Patient Focus Earns Prairie du Chien Memorial Hospital
National Recognition

Discharge process improvement starts at the
bedside with frontline nurses

Prairie du Chien, WI (November 26, 2013) ---- A successful discharge planning process ensures a smooth transition to a different level of care, whether the destination is to home or to a long term care facility. The entire care team must work together to help the patient and family members understand what care is going to be required and their collective responsibilities in the process. If discharge instructions are not understood, it can lead to a readmission, a trip to the emergency room or a medication error.

The staff at Prairie du Chien Memorial Hospital, a small rural hospital located in western Wisconsin, knows how important a successful discharge process can be to the health of their patients. And as a result of their focused efforts to ensure that when patients leave the hospital they have a smooth transition to their next setting, the hospital was recently ranked as one of the five best in its peer group for its discharge process. The ranking was based on a national study that looked at how patients scored their hospital stay across several domains, including the discharge process.

Their outstanding score caught the attention of researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality. Johns Hopkins invited Julia Nelson, chief quality officer and Bethany Schiefelbein, medical surgical pediatric nurse, to present at a national conference along with some of the top performing health care organizations in the country.

“We’re always looking for evidence-based best practices to help us improve patient care processes,” said Schiefelbein. “We feel strongly that achieving the best outcome for our patients requires the highest level of involvement possible from the patient, their family and their health care team,” she added.

Prairie du Chien Memorial frontline staff used a multi-faceted approach to improve the discharge process and positively impact their performance scores. According to Schiefelbein, one of the most important and effective aspects of the hospital’s improvement in patient satisfaction was sparked by their participation in the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) Transforming Care at the Bedside (TCAB) initiative. 

“TCAB engaged staff nurses in quality improvement starting at the bedside,” said Ellen Zwirlein, RN, chief nursing officer. “It really energized and empowered our nurses. No one knows the patient better than their nurses, and when you start by looking at how changes are perceived through the eyes of the patient, the process improvement becomes logical and practical for not only the patient, but to their family and all their caregivers as well.” 

TCAB has taken hold in Wisconsin with 45 hospitals participating in the program to date. WHA is committed to continue supporting TCAB through 2014. 

“TCAB is a major commitment for a hospital; it is an 18-month project involving the chief nursing officer, unit managers and frontline staff,” according to Judy Warmuth, RN, WHA vice president, workforce development.

Participation in TCAB is rigorous; it requires monthly data reporting, team culture surveys and sharing of best practices with other hospitals. TCAB directs staff nurses to evaluate their care processes from the patient’s perspectives and encourages innovative solutions.

Prairie du Chien Memorial’s commitment to engaging patients in their care resonates across their entire campus. When the hospital announced its plans to build a new hospital, patients and community members’ input was solicited to ensure patient needs and values were met. The new hospital, which is expected to open in 2015, is in all respects, truly a community asset.

“We know that high quality health care is an essential asset to our community’s ability to compete for economic development,” according to CEO Bill Sexton. “Engaging the public ‘from the ground up’ in our building project was simply an extension of our commitment to serve our patients in the best way possible.”

Prairie du Chien Memorial Hospital is a critical access hospital located in western Wisconsin. It serves patients from western Wisconsin and eastern Iowa. TCAB is a project of Aligning Forces for Quality, an initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to improve the quality of health and health care in targeted communities around the country, through a grant to the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (WCHQ). In Wisconsin, the Aligning Forces for Quality effort is a joint project of WCHQ, WHA, and other organizations. WHA represents more than 130 community hospitals. 



Mary Kay Grasmick, WHA 608-274-1820

Sasha Dull, PdCMH,   608-357-2140

Staff Contact:

Mary Kay Grasmick

Vice President, Communications



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