Wyo4News Staff, [email protected]
ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING (August 12, 2020) — Working collaboratively and providing opportunities for nurses to advance are just a few of the areas in which Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County (MHSC) excels.
The Southwest Region of the 2020 Wyoming Nurses Association (WNA) recently awarded MHSC in three areas. MHSC’s COVID-19 Preparedness Incident Command Team and its Surgical Services Team each received the Collaborative Practice Award for best practice in improved patient outcomes. Registered Nurse Rachelle Harris received the Face of our Future nursing award.
“Working collaboratively is one of our five key values,” said CEO Irene Richardson. “For two of our teams and one of our nurses to receive these awards demonstrates our commitment to our patients, staff, and community to provide them with quality, compassionate care for every patient, every time. I’m so proud of our Incident Command Team, our Surgical Services team, and, of course, Rachelle Harris for receiving such well-deserved, high praise.”
The Collaborative Practice Award is given to a health system or individual hospital for a collaborative project which shows an interdisciplinary approach to best practices that resulted in improved patient outcomes, or cost-saving, according to the WNA.
The Faces of our Future Nurses Award is given to a registered nurse who has been licensed five years or less who is known for innovative practice, service in the community, or specific program that will serve the public in the area they practice, according to the WNA.
COVID-19 Preparedness Incident Command Team
On March 2, MHSC was one of the first healthcare agencies statewide to set up its Incident Command.
The team includes Incident Commander, Kim White; Liaison Officer, Dirk Anderson; Public Information Officer, Deb Sutton; Safety Officer, Stevie Nosich; Medical Specialists, Dr. Cielette Karn, Dr. Melinda Poyer, and Dr. Alicia Gray; Logistics Section Chief, Angel Bennett; Planning Section Chiefs, Kara Jackson, and Karali Plonsky; Finance Section Chief, Jan Layne; Operations Section Chief for MHSC, Melissa Anderson; Operations Section Chief for Specialty Clinics, Leslie Taylor; and many support staff working with each section leader.
“As our CEO likes to say, ‘this really is our first rodeo when it comes to a pandemic of this kind,’” White said. “Incident Command units typically are not needed for extremely lengthy periods of time. Extending the operation beyond days and weeks, and instead into months, the team continues to quickly adapt as new COVID-19 information changes on an almost a daily basis.
“This award also has special meaning because of collaborative work that has been accomplished with outside agencies,” White said. “We work closely with Sweetwater County Public Health. We also continue to work with the Sweetwater County Emergency Operations Command (EOC) and all of the agencies the EOC includes.”
The team was nominated by Julie Leavitt, an assistant professor of nursing at Western Wyoming Community College and an MHSC case manager. The team “deserves the award for its quick and innovative thinking,” she said in her nomination letter. “They utilize best practices when creating policies and/or making decisions.”
Surgical Services Team
The team includes all of the healthcare professionals in pre-admission testing, same-day surgery, the operating room, sterile processing, post-anesthesia care, and anesthesiology.
“This large group includes a wide variety of disciplines and skills. They work together quickly and efficiently to provide excellent care to all surgical patients,” said Surgical Services Director Alisha Mackie. “When the novel coronavirus pandemic hit, this team adapted quickly to new precautions and safety measures to ensure patients, visitors, and staff are safe. I could not be more proud of the Surgical Services Team.”
In her nomination letter, MSHC Surgical Services Clinical Coordinator Jennifer Roger, RN, said she joined the team one month prior to the start of the pandemic.
“I have bared witness to their dedication in providing exceptional patient care,” Roger said. “The pandemic completely changed the process for patients going to surgery, and this team has made safety a priority. Despite the daily, and sometimes hourly changes this pandemic has brought, this team continues to focus on how they can better care for all surgical patients during these challenging times.”
Harris graduated in August 2019 from the University of Wyoming’s BRAND Program and began her career at MHSC in November. She is part of MHSC’s Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). Plus, in her short time with the hospital, she already has cross-trained to work pre-op in same-day surgery and has supplemented her experience by training in the Emergency Department.
Harris currently is the preceptor for nurses who are new to the PACU role, Roger explained in her nomination letter. A person who recently worked under Harris had this to say:
“She understands and follows the policies and procedures here at MHSC, incorporates them into her daily practice, and shares the rationale with the nurses she precepts. Rachelle has knowledge of our systems and protocols and is willing to guide others through the systems quickly and easily. If she does not know the answer, she finds out quickly and educates on the process of finding needed information, and preparing the nurse for her own practice at MHSC. Rachelle has a calm and direct demeanor that makes learning from her enjoyable and informative.”
Harris said it is every nurse’s hope to go out into the field and make a difference. She said the award is uplifting.
“It was very humbling to see myself through the eyes of my co-workers,” she said. “I appreciate all of their support and help and that of Chief Nursing Officer Kristy Nielson in getting me to this point.”