2018 Fall Newsletter

A Message from the President.

Happy Fall, VAHQ!

Happy Healthcare Quality Week (this week) and International Infection Prevention Week (last week)! Thank you for all that you do to improve the outcomes of the patients and communities that we care for.

When I think of the fall I think of both the annual VAHQ and NAHQ conferences. This year we will be combining the latter two at “VAHQ Virtual and look forward to welcoming many of you to Richmond or Northern Virginia location to tune into the NAHQ annual conference on November 5-7! 

We are excited to share an exciting membership promotion that the 2018 VAHQ Board decided to run! Take advantage of this opportunity and share with your friends; we know that educational opportunities are important to you!

All who join or renew their membership between October 1 and the last VAHQ webinar (December 12, 2018) will receive free registration for the December webinar (value of $10). 

Drum roll please…. The 2019 VAHQ Board ballot will be shared with membership this week for voting! Keep an eye out in your email to learn more about the nominees and vote.

Thank you for your continued support and for the work you do in our care areas every day to improve the outcomes of our family, friends, and community!   


Elizabeth Mikula

2018 VAHQ President

Featured Board Members: 

Susan Pace, BSN, RN, MBA, CPHQ
Susan received her BSN from the Medical College of Virginia, Richmond, VA in 1987. In 2010 she received an MBA while attending Averett University. She worked as pediatric nurse in the Newborn ICU and in the Pediatric Emergency Department at MCV initially but moved into a Quality Management role and obtained her CPHQ by 1995. Since then she has had the opportunity to work for Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Virginia, HCA, Bon Secours, Sheltering Arms (Infection Control). Presently, while working at the Richmond VA Medical Center, Susan serves in the Quality Management Department in Regulatory Compliance.  

Susan had the opportunity to serve on the Virginia Association for Healthcare Quality Board (VAHQ) from 2004 – 2010 and rejoined the board in 2017.  She served as Secretary for two years and also as President for two years. Susan was honored to receive the Quality Professional of the Year award, VAHQ in 2011. Susan has been a member of the VAHQ for several years. When she rejoined the board in 2017 she helped with posts for social media, Facebook, and in 2018 she is co-chair for the Membership Committee. 

Sandra M. Kuhn, BSN, RN, LNHA, CPHQ
I am currently employed by Erickson Living Management LLC as the Staff Development Coordinator for Ashby Ponds. Responsibilities include staff training and development in all clinical and non-clinical areas within the Health Center known as Maple Grove. 
I was previously employed for  Inova Health System as Quality Consultant at Inova Loudoun Hospital. Responsibilities include maintaining regulatory survey readiness for the hospital, patient experience champion, and medical record reviewer. 

Prior to transferring to the hospital in 2010, I had Quality oversight for 2 Long Term Care facilities within the organization from 2006 - 2010. I also served as the interim Director of Nursing for one of the facilities from 2007 – 2009. Prior to 2006, functioned as the Director of Nursing in a continuing care retirement community from 2000 – 2006. I have extensive experience in mental health issue having served as Chief Operating /Clinical Officer for Piedmont Behavioral Health from 1997 – 1999. I have held various positions within nursing in both the Mental Health and Skilled Nursing fields since becoming a Registered Nurse in 1992.

I am currently in the process of completing both the RAC-CT and ICP trainings to enhance my knowledge and skills. I am currently actively involved in VAHQ having served on the Board as Secretary in 2013, and President in 2015. I was born and raised in Providence, R.I where I graduated from R.I. College with a BA in Psychology and BS in Nursing. My husband and I relocated to Leesburg, VA in 1998 with our 4 children; now ages 19 – 28.

Upcoming VAHQ Educational Webinars 

  • Wednesday, November 7th from 12p-1p Jake Marshal and Zach Oatis present Emergency Preparedness
  • December 12, 2018 from 12pm-1pm Debbie Griffith RN, CCRN will discuss Advance Care Planning: Honoring Choices Virginia and POST. 

October 21-27, 2018

Celebrate an entire week to
bring a greater recognition
to the work we do and the
value we provide to our 

We have added two more great reasons as we continue our list of TOP 10 Reasons why you should be a VAHQ Member

5.  Make Connections!
So many of our members have known each other for years, because they met through VAHQ! Our association offers multiple ways to interact and engage with one another. “Happy Hour” networking events such as “Wine Down Wednesday” and “Thirsty Thursday” provide a fun atmosphere to meet your fellow members and potential members. The annual VAHQ educational conference has long been the premier face-to-face opportunity for networking with other professionals who encourage the advancement of healthcare quality.  VAHQ members also have access to view the other member profiles via the website login. 

4.  Professional Development!VAHQ’s educational offerings provide timely and appropriate discussion of topics that are at the forefront of the healthcare quality profession.  The presenters are respected professionals whose experience in their field is evident in the subject knowledge they share with attendees. Attendees receive continuing education credits from NAHQ.

Resource Roundup

Performance and Process Improvement

The Joint Commission: Get the 4-1-1 on Survey Enhancements in new Joint Commission series

This new series takes a deeper look at high risk areas Joint Commission surveyors evaluate. The first topic focuses on sterile medication compounding, a  highly technical process that can lead to patient harm if performed incorrectly or in the wrong environment. 

To best prepare for these survey enhancements, hospitals should focus on the following areas:
Environmental assessment (including testing and certification reports for engineering controls) to ensure all required components are tested and  within acceptable ranges.
Product preparation assessment.

Appropriate completion of competency assessment for all pharmacy compounding staff.
For home care organizations, the new Medication Compounding standards chapter is being utilized to evaluate compliance. 

Patient Safety

Patient Safety Movement: An actionable solution for hospitals to reduce harm associated with hand-off communications. Accurate, effective and complete hand-off-communication are vital for patient safety. An estimated 80% of serious medical errors involve miscommunication between caregivers during the transfer for patients (Clutter—Part, C. (2012). Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare Releases Targeted Solutions Tool for Hand-Off  Communications. Joint Commission Perspectives).

Download 11 checklists you can adapt within your hospital today!

The 5 Surprising Places Where Superbugs are Hiding in Your Hospital

New research is helping hospitals find superbugs in places providers hadn't previously thought to clean. Here are the unexpected places where germs are turning up—and how three hospitals are fighting them.

A recent study surprised doctors, residents, and medical students by revealing bacteria on a piece of equipment they carry with them all day:  their stethoscopes. Stethoscopes can carry as many germs as "parts of the physician's dominant hand" following "a single physical examination," according to a 2014 study in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Another clinical study, conducted by NYU Langone Hospital—Brooklyn, found Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus—which can cause fatal infections—on the diaphragms of stethoscopes examined for contamination.

Some researchers said there is no definitive proof that unwashed stethoscopes directly contribute to the spread of infection, but others said that doctors should be more diligent about cleaning stethoscopes by using sanitizing foam to clean the diaphragm after each use.

More unexpected places where superbugs are hiding
Along with stethoscopes, here are a few other common hospital fixtures that accumulate bacteria:  

  1. Blood pressure cuffs: The Velcro on the sleeves collects bacteria and makes the cuffs difficult to sanitize  
  2. IV poles and pumps: Throughout the day, doctors, patients, and nurses touch the poles;   
  3. Wheelchairs: Patients in open-backed hospital gowns might touch the seats and backs of the chairs with their skin, which can cause contamination; and  
  4. Bed railings: Hospital staff, patients, and visitors touch bed railings during check-ins and visits.

As superbugs turn up in more—and unlikelier—places, several hospitals are taking new steps to prevent their spread.

Sentara Healthcare of Norfolk, Va., is using copper countertops, bed rails, and bed tables to fight the accumulation of germs and spread of infection. It is also investing in copper-infused patient gowns, bed sheets, towels, and washcloths.
Meanwhile, Stamford Health in Stamford, Conn., is prioritizing "environmental hygiene".

And two neonatal intensive care units at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA were declared "handshake-free zones" in 2016 to prevent physicians from spreading germs to patients.
(Knowles, Becker's Clinical Leadership & Infection Control, 9/10).

Want to donate stool? Be warned: It’s easier to get into Harvard or MIT

From Daily Briefing

New research shows fecal transplants are as effective as antibiotics as a first-line treatment for Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection—but donating stool for fecal transplants is not an easy process.

C. diff is an "an often intractable and debilitating bacterial infection that kills 14,000 U.S. residents annually. While antibiotics currently are considered the first line of treatment, FDA allows patients to receive fecal transplants after antibiotics have failed to treat C. diff infections.

A fecal transplant involves providing a patient with a healthy dose of gut bacteria, extracted from the feces of healthy people and delivered as either an enema or a capsule. The bacteria then multiply and ultimately crowd out the C. diff microbes. An average-size stool can provide transplants for five patients.

The screening process to donate stool is intensive, and many would-be volunteers don't qualify to donate their stool. Volunteers must first fill out a health questionnaire. Depending on their answers, they might be invited to an hour-long clinical interview that includes questions about the prospective donor's health status, health history, and family health history. Then their blood and stool must then undergo extensive tests to screen for infectious disease and pathogens. If a donor is accepted, they must commit to providing at least three samples a week for at least two months. Each donation must be provided at the clinical center, and donors receive $40 for each stool that meets the required standards.

Anybody need some Christmas money?????

Save the Date:  January 30-February 1, 2019 
Downtown Richmond Marriott


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