Capable surgical care through team approach
Many hospital inpatient and outpatient surgery centers are separated by distance, experience and expertise. Only one wall separates Community Hospital East surgical services from Community Surgery Center East, and it’s no barrier. Surgical staff go between the two areas, wherever their skills are most needed. This innovative approach contributes to making the surgery experience at the Community East campus light years ahead of what patients receive elsewhere.
“At this campus patients are going to get expert help no matter what procedure they’re here for, whether it’s a minor outpatient procedure or an invasive, total joint replacement or spinal fusion” said Lori Walton, executive director for both Community Surgery Center East and surgical services at Community East. “We make sure we have the right people doing the right procedures no matter what location they serve.”
More than 12,000 surgeries are performed each year at Community East and Community Surgery Center East, and that includes 17 surgical specialties.
Patients may not realize it, but they benefit in many ways from this rather unique arrangement. It’s the little things behind the scenes that can make a big difference. Here, the physicians know the staff members, the staff members know each other and, more importantly, everyone knows the routine. That means the focus is all on patient safety and comfort, creating a smooth, easy experience for everyone.
“We are all doing what we are supposed to be doing, and that helps us maintain our levels of care and safety initiatives,” Walton said. “We do a lot of things in our area that is very serious business, and we make it look pretty simple.”
This arrangement also means there are fewer glitches in the schedule. “We all consider that we are one team,” said Shelby Hurd, clinical director for hospital surgical services. “We share staff from the surgery center to the inpatient side, depending on the caseload for the day and when and where staff is needed. That works out very well here.”
The teamwork doesn’t stop with the surgical staff. Everyone from housekeeping to administrative staff is an active team participant, helping to raise the bar when it comes to the patient experience.
Knowledgeable, dedicated staff
While some staff specialize in specific types of surgeries such as neurosurgery, staff members from both teams continually learn new skills. And they have opportunities to practice them on a regular basis. “It works well because the knowledge is spread across both entities,” Walton said. It’s not just operating room personnel that participate in cross-training—it encompasses preop and recovery personnel as well. This approach helps reduce potential staffing shortages and helps ensure continuity of care.
Mary Hofmeister, clinical director for outpatient surgery at Community Surgery Center East, said minimal staff turnover is also a factor in providing quality care. It means the knowledge base stays intact, and is available for new employees to tap into. “At East we have not only great staff, but we have great leadership,” Walton said. “We hire the right people, and they do the right things. We care about our employees, and it shows in the level of work that they produce.”
Groundbreaking post-op pain management
Mention the word surgery, and one of the first things people think about is the painful recovery period. But pain-free recovery from surgery is happening right now at Community Hospital East. For the last five years, the staff at Community East has been using groundbreaking techniques to control acute postsurgical pain for a broad spectrum of surgeries. These innovative doctors and nurses have specially developed pain control techniques for post-surgical patients based on the type of surgical procedure, including orthopedics, general surgery, OB/GYN and neurosurgery. And the outcomes, according to the physicians and patients, have been tremendous. Because of these successes, Community East has earned national recognition as a leader in post-surgical pain management, and has several patents pending.
Rotator cuff and shoulder surgery were the first surgeries to implement some of the new techniques, followed by knee and hip replacement and spine surgery. Traditional spine surgery can be particularly painful. Community East is one of a handful of hospitals worldwide performing virtually pain-free spinal surgery, and has done more than 400 to date. Physicians at Community East have also developed techniques for controlling pain after hernia surgeries, hysterectomies, mastectomies and breast reconstruction.
Being virtually pain-free after surgery is the most obvious benefit and the focus of these techniques, but patients benefit in many other ways. Less pain means less reliance on IV-delivered narcotics and other medications. Nausea is often reduced and patients often experience fewer complications. Since patients are able to get back on their feet faster, hospital stays are reduced and they can return to work and regular activities faster. And there’s an added bonus—less time in the hospital means a lower hospital bill.