Patient care is focus of program at CPGH

Posted: Thursday, June 06, 2002

Patients will one day have more say about their treatment at Central Peninsula General Hospital.

CPGH announced Christine Blackgoat, the hospital's chief nursing officer, will take part in a program that will help the hospital improve the patient experience and implement a culture of patient-centered care as the first recipient of the one-year National Research Corporation-Picker Institute Fellowship.

"High-tech is good at helping identify patients' (problems) and diagnosing a solution," Blackgoat said. "But we're not so good at patient comfort, dignity and choice.

"When you become a patient at a hospital, it can become a pretty anonymous experience. Our goal is to personalize it and make it a more enjoyable experience."

Blackgoat, who has been at CPGH since November 2000, said including patients in their treatment helps improve recovery.

"Patient-centered care forms a partnership between the patient, nurse and doctor," she said. "We recognize that we have very knowledgeable patients who want to know what's happening to them, why it's happening and what their choices are. In providing that knowledge, they can take a very active role."

Blackgoat deferred credit for the accomplishment to the hospital and those working with her.

"The fellowship is an honor," Blackgoat said. "It really isn't about me, it's about the hospital (and) the great group of professional nurses I work with."

Blackgoat and a team of nurses -- Gypsy Jolly, Patty Moran, Kelli Sweatt and Katie Davis -- will help develop a patient-centered nursing delivery system in the medical-surgical care area of the hospital.

Looking for information on how to establish patient-centered nursing care at CPGH, Blackgoat contacted the Picker Institute, part of the National Research Corp., a research foundation that assists health-care organizations' efforts to improve the quality of the care they provide. Tam Mahaffey, NRC director of corporate education, said the fellowship was established last year to further that goal.

"If we could select a fellow who could champion the effort to create a patient-centered culture, we could measure and do research on improving the patient experience," she said.

Mahaffey said she encouraged Blackgoat to apply for the fellowship. The CPGH nurse was selected from six applicants.

Mahaffey said one reason Blackgoat won over applicants from larger hospitals was because CPGH's size made for an easier transition from the hospital's current general nursing culture to a patient-centered culture.

"Larger hospitals were going to have a harder time doing what Christine is going to do," she said. "To do an actual culture change takes many years for larger organizations."

The fellowship will provide resources and training from NRC and its affiliates, including Kaiser-Permanente, United Health Care, the U.S. Department of Defense, Blue Cross-Blue Shield and the Mayo Clinic.

Blackgoat will travel to Boston in July to be introduced as the first fellowship recipient at the Picker Institute International Symposium. In exchange for the training and resources she -- and, subsequently CPGH -- will receive, she will document her findings during the fellowship period in an article to be presented at the 2003 symposium.

Blackgoat said she is looking forward to the chance to learn and to raise the visibility of health care in the state.

"It will be a kind of exciting year in that we'll get to interface with health care leaders from all over the nation. And we get to show how important health care is in Alaska."

Diana Zirul, board president of CPGH Inc., the nonprofit organization that runs the borough-owned hospital, said she is happy with Blackgoat's nomination.

"The CPGH Inc. board was extremely pleased to have Christine selected for the fellowship," she said. "We look forward to an exciting relationship with the National Research Corporation-Picker Institute throughout this fellowship year."

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