Swing Beds Aren’t for the Front Porch

A rural hospital must be many things to many people. It is a trauma center for emergencies. A facility that accommodates equipment and technology offering MRI’s to endoscopy to pain management. And are medical centers with surgical facilities and with the means of caring for the ill. Swing bed units are what rural hospitals can offer the people in their communities and have available for patients’ recovery, with skilled nursing care.

CHI Mercy Health is one of those rural hospitals, because it’s a Critical Access Hospital (CAH) and a Medicare provider. CHI Mercy can use its rooms, “beds” as they’re called, to provide patients with either acute or skilled nursing facility (SNF) care–the beds therefore “swing” between the two. The swing bed (also called transitional care unit) concept allows a hospital to use its beds interchangeably for either acute-care or recovery care.

This is a great asset to a area like Barnes County. Patients don’t need to go to a nursing home to recover; they can recover at the hospital. Swing bed units can be used to rehabilitate patients recovering from surgeries, illnesses, or accidents. Debbie Anderson MS LPC NCC, our director of social and behavior services states, “During a swing bed stay,” said Debbie Anderson MS LPC NCC, “the staff here at CHI Mercy Health work as a team to rehabilitate the body, mind, and spirit of the patients. We feel it is a valuable part of their rehabilitation; the psychosocial aspect is as equally important as the medical side of things, if not more important.” Anderson is the Director of Social and Behavior Services at CHI Mercy Health.

Any patient receiving Medicare benefits is eligible for a swing bed stay after three-day qualifying stay in the hospital or nursing home. The three-day requirement does not apply to non-Medicare patients. There is no Medicare requirement to place a swing bed patient in a nursing home, and there are no requirements for transfer agreements between hospitals and nursing homes.

Swing bed unit at CHI Mercy Health is a wonderful alternative from either going home too early, or into a nursing home. A patient can recover in a private hospital room setting, receiving care, therapies, and discharge planning services to make certain that the patient is taken well care of in their home community while in recovery.

“Swing bed patients aren’t ill,” said Anderson. “They’re in recovery and rehabilitation, and stay here for therapy or for safe keeping until their families can take them home, or find the nursing home placement that meets the family needs, and these stays can be for extended periods of time because there is no length of stay restriction for any hospital swing bed patient.”

It’s that extra time healing, recovering, that’s so important. The longer the patient can stay, the better the outcome. “If they’re participating in activities, they’re eating, said Anderson. “And if they’re eating, they’re healing. It all works together, as do we, often forming close bonds with patients and their families. It’s one of the advantages of working in a small community hospital.”

For more information on taking advantage of a swing bed stay and skilled nursing care during recovery, call CHI Mercy Hospital, 701-845-6400.

Cleanliness Is the Best Preparedness

Truly, there is no need for panic. Yes, Ebola is a deadly disease, but there are many others out there. But with any disease, being prepared is the best offense. And in fact, Ebola is quite easily contained and eliminated with simple, everyday cleaning products.

CHI Mercy Health is preparing for Ebola, but there’s no reason for panic. CHI Mercy Health prepares for the flu season every year, too. And bad colds, respiratory illnesses, and anything else that goes around especially in the winter. We always prepare because our patients need protecting–their health is often already weakened.

“We are working on plans right now to prepare and protect our staff,” said Susan Kringlie, Infection Preventionist at CHI Mercy Health. “There’s no need to worry–there’s been lots in the news lately–but we have plans locally and at the state and federal government levels.”

The Ebola virus isn’t airborne, said Kringlie. The transmission of the virus occurs with direct contact of blood or body fluids. A person needs to actually touch the infected individual blood or body fluids, if the person is infectious.

“The virus just doesn’t fly in the air,” said Kringlie. “It can only be transmitted and contracted through contact with the blood or body fluid of the infected patient. Washing hands and equipment cleaning is very, very important.”

The Ebola is easily killed with simple cleaning products. “The Ebola virus is an easily killed virus,” said Kringlie, “much like the cold virus. So if you use bleach, or EPA-approved disinfectants, that should stop the transmission. So don’t be afraid, and wash your hands.” Which is why cleanliness is the best preparedness, not only for Ebola, but for every disease, including influenza or the Flu.
For more information, contact Susan Kringlie, at 845-6447.

Mammograms at Mercy: National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

“Not too many people know we do mammograms right here,” said Barbara Waite-Clark. “We have the latest in digital technology right here in this hospital, and it’s a lot more comfortable and personable right here.” Waite-Clark is a Mammographer and Radiologic Technologist at CHI Mercy Health in Valley City, ND.

One in eight women in the U.S., will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetimes, Waite-Clark said, and is emphatic that women have a mammogram once a year. “The fact is that women should begin having mammograms when they turn forty,” she said, “because by the time they turn fifty, it could be too late. Breast cancer needs to be caught early. It’s not the number of women who develop breast cancer, but it’s how young they are when they do. We need to catch it early.”

CHI Mercy Health has offered mammograms for a number of years, but in Valley City this is a hidden gem of a health service offered right at the hospital. The equipment used for mammography at Mercy is all digital. The room large and private. And it all is easily accessible, especially for the handicapped.

Women should get their yearly screening from their primary caregiver, and then call as no referral is needed, to CHI Mercy Health to make an appointment.

For more information on mammography and mammograms and CHI Mercy Health, call the Radiology department at 701-845-6441. And Like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter for events and timely and topical health tips.

Mercy Is Prepared for the Flu

Flu season is fast approaching and health care facilities around the country are preparing. CHI Mercy Health, in Valley City, has stocked flu vaccines to give all its pa-tients and its frontline staff–nurses, doctors, aides–who come into contact daily with the most vulnerable.

“We are prepared again this year,” said Susan Kringlie, Infection Control Practitioner at Mercy. “We have plenty of doses for our employees and in-patients. We feel that it’s very important to assure the safety of our patients, visitors and staff. That is why we promote the use of flu vaccinations every year. And there is enough vaccine available in the country so the shut down of the one facility won’t affect anyone.”

CHI Mercy Health uses a trivalent vaccine, which inoculates for three different viruses. Mercy plans to vaccinate employees within the coming weeks.

For more information, contact CHI Mercy Health, or for topical and timely posts and videos, go to our Facebook page.

Keep Up with Us

CHI Mercy Health has a Facebook page and Twitter account. You can keep up with what’s going on at the hospital and foundation during the month, and log on to find out about any weather-related notices or health concerns for our patients.

Go to Facebook, CHI Mercy Health, “Like” us, and follow us on Twitter, @CHIMercyVCND, and keep up with what’s happening with the Mercy community–your community.

Patients and families provide an important voice

Acting on national research that suggests patients and families can help hospitals improve safety and the patient experience, CHI Mercy Health has a Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC).

“Our goal is to partner with patients and families, along with staff from our hospital, to identify practices, policies and safety initiatives that will benefit from patient and family input,” said Stephanie Kruta, BSN, MSN, OR manager and PFAC lead. “While patient satisfaction, safety and quality have always been a focus, the Patient & Family Advisory council helps us better understand what’s important to patients and their families to contribute to improved care.”

The CHI Mercy Health Patient & Family Advisory Council meets quarterly, the advisory council works hand-in-hand with staff and administrators to bring about changes that make the care experience better for patients and their families.

Nationally, patient and family advisory councils have brought about helpful changes. Since its conception in 2011, CHI Mercy Health’s Patient & Family Advisory Council has helped form a new patient directory, develops menu choices and provided guidance around communication on medications.

If you are interested in learning more about CHI Mercy Health’s Patient & Family Advisory Council or would like to consider volunteering on the council, please contact Alana Wendel, ER Manager at 701-845-6400.

We’re listening. Learn how you may be able to help us make care better.

Safety First Inspires New Safety Culture at CHI Mercy Health

Mistakes happen. But at CHI Mercy Health, work is under way to eliminate mistakes that harm patients.

SafetyFirst is a multi-faceted program that will strengthen the organization’s commitment to always put patient, employee and medical staff safety first. This initiative helps CHI Mercy Health instill a new safety culture and reach its goal of zero safety errors that harm patients.

Employees and members of CHI Mercy Health’s medical staff participated in safety and error-prevention training learning behaviors proven to significantly reduce the number of safety errors in other health care organizations. Doctors and nurses at CHI Mercy Health have already adopted techniques used by “highly reliable” industries, such as naval and commercial aviation, and nuclear power. Some of these SafetyFirst techniques include: daily check in, safety coaches and mandatory education on SafetyFirst techniques for all new employees to CHI Mercy Health. Daily check in occurs Monday thru Friday and involve one member from each department of the hospital. At this morning huddle, each person reports on any safety concerns for staff or patients. This allows all departments to know if the concern is of value to their department and allows for managers to take away issues to make changes to help prevent safety related concerns. Safety coaches received additional training in SafetyFirst coaching and are involved with not only direct observations of care and SafetyFirst techniques but also in coaching and encouraging staff to use the tools that they have learned. The coaches meet monthly to talk about concerns and receive feedback and guidance in handling various opportunities to coach staff in safety techniques.

SafetyFirst is a national strategy coordinated by Catholic health Initiatives (CHI), CHI Mercy Health’s parent organization. CHI will continue to implement and optimize SafetyFirst over the next few years.

CHI Mercy Health Laboratory Updates Equipment

The CHI Mercy Health Laboratory has recently upgraded several analyzers used to perform medical testing. The “workhorse” of the department is the new Siemens Dimension EXL 200, which performs many chemistry tests twice as fast as the previous model. Everything from blood sugar (Glucose) to thyroid (TSH) to diagnostic testing for heart attacks (Troponin-I), the EXL 200 does it all!

Another upgrade to improve turn-around-time for faster test results is the Abbott I-stat. This analyzer performs lab tests on a small amount of blood in a very small timeframe. For example, patients who arrive in the Emergency Room for heart attacks, strokes or major accidents can report lab results quickly to help the provider determine the diagnosis or treatment in real time.

We are proud to serve our patients and community for your fast, accurate and reliable lab testing, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! All you need is an order for Lab testing from your provider to have your blood drawn at Mercy Hospital. Please contact the Laboratory at 701-845-6447 with any questions.