A remarkable milestone: Adventist HealthCare Fort Washington Medical Center achieves historic “A” safety grade

This content is sponsored by Adventist HealthCare Fort Washington Medical Center.

When it comes to healthcare, achieving an “A” grade for safety is not merely a mark on a scorecard, it’s a testament to a hospital’s unwavering commitment to excellence and the well-being of the community.

It’s also historic in the case of Adventist HealthCare Fort Washington Medical Center, which just received its first A in the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, the only hospital rating focused exclusively on hospital safety.

“Getting to the best score means we are creating a safer hospital for our patients,” said Eunmee Shim, president of Fort Washington Medical Center.  “When you get to an A grade, it means we are the safest hospital that you can find, and we’re very proud of that.”

The Leapfrog Group is a nonprofit watchdog organization that serves as a voice for health care consumers and purchasers.

Its A, B, C, D or F letter grades are known as a quick way for patients to choose the safest hospital, providing information on how likely they are to experience accidents, injuries, errors or harm.

“Not many hospitals can get to an A grade,” Shim said. “It is critical that we maintain that grade, and those efforts are underway with all of our staff working together.”

The journey from F to A

Adventist HealthCare Fort Washington Medical Center has gone through a remarkable transformation as it continues reducing local health care disparities in southern Prince George’s County, helping residents find medical care close to where they live so they don’t need to travel to places such as other Maryland counties, Virginia or D.C.

In 2018, the hospital received an F in the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade.

Now, just six years later, it has turned things around entirely.

“It all starts in the emergency room,” said Fiona McMahon, director of quality and safety services at Fort Washington Medical Center. “Something the emergency room has really started to zoom in on is hospital-acquired C. diff infections, for example.”

Clostridioides difficile, known as C. diff, is a common hospital-onset infection that typically affects older adults and can lead to serious complications.

“If you test them when they come in, it’s much better because then we know upfront, and we’re not finding that out four or five days later,” McMahon said.

The priority, according to McMahon, is essentially to identify problems immediately in the emergency room before someone is moved to the inpatient floor, ensuring the highest level of care for every patient who goes in for treatment.

“A lot of this is awareness,” said Dr. Jeffrey Stone, the director of the emergency department at Fort Washington Medical Center.  “What’s key to our success is that the whole team is aware of what these measures are, and what constitutes good quality.”

The doctors, nursing team and everyone else in the emergency room must be on the same page, according to Stone.

“From when a patient walks through the door to when the patient leaves, all the steps have to be in line,” Stone said. “There has to be consistency so that each patient has the same experience regardless of what they’re coming in for.”

Maintaining the excellence

Receiving an A grade in safety is a source of reassurance for the community.

Errors are minimized, risks are mitigated and patient outcomes improve.

“For patients and their families, it’s a huge deal,” said Dr. Ron Brathwaite, the hospital medicine director at Adventist HealthCare Fort Washington Medical Center.

When someone is in the hospital, they often have people at home who worry about them.

Knowing that safety is the highest priority instills confidence, assuring them that their loved one’s well-being is paramount.

“I have aunts, uncles, daughters and sons of patients who come into the hospital,” Brathwaite explained. “Giving them the peace of mind that we’ve made these improvements is huge.”

Such an achievement is not attained overnight.

Behind every successful safety upgrade lies a dedicated team of healthcare professionals who uphold the highest standards of care.

“Physicians feel comfortable and encouraged to bring their patients to be treated at Fort Washington Medical Center because they know that they will be safe and get high-quality care,” said Dr. Senda Beltaifa, the medical director of the laboratory at Fort Washington Medical Center.

“It really takes a village, because the providers cannot do what they do alone,” Beltaifa added.

From frontline nurses to administrative staff, from physicians to maintenance workers, each individual plays an important role in creating a culture of safety.

“This is a testament to the great leadership at Fort Washington,” Beltaifa said. “The power that comes from working together and having open communication between the providers and the administration is what got us here.”

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