What Do We Mean by Quality?
When we think about quality in relation to a product or service, we often think about its durability, craftsmanship or value compared to other similar products or services. While healthcare can be measured in much the same way, there are additional elements that affect its quality.
The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) actually has identified six domains of quality – safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient and equitable – which we at Skagit Regional Health aim to exceed every day.
Keeping Our Patients Safe
When doctors and nurses recite their professional pledges, they promise first to do no harm to their patients. Every single physician, surgeon, nurse, clinical support staff and employee at Skagit Regional Health is dedicated to not only keeping our patients safe, but to keeping everyone in our environment safe as well.
This is why we have many standardized processes and procedures throughout our health system for clinical and nonclinical functions. Doing so helps us ensure all necessary steps are taken to promote safe care for our patients as well as a safe environment for all those who share it.
Providing Effective Care
The care we provide is deeply rooted in evidence-based practices. Meaning our diagnostics, procedures and treatments are based as much as possible on tried-and-true science, so we don’t overuse, underuse or misuse a practice. Moreover, the clinicians who work in our service areas are specialty trained, board certified and knowledgeable of best practices and advances in these areas.
Putting Patients First
Keeping you healthy may be our job, but we understand it’s your health – your life. This is why you, the patient, are always at the center of care. We are compassionate, sensitive and responsive to your needs, preferences and values. You and any caregivers you designate will always be involved in clinical decisions.
Providing Timely Care
In order for care to be effective, it must also be timely. This is not only to promote better outcomes, but it’s also to ensure you’re satisfied with your care.
We integrate technology and other time-saving processes into our workflow to reduce wait times, improve accessibility and prevent delays that can be harmful to either patients or their caregivers. Our laboratory services are also within our system, which not only allows us to control the quality in the lab, it also reduces the amount of time it takes to receive lab results.
We are mindful of our resources and promote efficient use of all equipment, supplies, energy, time and other commodities, minimizing waste whenever and wherever we can.
Treating Patients Equally and Fairly
Healthcare quality at Skagit Regional Health will never vary due to a patient’s personal characteristics. This means you will never be treated differently due to your gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, geographic location or socioeconomic status.
We treat all patients equally and fairly with sensitivity and compassion. We are mindful to always show respect, dignity and kindness to our diverse communities, caring for patients’ physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
Wayne Ramsey: Healthy, happy and exercising
The Centers for Disease Control recently estimated more than 100 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes. Wayne Ramsey of Big Lake wants to make sure he doesn’t become one of those statistics.
Ramsey is the first to admit that he had poor eating habits, didn’t exercise much, carried too much weight on his 6-foot 4-inch frame and drank two liters of Diet Coke daily. These circumstances, combined with a family history of diabetes, put him at risk of developing the chronic illness.
Four years ago, Ramsey was “just about as close as you could be to being diabetic” when he walked out of a doctor’s office visit where he was given the diagnosis of prediabetes. His fasting blood sugar was 162 (well above the norm of 100 to 125) and his hemoglobin A1c was 6.2 percent (above the norm of 5.7), placing him very close to the threshold for diabetes.
“I have a real strong feeling about not getting diabetes. Diabetes kills a lot of people,” Ramsey said. “I have seen diabetes firsthand and you don’t want any part of that. I was given a second chance, and I don’t look at this second shot lightly at all.”
Ramsey took that news as a call to action. He enrolled in the Diabetes Education Program at Skagit Regional Health and began following the advice of the dietitians – aka “food coaches” – to eat healthy foods, exercise more and drop the diet soda habit. By following their advice, he saw results.
“They gave me hope right away,” he said. “I listen to everything they tell me. They always answer my questions. As a patient who cares about my health, that’s important to me.”
Four years later, the 60-year-old agriculture teacher at Sedro-Woolley High School has lost 50 pounds, his blood sugar is 125-126 and the A1c is 5.5, well within normal range.
Ramsey has worked hard to change his numbers.
“I know I have a shot at avoiding diabetes, so I work really hard,” Ramsey said. “If I don’t stay on top of it, it could get to a point where I can’t manage it.”
Ramsey’s physical activity schedule is impressive. His regimen includes tennis, swimming, walking hills, splitting wood, walks after every meal and gym workouts. In the gym at Riverside Health Club, his sessions include 450 crunches, 15 pullups, 45 curls, 45 butterflies and an hour of swimming before he hits the steam room.
Education about diet, exercise and prevention has been key and Ramsey enjoys working with Registered Dietitian Christina Sackman who teaches classes at Skagit Regional Health and provides support to patients.
“We teach the basics of nutrition and remind patients why we need to eat more vegetables and how to do it,” Sackman said. “The diabetic diet is really about portion control. It’s about more vegetables and less carbohydrates and controlling those portions – that’s a big issue.”
Sackman said she has enjoyed the chance to work with Ramsey, who she says is an inspiration to her.
“He makes me feel encouraged, just because he is so excited to receive the information. It’s refreshing,” she said. “It’s all about the patient. Even if they try one little thing, one step to a healthier lifestyle, those small changes add up.”
Ramsey knows about that firsthand.
“I thought my life was over when I walked out of that doctor’s office over four years ago,” he said. “But this hospital, clinic, these people and coaches, they are gifts. They gave me hope.”
A message from Wayne:
“I would like to send a message to others who find themselves facing a diagnosis of pre- or full diabetes. It may seem like the end of the world you now know. It was for me. But that was the best thing for my health that ever happened to me. With the support of dietitians, I made changes in my life I never thought I would do. They were patient and accepting as they hoped I would quit drinking diet soda, which took me three years. I would encourage you to start working with a dietitian. They start out teaching you about your disease but end up coaching you and encouraging you to make lifestyle changes that help you be a healthier you. Never in my time working with dietitians did I ever feel like I was being judged, I only felt like I was special and worth the help they gave me. You can do anything I have done. Please don’t give up. Good luck.”