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Oaklawn staff focus on health-care quality, improved patient experience

MARSHALL – Staff at Oaklawn have been looking over the past year to acknowledge – and learn from – new and better ways that improve the hospital experience for patients.


“The Oaklawn staff is dedicated to improving patient-care outcomes by improving our health-care delivery system,” said Donna Darlington, who serves at Oaklawn’s quality improvement coordinator.


Staff members now are preparing for National Healthcare Quality Week, Oct. 18-24, to recognize the impact each person has in providing a high-quality experience to the hospital’s patients, said Darlington, who also is a registered nurse.


“Oaklawn prides itself on bringing state-of-the-art health-care technology and practice to our community,” Darlington said, adding that this year’s observation is reaching out to involve the entire Oaklawn staff through displays and information sharing.


Irene Johnston, a 13-year Oaklawn employee, said one example of such improvement came as the result of a workflow analysis conducted by Oaklawn staff in early January.


That analysis allowed the hospital’s emergency and medical/surgical departments to work together to decrease the amount of time patients wait in the Emergency Room before transfer to a hospital bed, said Johnston, one of those who is preparing a display to share the results of the process with other staff members.


Those involved in the workflow analysis were able to pinpoint ways to streamline the process by changing how reports were delivered, removing unnecessary communications steps and creating a visual system to assist staff to identify rooms prepared and ready to receive patients, Johnston said.


After implementing the changes, the length of wait time had been reduced from an average 130 minutes to just less than an hour, Johnston said.


“That’s just one of the examples we’ll be discussing as part of our activities at Oaklawn during this special week,” Darlington said.


National Health Care Quality Week is sponsored by the 5,000-member National Association for Healthcare Quality and highlights the influence of health-care professionals in achieving excellent patient care and health-care delivery systems. More information about the event is available at


Health-care services nationwide come together each October to bring attention to specific health-care needs, and honor those who provide medical services.


At Oaklawn Hospital and elsewhere, the events include weeklong celebrations focusing on emergency staff and overall health-care quality, as well as mental health, physical therapy and respiratory and emergency care for patients – all planned in conjunction with national observances.