Washington Hospital Honors ICU Essay Contest Winners Part 1 of a 3-Part Series
Every year since 2008, Washington Hospital has observed National Critical Care Awareness and Recognition Month in May. Promoted by the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM), the month-long observance encourages members of critical care medical teams to show their dedication to quality patient care while promoting greater public awareness of this essential, life-saving medical practice.
“This year we decided to sponsor an essay contest,” says Dr. Carmen Agcaoili, medical director of the intensivist program and co-medical director of the intensive care unit (ICU) at Washington Hospital.
“The essay contest, which was open to all of our staff in the ICU, asked employees to explain what the ‘Right Care, Right Now™’ initiative means to them,” she explains. “Right Care, Right Now means the correct care is delivered at exactly the precise moment to achieve optimal patient outcomes. SCCM maintains that Right Care, Right Now is best provided by an integrated, multidisciplinary team of dedicated experts, directed by a trained, on-site physician credentialed in critical care, often called an intensivist.”
Dr. Agcaoili notes that there were 18 entries in the essay contest from a wide range of medical professionals on the ICU team. The top three essay writers were recognized during a staff celebration.
First Place Winner Anu Tharoor, registered nurse
Anu Tharoor will celebrate her 10th anniversary of working at Washington Hospital in December. While her first assignment at the hospital was in the telemetry unit in 5 West, she moved to the ICU after eight months when a position opened up there.
“The essay contest presented a challenge for those of us in the ICU to describe what it means to provide the ‘Right Care, Right Now,’ and I wanted to express my views as a critical care nurse,” she explains. “We have worked hard to improve the way we provide critical care. It is important for critical care nurses to keep up to date on the best way to treat our patients. Our goal is to provide the best possible care for our patients.”
Right Care, Right Now – Providing Quality Care
By Anu Tharoor, RN
Blaring sirens, mad dashing around of health care workers trying to save lives, constant beeping of alarms from monitors, panic-stricken relatives – this is the perception of a critical care unit for the common man who hasn’t set foot in it. As health care professionals, our way of providing care to this man’s loved one has gone through a welcome metamorphosis and is still evolving for the better. One of the tools is the “Right Care, Right Now” initiative.
What does “Right Care, Right Now” mean? It means providing the best possible quality care to all patients, all the time, as early as possible, by the right people. How do we ensure the right care is provided each time? Using guidelines such as “evidence-based practices” (EBP) helps us maintain a standard of care for all the patients with a particular problem without many variations across the board. Following the set standard template of care ensures that we deliver care in a safe, effective and timely manner. But as professionals, we also need to use our judgment and clinical assessment while implementing these guidelines, as the right care might be different for each individual.
That’s why I strongly believe that while following a set of guidelines, the care needs to be highly individualized and patient-centered. We should always remember the “patient-first ethic.” For a 90-year-old man with terminal cancer admitted for sepsis (a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection), the right care might mean living the last days of his live with his loved ones, remembering the good life he had and passing away with dignity. For another person, it might mean fighting to stay alive for himself and his loved ones, knowing it might be a futile effort. Focusing on a set of standards is a must, but in the midst of running a myriad of tests and procedures, we should make sure the patient’s needs are met with ample sensitivity.
That’s where another aspect of right care comes in – a multidisciplinary team approach.
How does a multidisciplinary team help us here? This team is comprised of multiple skilled professionals and experts in their respective disciplines. They help us ensure every aspect of the patient’s care is taken into consideration, and we achieve our final goal of quality health care. A spiritual-care coordinator is as important to the team as an intensivist. Involving the patients and their families in the care program is another priceless aspect. Making them active members of team discussions – making them feel wanted and important – helps achieve valuable patient-centered care.
Right care should be safe. Multidisciplinary teams ensure this safety by reviewing patient progress daily and reassessing the plan of care. Another tool that ensures safety is using electronic documentation, which not only prevents compromising information as it passes from one person to another, but also ensures that it is accessible to everyone involved in the patient’s care.
Providing quality health care all the time is our ethical obligation. Let us strive toward making it our culture, too, with this initiative.
The second and third place winners in the essay contest will be featured in the August 26 and September 2 editions of the Tri-City Voice newspaper.
Washington Hospital is on the leading edge of critical care medicine. The hospital launched its Intensivist Program in 2008 and now has 9 intensivists who are part of the medical staff. Intensivists are physicians who direct and provide medical care for patients in the intensive care unit (ICU), where critically ill patients are treated. They are board-certified in critical care medicine and in a primary specialty such as internal medicine, surgery, anesthesiology, or pediatrics.
Intensivists work with the attending and consulting physicians and other members of the critical care team such as critical care nurses, pharmacists, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, nutritionists, rehabilitation services, social workers, case managers, and physician specialists, as well as spiritual care staff and volunteers. The team works together to ensure the patient is getting the best care possible.
Washington Hospital is one of the few hospitals in the Bay Area with an intensivist available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information about Washington Hospital’s Intensivist Program, visit http://www.whhs.com/intensivist-program.
For more information about critical care medicine and the role of intensivists and other staff members in the ICU, visit the Society of Critical Care Medicine website at www.myicucare.org.