Samaritan Medical Center President; CEO Tom Carman and Vice President of Nursing Brian O’Hearn issued the following letter to the community in response to the recent nursing arrests at SMC. The intent of this letter is to provide members of the community with a summary of the events, Samaritan’s response, as well as reassurance that patient safety has always been and continues to be Samaritan’s #1 priority.
June 10, 2013
Dear Friends and Colleagues:
Over the past couple of weeks, the Samaritan organization has been dealing with some extremely unfortunate events involving the arrests of four nurses for various charges related to controlled substances. We wanted to take an opportunity to reach out to you directly to share details surrounding these events, as well as to reassure you that the discovery of this activity, as well as the investigation and action taken, was the result of proactive and effective leadership now in place in the Emergency Department.
Though it is disappointing that these activities occurred within our organization, it is important to note that the proactive auditing systems we have in place to identify and act upon this type of behavior are working exactly the way they were intended. Further, our Emergency Department leadership team took swift and deliberate action to notify the NYS Bureau of Narcotics, which ultimately led to the arrest of these individuals.
As you may be aware, there have been significant efforts and resources dedicated to the improvement of processes and patient satisfaction in the Emergency Department. A new management team is in place, which includes Ms. Robin Schroeder, RN, MSN, Director of Emergency Services, who joined the team in February 2013 and Mr. Brian O’Hearn, Vice President of Patient Care Services/Chief Nursing Officer, who arrived in late 2012. Dr. Maja Lundborg-Gray and Dr. Sarah Rowland-Delaney continue to provide outstanding leadership and support on behalf of the emergency physicians and providers.
Also in 2012, Samaritan engaged an organization called Emergency Excellence to assist in identifying and implementing the necessary changes. One of the most significant process changes, called “Rapid Clinical Evaluation” (RCE), is focused on getting the least acute patients through the system as quickly and efficiently as possible in order to free up staff and beds for true emergency patients. The implementation of these changes called for additional positions to be added. Those new positions were filled with agency nurses until permanent staff could be hired and trained. We do not typically have this high number of agency nurses at one time, and temporary staffing is certainly not the ideal situation; however, we felt it was necessary in order to implement the process improvements as quickly as possible.
In addition to the employment screenings conducted by the hiring agency, traveling nurses undergo the same on-boarding process at SMC as our permanent employees. This includes background checks, drug tests, nursing license validation and reference checks. No issues were identified during the on-boarding process of these individuals.
Though unfortunate, each of these cases demonstrate Samaritan’s diligence in identifying and acting upon these types of behaviors, as well as our zero-tolerance approach to dealing with this type of activity. The actions of these individuals are extremely disappointing to their colleagues and to the organization. However, their actions are by no means a reflection of the hundreds of other staff members who abide by the law and dedicate their lives to caring for patients. We are proud of our 800+ professional and dedicated nurses who continue to provide exceptional care and compassion to our patients and help to move Samaritan forward.
In closing, let us reassure you and the entire community that our efforts in the Emergency Department are resulting in numerous improvements to process, wait times and patient satisfaction. These recent events, though unfortunate, will make Samaritan a better and stronger organization as we move forward. Patient safety remains our top priority, and you can rest assured that we will not tolerate any action or behavior that could jeopardize the safety and well-being of our patients.
Thank you for your ongoing support of Samaritan’s efforts to advance local healthcare. We hope this information is helpful to you in understanding the situation, as well as our commitment to continually improving for the benefit of our patients and community.
Thomas H. Carman Brian O’Hearn
President & CEO Vice President, Patient Care Services/Chief Nursing Officer
Local health departments, hospitals, such as Samaritan, and community-based organizations are working together to complete a Community Health Assessment to inform a Community Health Improvement Plan for 2014-2017.
We are conducting a survey about the health needs of North Country residents in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties. Your answers are important to us. Your participation is voluntary and your responses will remain anonymous.
Please complete the survey no later than June 23rd.
Complete the survey here: Your Health Survey
Please join Samaritan Medical Center to our Open House to celebrate our new facility. Wenesday, May 22nd, 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m., 105 Barracks Drive, Sackets Harbor, NY
The ‘Great Strides’ Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Walk in Sackets Harbor is this Sunday, May 19th at 11 am. A few Samaritan employees are walking to honor someone special in their lives. Corinne John from Samaritan's Environmental Services is walking in memory of her sister Jana Boulton.
Jana lost her battle with CF in 2003 at the age of 23. Jana always believed in the initials ‘CF’ stood for ‘Cure Found’ and had always hoped to be a respiratory therapist someday. Support Corinne and the other that are raising funds for awareness of CF locally.
Visit http://www.cff.org/great_strides/ and find Corinne or her Team the Sackets Harbor Patriots or other walkers that are connected the Watertown – Sackets Harbor event.
Samaritan’s commitment to Cystic Fibrosis is evident by being the only Cystic Fibrosis Clinic in the North Country and is a proud supporter of the Great Strides Walk.
EIGHT SAMARITAN NURSES RECEIVE RECOGNITION AWARDS
Event Celebrates National Nurses' Week
Watertown, New York ----- As part of its National Nurses' Week celebration activities, Samaritan Medical Center and its Medical Staff hosted a reception and award presentation to recognize outstanding achievements by nursing professionals. Physicians, employees and Trustees from Samaritan were invited to nominate nurses based on their outstanding contributions to the professional practice of nursing in the areas of: quality and safety, education and mentorship, leadership, excellence in nursing practice, innovation/leading change, and Rookie of the Year.
"We have an incredibly gifted, committed, wonderful nursing staff at Samaritan, and National Nurses' Week seemed like the ideal time to celebrate their service to our patients and residents," states Dr. Collins Kellogg, Jr., Internal Medicine, SMC Department of Medicine. "As physicians, we work side by side with our nurses and witness their dedication each day. Any opportunity to strengthen fellowship and teamwork among doctors and nurses will ultimately be to the benefit of our patients."
A total of 63 nurses were nominated for awards in six different categories. Eight nurses were chosen by the selection committee as the 2013 recipients. The award categories are as follows: Leadership Award Education & Mentorship Innovation & Leading Change Quality & Safety Excellence in Nursing Practice (SMC, SKH, Family Health Centers) Rookie of the Year.
The 2013 recipients were announced at an awards reception on Thursday, May 9th at Samaritan Summit Village.
2013 Nurse Recognition Award Recipients
Leadership Award – One who consistently promotes the mission and vision of Samaritan; demonstrates commitment to organizational goals, priorities and strategies; promotes a culture in which employees are positive, challenged and involved; works collaboratively with other departments within the organization, and; positively promotes Samaritan within the community.
Recipient: Bonnie Trudeau, RN, Oncology Nurse Navigator, 22 Years
Education & Mentorship – One who actively shapes and promotes the career of a nurse; participates in mentorship of students or orientation of new graduates, nurses, nursing assistants, and other members of the healthcare team in supporting the provision of exceptional patient care; role models behaviors of exemplary nursing practice in an effort to improve patient care, and; advances own professional development and encourages peers.
Recipient: Gerald Chamberlain, RN, Progressive Care Unit, 22 Years
Innovation & Leading Change – One who participates in advocacy for change of policy/procedure/standard on an organizational or unit level; introduces innovative ideas in patient care; is viewed as a formal or informal leader by staff; actively participates in the successful implementation of a new program/procedures, and; works collaboratively with other departments within the organization.
Recipient: Jeff Jones, RN, 23 Years
Quality & Safety – One who leads and encourages shared decision-making when dealing with issues of quality, cost and patients/staff satisfaction; promotes patients and staff safety first in all activities, and; demonstrates a strong sense of inquiry and participates in/promotes evidence-based nursing practice and quality outcomes.
Recipient: Theresa Quintin, RN, Healthcare Resource Management, 35 Years
Excellence in Nursing Practice (SMC, SKH, Family Health Centers) – One who provides direct patient care at least 50% of the time; promotes flexibility and adaptability to situations; provides a positive work environment; serves as a role model to staff; utilizes current research and professional literature in practice; promotes change in the healthcare environment for improvement of healthcare; collaborates with nursing colleagues and other health-related professionals to facilitate quality care, and; promotes a professional image of nursing.
Recipients: Bobbie Bragger, RN, 5-Pratt Medical/Surgical Unit, 40 Years
Karen Jobson, RN, Emergency Department, 22 Years
Ann Millard, RN, SKH 5th Floor, 22 Years
Rookie of the Year - Rookie of the Year – One who has entered into practice within the past two years; consistently demonstrates excellence in his/her professional practice as a new nurse; demonstrates responsibility for own professional development, and; displays strong interpersonal relationships and communication skills.
Recipient: Wendy Casler, RN, Inpatient Mental Health, 2 Years
One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Early detection is the best defense against breast cancer.
On Thursday, May 16th, the “Love Yourself” project, coordinated through Cancer Services Program of Lewis/Jefferson County (CSP) and the local chapter of the American Cancer Society, is making it possible for under-insured and uninsured women throughout the tri-county area to receive free Breast Cancer Screenings. This is made possible through a partnership of local healthcare facilities including Samaritan Medical Center, Lewis County General, River Hospital, and Carthage Area Hospital, donating their time and services.
Woman can take advantage of the “Love Yourself” project by simply calling CSP at 376-5453. During the initial phone call, CSP will determine if the caller qualifies for the program and then provide the caller with a list of participating locations. The patient can then directly schedule the appointment with the location closest to them.
In Watertown, woman participating in the “Love Yourself” project will be directed to Samaritan’s Woman to Woman, for the breast exam. The patients can then choose to stay at Woman To Woman for the mammogram or go to Samaritan’s Watertown Breast Imaging.
At South Jefferson High School, the local chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) defined their mission as follows: "We are a student organization that believes in modeling and promoting healthy, positive life choices and values among our peers. In doing so, we hope to perpetuate and a positive culture here at our high school and beyond."
Members of SADD hosted family movie nights at the school to raise money for Children's Miracle Network of Northern New York at Samaritan. The students used movie night to help create a safe, positive family environment and enhance children's creativity. Movie night was open to the public with a basket raffle and concession stand. To promote attendance, the students provided a free donut party to the class with the most attendance.
Children's Miracle Network is a non-profit organization that raises money and awareness for its 170 member hospitals, including Samaritan Medical Center. All contributions to Children's Miracle Network of Northern New York at Samaritan benefit children in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties by helping to purchase medical equipment for Samaritan and other hospitals located in the tri-county region. In addition, Children's Miracle Network of Northern New York at Samaritan is one of only five hospitals that provides direct assistance to families with children in a medical crisis. For more information, contact the Children's Miracle Network office at 785-4584 or visit www.samaritanhealth.com
South Jefferson SADD members: Hunter Gillett, Leah Denny, Lara Podvin, Tessa Winkler, Sidney Hall, Lorraine Knipes, Mykaila Mayne, Elisha Bratton, Elizabeth Yeardon, Paige Vaadi (Vice President), Jackie Decker (Treasurer), Maddie Knapp, Hannah Northrop, Dana Cowles, Anna Winkler (President), Molly Denny, Hailey Maguire, Olivia Barker, Morgan Alexander, Quincey Zimmerman, Celsey Snyder (Secretary), Amanda Lloyd, Kylie Snow, Elisabeth Roberts, Lydia Babcock, Nikki Hutchison, Madesyn Alexander, Mikaela Rutter, Katie Elmer, Katie Sitts, Bria Podvin, Mallory Davis, and Tim Rogers.
Samaritan Medical Center will be entering into a management agreement with HCA/Genesis, Inc. to manage Genesis Home Health Care. The agreement will remain in place until a final purchase agreement and certificate of need is approved by the New York State Department of Health, when the home healthcare agency will become a Samaritan corporation.
Until yesterday, the Genesis Home Health Care offices were the last remaining tenant in the Mercy building at 218 Stone Street. The office was relocated to 199 Pratt Street, an office building on Samaritan's main campus in Watertown. There was no disruption in business as a result of the move, and the agency is still accepting new clients. The staff and office phone number (782-0415) remain the same.
"Genesis Home Health Care provides a vital service to the community," explains Thomas H. Carman, President and CEO of Samaritan Medical Center. "With the uncertain future of the HCA/Genesis organization, we wanted to ensure that this service remains available and stable in the community. As we look toward the future of healthcare reform, home health care is now more than ever a critical service in the continuum of care provided in the community."
SMC expects that the process to acquire the home health agency will take up to a year.
Genesis Home Health Care continues uninterrupted service to its current patients, and new patients are being accepted.