Orlando Health St. Cloud Hospital has operated under the Orlando Health umbrella for two years now, and along with the recent announcement of their new President and long-time St. Cloud resident Brian Wetzel, Orlando Health St. Cloud Hospital is announcing mew patient safety and quality measures that have been introduced since being acquired by Orlando Health July 1, 2020.

“One of the first steps in our quality-enhancement program was to bring in a physician champion,” said Thibaut van Marcke, president of Orlando Health Dr. P. Phillips Hospital and senior vice president of Orlando Health’s southeast region, which includes Orlando Health St. Cloud. “Aparna Sharma, MD, joined the organization in April 2021, becoming the hospital’s first-ever chief quality officer. She has implemented processes and procedures, such as safety checklists and daily huddles, that promote a system-wide focus on providing the highest quality of care to our patients,” added Mr. van Marcke.

Under Dr. Sharma’s leadership, the hospital now provides 24/7 physician coverage in the intensive care unit (ICU) with additional advanced practice providers (APP) support during the day, further increasing safety and care for these very critically ill patients.

Dr. Sharma has also been instrumental in leading the charge on many of the clinical and patient care improvements. Under her guidance, the hospital has begun work to become stroke accredited and make sure that every stroke patient who enters the hospital gets treated in accordance with the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines (GWTG) performance and quality measures. Orlando Health St. Cloud has established a stroke coordinator to help monitor stroke patients to ensure timely and evidence-based care and has partnered with EMS to conduct education programs and drills on GWTG.

Another new process to be introduced is an extremely successful hospital-wide hand hygiene initiative, the compliance of which is monitored daily. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), when integrated with other critical measures, appropriate hand hygiene is the single most effective action to stop the spread of infection. 

These and numerous other changes have resulted in a 60 percent reduction in hospital acquired infections in just two years.

“We recognize improving safety in a healthcare setting is a constant journey,” said Dr Sharma. “All of our quality and safety achievements may not be fully reflected in national hospital quality measures for several years. But we continue to look for ways to improve how we treat our patients. It’s a shared value across the hospital.”

Technology has also been an integral component to Orlando Health St. Cloud’s intense focus on patient safety and quality. The hospital has optimized barcode medication administration technology, which is the safest way to ensure the correct medication is always administered to the correct patient. The hospital monitors its usage daily and ensures it is used at greater than 95% of all times. 

In 2021, the hospital implemented Epic, the industry’s most comprehensive health record (CHR) system, which streamlines health data and care delivery for patients and clinicians. The new system gives physicians the ability to manage a patient’s orders through entering medications and procedures. With nearly 100 percent participation from clinicians, these entries have helped increase efficiency and reduce errors. The hospital also has been facilitating ease of use with MyChart, the online patient portal, so patients can easily access their care right on their phone or laptop. To ensure the safety of high risk and vulnerable patients, a falls committee was also established to improve practices in the hospital and prevent falls and injury.

Chief Nursing Officer, Jessie Reid, who has been a part of the Orlando Health St. Cloud team since integration day of July 1, 2020, has been vital in working to align nursing care and practices to improve patient experience and patient outcomes.  In the past two years, Orlando Health St. Cloud has been focused on reconnecting with the community to ensure patients have a great experience when they come to the hospital to receive care. She has worked actively to align the care and communication provided at Orlando Health St. Cloud Hospital with the  broader Orlando Health system.

Special focus has been placed on ensuring that appropriate resources and equipment that optimize patient care are available. One example is replacing older beds with newer beds that provide patients with a safer, more comfortable stay. For team members, the new beds are easier to operate and maneuver, helping to ensure that they are able to provide great care. 

“Our teams continue to work every day to improve the experience for each patient to ensure that they are provided the best care possible. We have seen a steady increase in patient experience, with patients feeling that our nurses care for and about them. And patient feedback about nursing communication is at its highest level,” said Ms. Reid. 

Orlando Health St. Cloud Hospital was also recently recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in Healthcare in 2022. The award program identifies and recognizes outstanding employers in the healthcare industry nationwide.