A Message from the Senior Vice President of Patient Safety and Quality

June 7, 2018

Spring is finally here, and I’m looking forward to better weather, more time outdoors and more time with family as the school year comes to an end and summer begins. I’m also looking forward to bringing new energy and ideas to our work as we bring some exciting foundational elements for health care quality improvement into focus.

At the beginning of this month, I had the privilege of spending two days with hospital leaders from Washington, Oregon and Alaska at WSHA’s annual CEO and Trustee Patient Safety Summit.  We welcomed 218 hospital leaders, representing 58 facilities. This year’s topics were hospital worker resilience and health equity, as both are crucial elements of safety and quality.

Dr. J. Bryan Sexton presented hopeful research on restoring wellbeing for health care workers, who are increasingly strained by long hours, high patient loads and extensive administrative requirements. Research shows that stressed caregivers have poorer patient outcomes, but leaders who attended the summit were given practical suggestions for promoting a culture of health for their staff. Health care worker wellness will continue to be a focus for WSHA as we explore how to reduce provider burden, address workplace violence and decrease on-the-job injuries.

Additionally, we were fortunate to have national expert Joseph Betancourt lead an afternoon discussion at the summit around reducing disparities of care and practicing thoughtful cross-cultural medicine. Dr. Betancourt and his team also stayed an additional day to host a working session with hospital staff on how to implement health equity strategies in their facilities. We know that health outcomes vary between patients of different cultures, races and other social divides; this work is crucial to ensure that all patients receive high quality care.

As we continue work on quality improvement initiatives–from infection prevention to reducing medication errors to improving outcomes for moms and babies–I challenge you to pay special attention to these two foundational areas and incorporate them into your programs. Make sure your staff are healthy and safe. And examine how your outcomes might differ for patients of different social demographics and take steps to close those gaps.

As always, feel free to reach out to me or to any of my team if you need assistance!

Jennifer Graves, RN, MS
Senior Vice President, Patient Safety and Quality
Washington State Hospital Association


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