by Sarah Sangosti
Lynne Wagner, RN, MHS and chief nursing officer at Rose Medical Center in Denver, has worked behind the scenes to improve patient well being.
She began her career in 1975 as a critical care nurse, where she made a daily impression on patient lives. However, she wanted her patient care to have a larger impact, so she moved into administration nearly 20 years ago. In 1997, Wagner earned her master’s degree in health care administration.
"I make a broader impact in administration because I make nurses’ lives easier, which reflects on patients," she said.
As CNO at Rose Medical Center, Wagner truly has expander her reach to patients through the motivation, support and resources she provides to the nursing staff. There are many programs at Rose that promote nursing excellence, including working toward Magnet Accreditation, maintaining nurse safety and implementing new nursing practices, among others.
Wagner takes pride in these programs and works hard every day to make sure they are effective and accomplished.
Rose Medical Center wants to earn Magnet accreditation because it recognizes nursing excellence on a national level, Wagner said. It will identify Rose as having an optimum nursing practice environment where nurses are empowered to do a good job and are respected as professionals.
Many of the characteristics Rose needs to earn accreditation are in place, Wagner said, including nursing empowerment and having a long history of nursing leadership not only in the hospital, but also throughout Denver.
However, the medical center is working on beefing up its committee structures and research basis before applying for Magnet status, she said. There are three areas Wagner is proud of in Rose Medical Center’s preparation for Magnet accreditation, including its shared governance structure, a recognition program and a focus on education.
Wagner said Rose’s shared governance structure makes sure nurses and other employees have a voice in the decision-making processes that effect their work environment. Partnership Councils were created to deal with all issues that are important to the staff.
"We have a central Partnership Council," she said, "where representatives from all patient care areas come together and work on improvements in care delivery. The units also have unit-based councils, where staff representing the different shifts and different roles work on improving processes and communicate with the rest of the staff."
The recognition program rewards professional activities in which nurses participate, such as earning certifications in specialty areas and attending or giving workshops. Nurses who’ve been employed at Rose Medical Center for two or more years are eligible to participate, Wagner said.
They complete an annual portfolio describing all of their professional activities. The work is reviewed by a peer committee and money is granted to each RN, up to $2,000 per year, to reward them for their professionalism.
Additionally, the nursing staff at Rose is encouraged to focus heavily on education. Wagner said Rose offers scholarships and tuition programs for employees who’d like to become nurses, as well as tuition payback programs. Continuing and on-site education is key at Rose.
"I think it’s [continued education] so important not only for patient satisfaction," Wagner said, "but also for the nurses so they can provide better care."
In addition to Magnet accreditation preparation, Wagner is proud of Rose’s commitment to safety.
"Patient safety speaks to nurses so strongly because if their patients are safe, they’re safe," she said.
Rose Medical Center has recently implemented a number of new safety measures to which the nurses have a direct connection.
"One of the most important parts of my job is to make the nurses work easier and safer," Wagner said.
Barcode medication scanning was recently introduced at Rose, which has improved safety and impacted nurses.
"Error rates have dropped significantly. Nurses feel that they have an automated double-check for medications they administer," Wagner said.
An electronic physician order management program was also recently implemented in pediatrics and the newborn intensive care unit. With this program, physicians type patient information directly into a system instead of handwriting the orders, as was previously done.
Wagner said this increases accuracy because there are fewer steps in the order process. The electronic physician order management program helps nurses because they are no longer the intermediaries putting information into the system so there is less possibility of error and it also allows nurses more time to interact with patients, according to Wagner.
More safety equipment has also been added to Rose Medical Center, including safety monitors, pulse oximerty machines and motorized stretchers. The safety monitors in the ICU perform sophisticated monitoring and measurement of cardiovascular and pulmonary trending.
The pulse oximetry machines allow patients to be moved from the intensive care unit to a regular floor bed by monitoring patient oxygen levels from a distance. Nurses are paged if a problem occurs. The motorized stretchers allow one person to gently push the stretcher instead of having two to three people needed.
To keep abreast of all the new technology introduced at Rose Medical Center, Wagner said they conduct Education Excursions, which are set up like education fairs. Nurses walk through the booths to learn about and test the different technologies with which they’ll be working. Rose also has web-based training, she said.
Lastly, Wagner is proud of Rose Medical Center’s newest nursing practice – a self-administered medication program for post-partum moms – which is going to begin sometime this month. With this program, nurses teach patients about their medication, including what it’s for, how much should be taken and how often it should be administered.
A locked cabinet is at the patient’s bedside, and when a medication is needed, the patient unlocks the cabinet and administers the medication herself.
Wagner said this program changes nursing practice because it takes control away from the nurses, but allows them to teach patients how to take their medications safely.
"Instead of passing pills, they [nurses] are teaching new moms how to care for their babies and themselves," Wagner said.
She said the nurses are excited about this program, but it’s too soon to tell.
Despite all the elements that make Wagner proud to be a part of Rose Medical Center and its nursing staff, she said working at Rose really comes down to the fact that its nurses provide the type of care she’d want to receive if she needed it.
"If my family were sick, I’d want them to be here. All the senior experience nurses stay because it’s a great environment for their patients," she said.