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KH earns ‘Zero Harm’ awards as ‘What Matters Most’ campaign launches

Posted: September 25, 2014 5:25 p.m.
Updated: September 26, 2014 1:00 a.m.
Provided by KershawHealth/

KershawHealth Board of Trustees Chair Karen Eckford (left), interim CEO Terry Gunn and Board Vice Chair Dr. Tallulah Holmstrom show off the two Zero Harm awards the hospital earned from the S.C. Hospital Association (SCHA) for having no infections during an 18-month period during knee and hip surgeries. KershawHealth received the awards during the SCHA’s Trustees, Administrators and Physicians Conference on Sept. 20 on Hilton Head Island.

“I’ve got your sound bite and I’ve got your headline,” KershawHealth Board of Trustees Vice Chair Dr. Tallulah Holmstrom declared late in the board’s meeting Monday night. “Two simple words: ‘Zero Harm.’”

Holmstrom quickly explained that she, Board Chair Karen Eckford and interim CEO Terry Gunn recently attended the S.C. Hospital Association (SCHA) and S.C. Medical Association’s  Trustees, Administrators and Physicians (TAP) conference when KershawHealth received not just one honor, but two.

“KershawHealth received two Zero Harm awards from the South Carolina Hospital Association. The Zero Harm award … ‘recognize(s) hospitals with exemplary efforts in patient safety.’ What these two awards mean is that, for the period of time -- which is 18 months -- with hip and knee surgery interventions, we had zero infections associated with those surgeries. I don’t think I could have had a better segue way than to have that video,” she said, referring to the just previewed “What Matters Most” marketing campaign, “with our neighbors, knowing that we can provide this scope of service, and we can do it with zero harm.”

Holmstrom -- who is chair of the board’s quality committee -- said the award is both a “huge honor” and “huge commitment” for KershawHealth to make sure it is serving its patients as well it can.

According to a KershawHealth press release, KershawHealth’s data on knee and hip surgeries was independently verified by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

In the press release, Dr. Rick Foster, the SCHA’s vice president for quality and patient safety, said the award is part of the association’s efforts to guide and support the state’s hospitals in creating and sustaining reliable health care. Other highly reliable industries known for their consistently excellent reports, he noted, include aviation and nuclear power.

“Celebrating milestones, such as zero infections within a given time frame, is a crucial part of our hospitals’ collective journey to highly reliable health care,” Foster said. “Zero patient harm is possible only if physicians, clinical and support staff members work together. We’re very proud of KershawHealth team members for their strong and shared commitment to patient safety. They are an inspiration to all hospitals across the state striving to provide measurably safer care for every patient.”

Holmstrom said the committee will make a presentation at the board’s next meeting to recap KershawHealth’s most recent quality statistics, along with a glossary of quality terminology for trustees.

“These things are going to be very important, going forward, in the whole landscape. Not just of doing the right thing to the right patient at the right time in the right place in the right setting, but also it’s going to mean how we’re going to be reimbursed,” Holmstrom said. “While we talk about finances first at every meeting, I’m going to put a plug in that starting in October, we can put quality at the top of every agenda.”

Eckford agreed.

“The finances don’t matter if we don’t have the quality, and we don’t have the admissions to be able to do the work,” Eckford said, noting a number of employees were recognized for accomplishments during a recent quality committee meeting.

Holmstrom said that would be part of the presentation at the next board meeting.

The Zero Harm announcement came right on the heels of Gunn and KershawHealth Marketing Director Judy Ferrell presenting trustees with the first look at the healthcare organization’s new marketing campaign, “What Matters Most.” Ferrell would repeat the presentation on Tuesday with Gunn to Kershaw County Council (see accompanying story) and with KershawHealth Vice President of Marketing and Community Relations Joseph Bruce to Camden City Council.

Following KershawHealth’s internal “You Are Vital” campaign aimed at employees, Gunn said, administrators decided to turn their advertising efforts to the general public. “What Matters Most,” he said, is a response to differing stories told by employees versus those told out in the community.

“The stories you would often hear told and retold in the community … they were, basically, 180 degrees different from what I would hear as I would walk around on a unit and hear stories from current patients, staff members, and what physicians would say about what’s going on at the hospital,” Gunn said.

He said he and other administrators felt there was a “disconnect” with stories that have “grown a little bit with the retelling.”

“What we really wanted to do was make sure that the stories that truly reflect the excellence and quality of care that go on each and every day at KershawHealth truly get their fair opportunity to be told and retold,” he said.

Gunn also called the new effort the “Neighbors Campaign,” explaining that it takes on the notion that “we treat you different than anybody else because you’re our neighbor. You’re family, you’re are friends. That’s a level of care you can’t find anywhere else in the Midlands. It is only going to be found here at KershawHealth.”

He said the process of creating the campaign started with that theme and became a series of six videos. Four, Ferrell said, are general commercials; two highlight orthopedics as KershawHealth aims to create a joint care center of excellence. Trustees (and, later, city and county councils) also saw a much longer video that included footage not yet used in the commercials.

Ferrell said the commercials were shot entirely in Kershaw County using strictly local residents.

“We’re very proud of that,” she said. “We didn’t want any actors, we didn’t want people coming in from outside. And they really do reflect that as you watch this. They use the tagline, ‘How you treat your neighbors matters most.’ The folks we treat are the folks we see at church and at the football field and around town -- that we have a mutual accountability and support for each other.”

Scenes in the videos include recognizable landmarks, such as the Elgin town clock, Lugoff-Elgin Water Authority water tower, Camden’s King Hagler clock tower and Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site. Other scenes showcase the area’s love of horses, farming, the Wateree River and youth sports. While viewers may recognize some of the people in the commercials, the emphasis -- especially in the first four, generic, commercials -- is on community rather than individuals. A barber shop, nighttime bon fire, girls softball game and other group activities are highlighted.

The two orthopedic-related commercials are slightly shorter, focusing on a young father training for running a race with his young son keeping time, and an elderly aunt greeting several young relatives.

Ferrell and Gunn said the public is invited to join those who appear in the commercials at a “red carpet” event on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Little Theater on DeKalb Street in Camden. Free popcorn will be served.

Also during Monday’s board meeting:

• On a 7-1 vote, with Trustee Susan Outen voting against and Trustee Paul Napper absent, the board passed KershawHealth’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget, which goes into effect Wednesday. The budget anticipates a nearly $2 million operating loss and includes a 7 percent price increase, a possible 2 percent salary increase to be effective in December if KershawHealth meets certain financial performance standards.

• Trustees received the financial report for August. KershawHealth experienced an operating loss for the month of $378,000 and a $339,000 decrease in net assets. Fiscal year-to-date, KershawHealth has suffered an operating loss of $3.1 million and a $3.2 million decrease in net assets.

• Gunn recognized Janet Sheheen for being named the S.C. Association of Medical Staff Assistants 2014 Outstanding Medical Staff Assistant of the Year for handling the day-to-day work in managing active medical staff issues.

• Tiffany Estes and Mike Kelly with Dixon Hughes Goodman gave a pre-audit presentation. The full audit will take place in November with results reported in January.

• Trustees voted unanimously to amend KershawHealth’s patient concerns and grievances policy by including timelines to the grievance procedures.

• Trustees met in executive session to discuss and vote on the medical staff report and to discuss various, unspecified legal matters.

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