This September, more than 240 nurses from across Pennsylvania gathered in Lancaster, Pa, for the 2013 Nurse Alliance of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania Fall Education Forum. The program, “Making Quality Happen,” focused on giving frontline nurses the tools and information to provide quality care for the patients and to advocate for better hospital conditions for nurses and patients alike.
Two nationally-recognized speakers led this year’s program — Dr. Jeannie Cimiotti, DNSC, RN, Executive Director for the New Jersey Collaborating Center for Nursing, and John August, Associate Director for the Health Care Transformation Project of the Cornell University Institute of Labor Relations.
Dr. Cimiotti offered a presentation on how frontline staffing directly affects rates of hospital-acquired conditions and patient outcomes overall. She reviewed pertinent research regarding how proper staffing can improve outcomes for patients, including direct links between staffing numbers and patient mortality, and how issues like poor staffing, long hours and mandatory overtime can threaten patient safety. Dr. Cimiotti also looked at how mandated nurse-to-patient ratios like those in California have improved quality of care as well as working conditions.
August offered nurses insight into the future of healthcare in our current economic climate, one with a dwindling middle class and sky-rocketing healthcare costs that don’t produce the outcomes on par with expenditures. He outlined how healthcare reform, investment for growth and innovation born from frontline collaborative efforts were key to the future success of the healthcare industry. August also highlighted organized labor’s role in advocating for those solutions and driving the investment and innovation from the ground up through meaningful collaboration with management.
After a brief break, nurses returned to the conference for a panel discussion on best practices for improving quality and patient safety featuring presentations by four groups working in the field. Dr. Patricia Gerrity, Director for 11th Street Family Health Services, offered an in-depth look at her organization’s work as a source of direct-care for at-risk communities. Nurses from UPMC Altoona offered tips from their unit on optimizing the patient experience and providing high levels of quality care. Nurses from Allegheny General Hospital gave a presentation on how their work with the Nurse Collaboration Council improved the quality of care and the value of their work with patients. Finally, Rita Treager, RN and Leslie Schultz, RN, of Westmoreland Manor, spoke to nurses about reducing avoidable hospital readmissions in long-term care settings. The groups also took time to respond to direct questions and concerns raised by nurses attending the panel discussion.
Following the presentations, nurses broke out into workshop groups for more intensive instruction and discussions on topics like legal issues arising from nursing practice, best practices of unit-based teams, strategies for avoiding readmissions, communications and messaging, and critically evaluating research to form evidence-based practices.
Nurses attending the forum received six continuing education credits for their involvement and many signed on to receive additional information and further educational programming notices from the Nurse Alliance.
Following the continuing education program, the Nurse Alliance of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania recognized two state legislators who have championed healthcare issues in Pennsylvania with the Thomas J. Zuber Memorial Patient Safety Award. This year’s honorees, Senator Vincent Hughes and state Representative Dan Frankel, have worked tirelessly advocating for issues in support of patients and healthcare workers.
The award is named in memory of Zuber, an SEIU nurse whose hard work and perseverance was key to the passage of legislation banning mandatory overtime in Pennsylvania. Tom passed away before the law was finally passed, but we honor him and his passion for his work with this award.