Last updated: August 11. 2014 1:10PM - 957 Views
By Amanda Crabtree

Renae Taylor
Renae Taylor
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What makes a hospital’s patient care excellent? It’s not just the state-of-the-art technology, or the advanced medical procedures. It is the quality of its nursing staff.

Southeastern Health and its regional hub, Southeastern Regional Medical Center, have outstanding nurses. SeHealth’s nurses have earned that distinction by helping the organization become a Magnet facility — the highest honor for nursing excellence.

“Magnet is the gold seal of nursing,” said Teresa Barnes, vice president of acute care services for SeHealth. For patients, that means better outcomes and greater satisfaction with their care.”

So how did SeHealth attain this level of quality care? The story actually began more than six years ago.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center awards the prestigious Magnet distinction to organizations that meet high standards of nursing excellence. Just 401 health systems in the nation have made the grade.

“The Magnet journey takes years in itself,” said Renae Taylor, SeHealth’s chief nursing officer.

SeHealth earned the Magnet designation for the first time in 2008. The requirements were numerous and rigorous. The hospital had to excel in more than a dozen areas, such as: high-quality care; strong nurse leadership; and high levels of job satisfaction.

But first there was the application — a document that grew to 15 inches thick. And then a site evaluation.

“Once your application is submitted, they decide if you even warrant a visit,” Taylor said. “Then they come down and go through everything with a fine-tooth comb.”

Magnet hospitals have to outperform the national benchmarks in nursing-sensitive indicators. These include falls, pressure ulcers, restraint use, infections, and patient satisfaction scores, etc., according to Donna Kinlaw, director of quality and performance review.

To achieve these scores, SeHealth nurses aren’t just providing the best possible medical and nursing care, they’re also providing that hometown touch.

It’s when nurses go above and beyond to ensure patients’ and families’ needs are met. Sometimes it’s just being there to listen, to hold a hand gently, to help with the healing.

“That’s the compassion that you can’t teach,” Taylor said.

High levels of nurse satisfaction are also evident at Magnet facilities. And that helps SeHealth attract and retain the best of the best. What’s more, because of the high-quality nursing staff, doctors and other providers are often attracted to working at Magnet facilities like SeHealth.

Magnet organizations support the professional growth of the nurses by promoting higher educational degrees, national certifications, and the participation in national nursing organizations. Hospitals with a higher number of nationally certified nurses have been proven to have better patient outcomes, according to Kinlaw.

According to Barnes, Magnet recognition has made SeHealth a better health system. The organization has seen reduced mortality rates, lower hospital-associated infection rates, better overall patient satisfaction and patient safety, and more.

On top of that, the hospital has received numerous awards assocated with nursing quality, including the Health Grades Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence in 2012 and 2013.

“But it’s still a journey for us,” Barnes said. “Just because we achieved Magnet doesn’t mean we’ve stopped. We always push ourselves. It’s a culture of continuous improvement, excellence and improvements in clinical outcomes.”

And to retain Magnet status? Every four years, a facility must apply for magnet re-designation and repeat the entire process for document submission to show compliance with the standards as well as a site visit to confirm that the standards are being maintained

In 2013, SeHealth again earned the prestigious title. As Kinlaw says, each time the bar gets higher.

“You have to keep showing you are getting better and better,” she said.

Excellence. Pride. Passion. These are words you’ll hear often from those familiar with SeHealth nurses. Kinlaw recalls how the Magnet program reviewers visited the site in 2013 and spoke with the nurses.

“I wish you could have seen the passion they displayed and how proud they were in what they had accomplished,” she said. “It was amazing.”

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