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FirstHealth nursing programs again earn Magnet® Recognition

| Date Posted: 6/28/2011

PINEHURST – FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital has reached yet another milestone with its new four-year recognition as a Magnet® Nursing Hospital.

News of the recognition, which now includes FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital (a division of Moore Regional) as well as FirstHealth’s school nurse, community health and Cardiac Rehab programs, came Wednesday, June 15, during a phone call from Craig Luzinski, director of the Magnet Recognition Program®.

Cheryl Batchelor, R.N.

A “Congratulations” slide popped onto a screen behind Interim Chief Nursing Officer Cheryl Batchelor, R.N., as the nursing staff of FirstHealth Health Moore Regional Hospital learned that it had received its second Magnet® Nursing Hospital recognition. The new recognition also includes FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital in Rockingham as well as FirstHealth’s school nurse, community health and Cardiac Rehab programs.

“You’ve done a good job,” Luzinski said.

Only 386 hospitals worldwide and just 21 hospitals in North Carolina currently hold the Magnet recognition, a program developed by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) to recognize health care organizations that provide nursing excellence. Moore Regional received its original recognition in October 2006.

Interim Chief Nursing Officer Cheryl Batchelor, R.N., called the news “phenomenal” and noted how the recently completed process had “raised the bar” for Magnet recognition with the current concentration on patient outcomes and satisfaction.

“That, to me, speaks highly of the quality of nursing care we provide at Moore Regional and the outside areas,” she said. “This is really an exceptional moment for all of FirstHealth, not just for nursing. There are so many aspects involved. This recognition challenges us all to continue to move forward and improve every day.”

The recognition announcement came shortly after 3 p.m. before a Monroe Auditorium gathering that included FirstHealth CEO Charles T. Frock and many of the nurses who had been involved in the long application process. A live remote feed from Rockingham allowed Richmond Memorial Hospital President John Jackson and several members of the RMH nursing staff to participate in the proceedings, too.

“I am very proud of the professionalism and dedication demonstrated by the RMH nursing staff over the course of our Magnet journey,” said Allison Duckworth, R.N., Richmond Memorial’s chief operating officer and nurse executive. “I would like to thank all of the RMH nurses who made this achievement possible. I would also like to acknowledge the support provided by the Foundation of FirstHealth and our nursing colleagues at Moore Regional in our shared efforts to achieve Magnet recognition. The attainment of Magnet status validates our commitment to nursing excellence and superior patient outcomes. We are thrilled to become one of only 21 Magnet hospitals in North Carolina.”

During his announcement call, Luzinski noted two “exemplars” that had especially impressed members of the Magnet survey team during their site visit to the FirstHealth facilities in March. One is the Moore Regional Hospital Foundation and its longtime support of nursing programs and education.

“They’re doing great things for you,” said Luzinski.

In the past three years alone, the MRH Foundation has supported FirstHealth’s nursing program with $167,166 for clinical education and $295,542 for positions and staffing (including a nurse retention specialist) and $168,198 for technology directly related to improved patient care (including a computerized human simulator for EMS and a resuscitation simulator for the NICU).

The Foundation also supported the Magnet application process by funding a temporary registered nurse position at Richmond Memorial to coordinate the hospital’s first-time Magnet activities.

“With all the instability facing health care in these uncertain times, more and more nurses have become pivotal in transitioning us through health care reform,” said Kathleen Stockham, president of the Foundation of FirstHealth. “Without continuing education, there is no way our nursing staff can be expected to perform in this environment and offer the creativity required to make change and improve processes. Simply stated, supporting our nurses is almost a selfish act since it fosters the quality of care we have all come to expect.”

The Magnet surveyors also made special mention of FirstHealth’s School Nurse Program, which provides on-site services to thousands of children in 24 public schools in Moore County. The FirstHealth program was the first school nurse program in the nation to achieve Magnet status and now is the first to obtain the recognition for a second time.

“(The schools) are getting some excellent care from you,” Luzinski said.

The Magnet surveyors were especially impressed by the contributions of the seven school nurses to a Moore County Schools Health and Wellness Policy that is more stringent than the State Board of Education mandates. The policy requires that 75 percent of the items in school vending machines be healthy choices and that vending machines be turned off during the school day. It also discourages the use of candy as rewards for school achievement.

“We also use an electronic medical record-keeping system designed specifically for school nurses,” says Program Manager Phyllis Magnuson, R.N. “This system collects critical data regarding health and wellness, tracks trends in health issues and even alerts the school manager if disease symptoms are becoming more contagious than normal and where they are taking hold in schools – down to individual classrooms.”

Unlike the original 2006 Magnet application, which centered on processes, the recent application concentrated on the performance of the FirstHealth programs as compared to national nursing benchmarks for clinical outcomes, Batchelor said. Information was based on “nurse-sensitive indicators” including patient falls, pressure ulcers, restraint use and specific information relating to specialty units (such as pain management for pediatric patients.)

“This is the gold standard for nursing,” Batchelor said of the Magnet recognition. “This is the ultimate in terms of top performance in nursing practice. It’s not a popularity contest.”

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