Tampa General Hospital: Deana Nelson, Chief Operating Officer

by HCE Exchange on May 13, 2011

Large healthcare organizations are always trying to stay ahead of the curve in terms of quality, technology and patient care services. Tampa General Hospital, in west central Florida, is one of the most comprehensive medical facilities in its region. It serves 12 counties with a population of more than four million. The hospital is also a teaching facility for the University of South Florida College of Medicine.

Deana Nelson, Chief Operating Officer, said the hospital maintains a “culture of excellence” and believes in achieving its mission statement every day:

“Tampa General Hospital is committed to providing the residents of West Central Florida with excellent and compassionate health care ranging from the simplest to the most complex medical services. As a teaching facility, Tampa General partners with academic and community institutions to support both their teaching and research missions. As the region’s leading safety net hospital, we reaffirm our commitment to providing high quality health services to all residents.”

The hospital offers a range of services including one of the country’s top ranked transplant centers, a burn center, level 1 trauma center, level 3 neonatal intensive care unit, high-risk obstetrics care, an adult and pediatric brain and spinal cord injury center, and other tertiary services.

Growth and expansion

To continue meeting the needs of its residents, Tampa General Hospital has embarked on expansion plans over the past few years. The hospital opened a new 250,000 square foot pavilion that houses  a women’s center and other services. The hospital has also expanded areas to support the increase in obstetrics services.

The hospital is also in the process of rolling out an electronic medical record. They chose the Epic suite of products and will begin implementing the system within the next year.

Investments in quality and efficiency

Tampa General also takes its commitment to providing quality care seriously with dedicated efforts to reduce infections and meet Institute for Healthcare Improvement initiatives.

“Our quality structure is integrated between medical staff, nursing and other clinical staff,” Nelson said. “We have worked collaboratively to decrease or eliminate infections. We have some critical care units that have gone two years with no ventilator-associated pneumonia.”

Tampa General has received many designations including Magnet certification, Joint Commission Disease Specific certifications, and rankings in U.S. News & World Report. Nelson said the hospital focuses on achieving those recognitions, not for the bragging rights, but because the strict guidelines provided by those organizations are best practices for hospitals to follow. Nelson also credits much of the hospital’s accomplishments, particularly in quality, to the hospital’s collaborative spirit.

“Everyone at every level gets involved in some type of customer service or quality improvement,” she said. “Housekeeping and  Infection Prevention  have been working together on an initiative to make our environments cleaner. The housekeeper will swab an area of the cleaned room and use a handheld device to look for bacteria left behind and can further clean areas that need it. This helps reduce infection.”

In addition to quality, the hospital has been working on an initiative to reduce wait times in the emergency department, improving efficiency and customer services. Nelson said the hospital has been using Lean concepts to change the way it manages patients coming into the ED.

“We have a team of ED management, physicians, nurses, radiology, and pharmacy that meets on a monthly basis,” she said. “They are in charge of putting Lean concepts into place and measuring results. We also have smaller teams looking at anything from how quickly we can address patients from the minute they enter until we get them to a treatment room, how quickly we get radiology or lab reports back. We also have a data subcommittee to measure patient flow so that we can compare data to see what works and what doesn’t.”

The ED project is still in the early phases, but Nelson said so far she has seen promising results.

Tampa General Hospital continues to look at ways to grow and meet the needs of its large patient population as well as its commitment as a teaching facility.

“We have an organization that we are very proud of,” Nelson said. “We make a significant impact on the lives and community we serve. And that’s what healthcare is really all about.”

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