Executive Award winner, is the chief medical officer at Bon Secours St. Francis Health System in Greenville. When she took the job in 2005, she set about fostering a system-wide culture of patient safety. Under Dr. Cagle's leadership, St. Francis earned the South Carolina Governor's Award for Quality in 2008, and successfully completed the implementation of one of South Carolina's first fully integrated electronic medical records systems in 2009, which reduced medication error rates and improved patient safety.
Dr. Cagle set the goal for St. Francis to become a national model in decreasing hospital-acquired infections. Since 2007, there have been zero hospital-acquired central line associated blood stream infections at St. Francis. This was a key factor in St. Francis being recognized as a 2009 Top National Hospital by LeapFrog and honored in the March 2010 issue of Consumer Reports.

About Every Patient Counts
An initiative of the South Carolina Hospital Association, Every Patient Counts is a South Carolina collaborative partnership composed of members from health care, business, insurance, public policy, and the public at large to improve patient safety and quality in the state's hospitals. Every Patient Counts seeks to establish a culture of continuous improvement in quality and safety across all hospitals statewide. Specific examples of initiatives are focused on eliminating healthcare-associated infections, creating a regional system for mycroaradian infarcation (heart attack) care, reducing medication errors, and promoting safe surgeries. For more information, visit www.everypatient.net.

About the South Carolina Hospital Association
Founded in 1921, the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) is the leadership organization and principal advocate for the state's hospitals and healthcare systems. Based in Columbia, SCHA works with its members to improve access, quality, and cost-effectiveness of health care for all South Carolinians. The state's hospitals and healthcare systems employ more than 70,000 persons statewide. ?For information, visit www.scha.org.


PHOTO CUTLINE: Recipients of the 2010 Lewis Blackman Patient Safety Champion Awards. (Left to right: Health Sciences South Carolina President and CEO Jay Moskowitz, Helen Haskell, Susan McWilliam, SCHA President and CEO Thornton Kirby, Dr. Mary Jo Cagle, Dr. Robert Adams, Jan Vick and SCHA Senior Vice President Rick Foster.

03-25-2010 12:00 (EDT)