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Working Together

Nominated by Krystal Bates, CNA

When I first came to work at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, I had no idea what I was in for.

I never could have imagined working with such a highly intelligent group of people as I do in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit in the heart of Philadelphia. I have seen people come through here that should have died, but walked back through the door a year later to thank us. Everyone is constantly reading up on new procedures and ways to cut down on infection.

Most of the CNAs are enrolled in a nursing program. Our nurse manager is always accommodating with our ever-changing class schedules, and many of the nurses are masters prepared or currently working towards advanced degrees. All of the nurses are trauma and ACLS certified and more than half are CCRN or ATCN certified.

Advanced Monitoring Equipment

We are proficient in caring for high acuity patients with complex injuries using advanced invasive monitoring, including CCO (continuous cardiac output monitoring)/EDVI (end diastolic volume index), pulmonary artery catheters, CRRT (continuous renal replacement therapy) and LicoxT brain tissue oxygen monitors.

Many of our staff, including nurses, assistants and secretaries attend hospital-wide committee meetings and report back to the rest of their coworkers anything new they have learned. People are finding new cures and treatments in medicine every day and it is a priority of staff on Rhoads 5 to stay up to date in the ever-evolving world of surgical and critical care.

Teamwork Extraordinaire

Not only do I work with the smartest group of people on the East Coast (I am a little biased), I also seem to work with mind readers. The concept of teamwork is well-defined on Rhoads 5. It is our culture here and we truly "walk the walk." From routine admissions to code situations, no one is ever alone.

It is amazing to see things run so smoothly in such a life threatening situation. We have the utmost confidence in each other and depend on that to ensure a good outcome with every patient. It is not uncommon to have one or more codes on Rhoads 5 on any particular day, and they couldn't run more smoothly. Leave it to the SICU staff to be calm, cool and collected while saving someone's life. Everyone works so well together and there is rarely any animosity, and with over 100 staff members, that's quite a feat! Everyone is approachable on Rhoads 5, and with new nurses coming on and people's lives at stake, that's an important quality for a unit to have. Nobody likes to see anyone else struggling, and so people are always offering their coworkers help. Whether it be picking their brains or borrowing their muscles, everyone is willing to lend a helping hand.

Creative Minds, Patient Safety

The staff on Rhoads 5 is committed to upholding high standards of care. In one of our most unique initiatives, a senior staff nurse created a patient safety audit and worked together with both the nurse manager and clinical nurse specialist to develop the "Surveillance Nurse" role. The group has even taken the original paper tool and developed its electronic equivalent: The Infection Control and Safety Surveillance tool. This tool was designed to track staff compliance with current evidence-based hospital and unit standards.

These audits were performed several times a week focusing on the prevention of nosocomial infections such as bloodstream infections, ventilator-assisted pneumonias and urinary tract infections, as well as other patient safety issues such as patient identification, alarm safety, pressure ulcer prevention, DVT prevention, medication safety and preventing the dislodgement of medical devices. While tracking the staff compliance with standards is a non-punitive process, it does increase the accountability of the staff members, thereby helping to promote a culture of safety and support.

Recognized for Excellence

In recognition of our on-going efforts, Rhoads 5 has been a recipient of organizational, state and national awards. We were recently honored with the AACN Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence for 2008, making our team a three-time consecutive award recipient.

We are very proud to have been the first Beacon unit in the Philadelphia area for 2005-2006, and the first for the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. We earned this prestigious award by demonstrating success in the areas of recruitment and retention, education training and mentoring, research and evidence-based practice, patient outcomes, leadership and organizational ethics and a healing environment.

In 2004, we were awarded the University of Pennsylvania Health System Quality and Safety Award in recognition of clinical effectiveness and quality improvement initiative for "Improving Intensive Care," and again in 2006 for the "Implementation of a Critical Care Telemedicine System" with "smart" data analysis and electronic documentation.

In 6 of the last 8 years, a nurse from our team has been chosen by the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania's Trauma Center at Penn as Trauma Nurse of the Year, in recognition of extraordinary contributions to trauma nursing center. Finally, in 2005, our team was awarded the Hospital and Health System Association of Pennsylvania Achievement Award for "Quality of Care, Service and Safety."

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