Palmetto Health has a team solely devoted to ensuring that quality patient care is maintained throughout our hospitals. As one of three clinical project coordinators for Palmetto Health Richland's Center for Nursing Excellence, Ann Shelton proudly refers to herself as a "change agent." She recognizes her job—monitoring nursing care delivery processes and comparing their outcomes to evidence-based standards and hospital policies—as pivotal to the hospital's vision of being remembered by each patient as providing the care and compassion we want for our families and ourselves.
Shelton, who has worked at Palmetto Health Richland for close to 25 years, uses her expertise in critical care, obstetrics and cardiology-combined with her talent as a staff educator-into a combination that she refers to as "an odd bag of tricks." She's parlayed the unique skill set into a mentoring role that impacts quality and patient safety at Richland on a daily basis. She rounds on nursing units each day and tracks Harm Index data - patient statistics on those who may have become ill or injured as a result of their hospitalization. "The index monitors progress toward our harm reduction goal in a way that increases accountability. It ties performance to improvement and enhances understanding," Shelton says.
The Multi-Drug Resistant Organism meeting is one of many meetings Shelton attends. "This definitely is one of the hospital's most multi-disciplinary teams," she says. "Radiology, dietary, environmental services, respiratory. Nursing has the privilege of being at the bedside 24/7, but they're not there alone. It takes all of us working together to create a more safe patient environment and to bring staff into alignment with recognized national best practices."
Although Shelton is embedded with the Critical Care Unit, she's not really part of that department. Her external view often helps bring clarity to issues and a house-wide perspective to the nurse managers, assistant nurse managers and educators. As she meets with departments, she discusses falls, near misses, the documentation of each, risk management and medical errors in general-all of which are documented. "Now that we rely so heavily on electronic records," Ann says, "we have a lot of information at our fingertips. And the greatest value of all this data is the ability to learn from it and create positive change for our staff and our patients going forward," she says.