Northern Wyoming News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Tracie Mitchell
Staff Writer 

Recreating Washakie Medical Center's image one step-at-a-time


October 10, 2018

WORLAND – About a year ago Banner Health Washakie Medical Center held an open house to let the community see the major changes that were completed after a $24 million renovation project. Changes were made no only to the building itself but also to the equipment used; Banner Health investing in state-of-the-art medical equipment that can’t be found in many other rural critical access facilities.

While the community was impressed, many were still skeptical and are to this day, Banner Health Washakie Medical Center CEO Jay said. What the community, for the most part doesn’t know is that the entire infrastructure of the hospital has changed, from their philosophy, education requirements and employees to state-of-the-art equipment.

Stallings stated that most of the employees from the past have been replaced with the exception of the best-of-the-best. He stated that he has heard about some community member’s past experiences both good and bad. “I know I have received word that some were disappointed years ago and they are not going to come back. We realize that and we respect that, but we also ask to be given another chance,” Stallings said. He added that many services that were once not available in Worland are now available and that new services will continue to be added.

“We are continuing to expand those basic services [such as x-ray, lab work and in and out patient care] that we provide to the community so that they can feel comfortable, to at least ask questions. We believe that there are needs and we know that because a lot of people travel outside the Big Horn Basin and we don’t feel that for the most part that they should have to. We can develop those programs [requested and needed] so that they can stay at home, we want to do that, but we can’t make anybody do anything nor do we try. We believe strongly that we have to earn the right to take care of our community and the two best ways to do that are to be highly competent to prove the science that we say we have and the other is to be kind in every engagement and every interaction,” Stallings said.

“We must be highly competent and always kind,” Banner Health Washakie Medical Center CNO (chief nursing officer) LeGay Parks said quoting Stallings. She explained that Stallings quote motivates the hospital employees to do their best in whatever job they have at the hospital. She went on to explain what has been done to make sure that all the employees are highly competent.

“There are a lot of things that we have done to help improve competency. One of the challenges in rural health is that you have low volume, so how do you keep your skills up in all of those low volume high risk type of things? We have special academies, we have the ICU (intensive care unit) academy, we have the WIS (women infant and children) academy, we have a rural health academy, we have an ED (emergency department) academy, we actually send them back to school for that specialized training.

“When they get done with the academy they have to test off to make sure that they have learned everything but then we actually send them to one of our bigger facilities in Colorado and Arizona where they have high volumes so they get that hands-on practice after they have gone through those classes. That’s unique to Banner because I don’t think a lot of other rural facilities have that option,” Parks explained.

Parks explained that the staff is put through a lot of surprise but realistic drills. “Within the last few weeks we did a code PALS (pediatric advanced life support) drill in the cafeteria. Nobody knew that it was happening; we set it up for an ‘actor’ to say ‘My child collapsed in the cafeteria.’ So then our response team that’s trained and certified in PALS they responded to the cafeteria and they found a mannequin, a simulation of a child there, told the scenario and they had to do all of the things that they would do for a real person,” Parks said. She added that the hospital has a simulation mannequin for OB (obstetrics) that can simulate anything from normal childbirth to any complication that may arise. “So we can practice in a safe environment and keep our skills up for that,” Parks said.

“We have a simulation team that comes up from Banner (corporate headquarters is in Phoenix, Arizona) and they run simulations on other situations, so that we have people outside our own facility that are able to gauge our competence,” Stallings added.

Hospital employees are assigned specific learnings every year that they can complete on Banner’s online learning center. Employees can also go to the learning center and work on continued education hours. “So we have free continued education hours available, which is really good for licensures, certain licensures require a certain amount of education each year,” Parks said.

The hospital has a third party contractor called NRC Picker for inpatient surveys and another third party for emergency room and outpatient surveys. “So when patients discharge NRC Picker reaches out to them and asks them questions about their stay to find out how we are. They do hospitals across the nation,” Parks said.

According to NRC Picker, the overall rating of the hospital in 2015 was 65.5 percent positive with the national average for hospitals at about 75 percent positive. The hospital’s overall rating in 2018 is 83 percent positive. Patient safety is up from 73.9 percent positive in 2015 to 89.5 percent positive in 2018 with the national average about 72 percent positive. Patients who would recommend the hospital is up from 63.2 percent to 74.5 percent who would recommend in 2018 with the national average about 72 percent would recommend.

The emergency room has also risen greatly in the charts with 64 percent of people who would recommend in 2016 and 82.7 percent of people who would recommend in 2018.

Stallings stated that the hospital is not perfect and that sometimes mistakes are made but that the hospital will do whatever is necessary to rectify any situation. “We will acknowledge when we make a mistake. It’s really hard to do that sometimes but that’s part of our philosophy. When we make a mistake we are going to admit it, we even have a formalized process in Banner called candor,” Stallings said.

Parks added, “It’s a candid way to talk to our patients if there was an unexpected outcome or an unexpected event or a mistake. We investigate, figure out a way to make sure that it doesn’t happen again and we talk to the patient’s family about it. They may not even know that something happened but if we know that it didn’t meet the standards that we have, then we will reach out to that patient and family.”

“It comes down to doing the right thing for the patient; at all costs we want to do the right thing for the patient,” Parks stated.

This is part one of a two part series. Part two will expand on services now offered and will be published in Wednesday’s Northern Wyoming Daily News.


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