Things are swinging at Sampson Regional Medical Center now that the hospital has begun implementing a new swing bed program designed to improve patient care.
Swing beds enable the hospital to change a patient’s status from acute care to sub-acute care without actually having to move the patient to a new room in the Skilled Nursing unit.
Prior to this new program, when patients in the Medical-Surgical unit showed enough improvement, they were then physically transferred to the Skilled Nursing unit to receive sub-acute short-term and long-term care.
“In looking at the program, we knew that lots of rural hospitals have it. Since we’ve always had a Skilled Nursing unit, we didn’t initially see the need for it. However, as we continued to look into it, we decided to give it a try. We believed it could help improve patient care, and we thought we could make it cost effective,” said David Materson, chief executive officer at the hospital.
Once fully implemented, the swing bed program will allow the hospital to do some restructuring which will increase efficiency and effectiveness. The Medical-Surgical unit will be divided into two separate units, with medical on the third floor and surgical on the second.
Because the swing bed program makes it possible for patients to stay in their same room in their specific unit through their whole hospital stay, the Skilled Nursing unit will ultimately be eliminated.
For patients this means, no matter which unit they are in, they will be in designated swing beds and will be able to receive the continued care they need while still in their same room.
This change promises to improve the quality of patient care, ensuring that patients with sub-acute status have single room accommodations, more privacy, and the same staff caring for them.
“It’s a transitory stage that is now more patient centered,” said Materson, adding that younger patients will be especially pleased with the swing bed program.
“Sometimes you have a patient that comes in for knee surgery that’s 50 years old. These younger patients, who need skilled nursing or rehab after their surgery, don’t necessarily want to be moved to a nursing home setting; they’re not ready for that,” explained Masterson. “Swing beds will allow them to stay where they are and receive the skilled nursing or rehab care they need.”
For nurses, the separation of the two units will allow them to focus on one unit, one type of patient. This focus will help them develop stronger skills and provide safer care.
“By splitting the Medical-Surgical unit into two, the nurses will be specialized in one unit. This specialization will increase the quality of care our patients receive,” explained Masterson.
“It’s all patient-centered. The nursing care will revolve around the patient,” added Katie Brick, vice president of clinical operations. “The nurses are responding to it very well. Nurses really care about what happens to their patients, so whenever you do something to put more focus on the patient, it makes the nurses happy.”
However, although assigned to one unit, nurses will now be required to know how to care for both acute and sub-acute patients. “Our nurses will have to go through some new training but it’s something we’re excited about. We already have an excellent staff here, so the training will just allow them to expand their already excellent capabilities,” said Masterson.
Implementing the swing bed program is taking some time; the hospital has been in various phases of the process since late last spring. “So far, it’s going very well,” reported Masterson.”Right now, we’re waiting for the state to do their unannounced survey and give their approval. We’re hoping we can really start the swing beds in March and then split the two units in April.”
As far as upcoming changes go, Masterson shares that patients will see the most difference. “From an administrative perspective, things don’t change. Reimbursements, paperwork, all that’s the same. As far as costs go, it is cost effective; we’re reducing our overhead. However, the main change is really in what the patient experiences. The drive of the program is patient satisfaction which we’re really excited about. Implementing this program has been a good decision; it’s kind of a no-brainer.”
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 123 or via email at email@example.com.