Bridgton Hospital embarks on ‘Journey to Magnet’

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

‘SO HAPPY TOGETHER.....COMMITTED TOGETHER...EXCELLENCE AT BRIDGTON — Bridgton Hospital employees record lyrics to a short video clip celebrating the facility’s drive to achieve “Magnet” status. The recording was done at a Portland studio.

Bridgton Hospital has set a course for an unprecedented “journey.”

Many organizations strive for “excellence,” yet the local hospital is aiming for the highest recognition for “outstanding care” available in the health-care market — “Magnet status.”

“While Magnet indicates to the public that a hospital has shown outstanding nursing care, we want to strive for outstanding care from our entire organization,” said Karen Harding, R.N., Quality and Magnet coordinator. “Quality care involves everyone in the hospital, from being sure a room is comfortable for the patient, to treating the illness, to making sure that the person’s dietary needs are being met. When we talk about ‘quality care’ here at Bridgton Hospital, we are talking not just about nursing, we’re talking about a complete collaboration amongst all departments.”

Harding, along with other staff members including Nancy Murphy and Ann Kurnick, both registered nurses in the Critical Care Unit, have spent months collecting data (including comments from patient surveys), researching Magnet criteria and developing extensive reports outlining the “culture” at Bridgton Hospital and how the facility strives to provide quality care.

“We are constantly striving to raise the bar when it comes to patient satisfaction,” Murphy said.

If successful, Bridgton Hospital would be the first Critical Access hospital in the country to achieve Magnet status. Presently, there are 393 “Magnet” hospitals nationally, including Maine Medical Center in Portland.

“Other hospitals have done it under the umbrella of a larger facility. We decided to pursue this on our own, independently of Central Maine (Medical Center), which has also applied,” Harding said.

A Critical Access hospital is a facility, which is 15 miles from another medical institution, is in a rural area and has less than 25 inpatient beds. BH has 22.

Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway is also a Critical Access facility.

To “celebrate” the upcoming journey, a music video was created. It was unveiled last week.

“The Board of Trustees appreciates the willingness of the staff to take on this challenge,” said Phil Libby, president of the Bridgton Hospital Board of Trustees prior to last week’s “grand premiere” of the video.

Staff and administrators filled the outpatient waiting area in anticipation of the “long-awaited” and “much talked about” video. With many holding small bags of freshly popped popcorn, all eyes zeroed in on the television screen.

Entitled, “The Journey Together…To Magnet Recognition,” the 4 minute, 44 second video features opening comments by BH President David Frum and BH Vice President of Administration and Nurse Executive, John Ludwig. They define what “Magnet Is..”

“Magnet is an attitude. It is also a philosophy and a belief that relates to how our patients, our providers, our staff and how every single employee in this organization thinks about their daily work routines,” Frum said.

Magnet would signify that the level of care at Bridgton Hospital exceeds national standards. “Magnet for Bridgton Hospital is really a driving force behind recognition of the hard work we’re already doing,” Ludwig said.

After comments by Harding and Murphy, the video transitions from serious to somewhat silly. Why make a music video? Frum sets the stage by saying, “We wanted the staff to show their creativity and their excitement about applying for Magnet. And quite honestly to allow their personalities to come out.”

Staff from every hospital department takes part in a reworked rendition of the Turtles’ popular hit, “So Happy Together.” After considering a variety of possibilities, Murphy dug out an old vinyl 45 of the song, which was “my other choice for my wedding song,” she said.

“We changed the words to reflect Bridgton Hospital,” Murphy said. “We did some good roundtable brainstorming, and the words came together rather fast.”

Background music was created by Fryeburg Academy’s music department, under the direction of Brent LaCasce. Some hospital staff members — who appear in the video — spent time inside a Portland recording studio putting words to the music. Leighton Images of Pownal pulled together all of the components and created an interesting and entertaining clip.

Viewing the video, one arrives at two conclusions — “togetherness” certainly exists amongst the BH family, and the group is committed to achieve the national distinction.

“Our hope is the video goes viral — lots and lots of views,” said Pam Smith, director of development and community relations at Bridgton Hospital. “We hope people find it as fun and exciting as we think it is.”

To see the video, go to the Bridgton Hospital website (www.bridgtonhospital.org) or search on You Tube.

Word by 2012?

If all goes well, Bridgton Hospital will know whether “the journey” was successful by late 2012.

Harding said the extensive review process will include:

• Once the American Nurses Credentialing Center determines whether Bridgton Hospital meets all Magnet criteria and documentation is accepted, an onsite visit will be scheduled.

• A copy of Magnet documentation (about 15-inches thick) will be made available for public review. Copies will be placed at the hospital, and there is a possibility the information will be added to the BH website.

• Council representatives will interview patients to determine “what is written (by BH) is factual,” Harding said. “They want to substantiate that we are living what we are writing.”

• It will take six to seven weeks before BH officials hear whether they achieved their goal.

“If all goes well, we should know by the end of 2012,” Harding said.

Once a hospital gains Magnet status, the facility must re-apply for the designation every four years.

“We’re doing it not for ourselves as a hospital, but for our community,” Harding said. “By reaching Magnet, we’ll have proved we offer top level care and strive for excellence.”

What will Magnet status ultimately mean? Murphy said Magnet status does help in the recruitment of nurses and physicians.

“You can’t change your geography, but you can become a shining star,” said Murphy in regards to the challenges rural hospitals face in recruiting, especially physicians.

From the staff’s prospective, Magnet designation validates “what we are doing” results in quality patient care and “what we plan to do” will push Bridgton Hospital toward constant improvement.

Ultimately, Magnet status benefits the patient.

“By pursuing Magnet, we are taking ownership of what we do and what we can do better to provide patients with the best possible experience,” Murphy said.

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