SEASIDE - Nothing says "thank you" like a stack of flap jacks, sliced ham, scrambled eggs, fresh fruit and just about every other breakfast item one could wish for. Or, at least not at Providence Seaside Hospital, where staff are glowing after being rated the best hospital in Oregon's Providence system.

To thank the clinical staff for their efforts, the administrative staff arrived at the Providence Seaside kitchen at 6 a.m. Friday to make breakfast. The three hours of breakfast service from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. saw 150 of the 361 people employed by the hospital go through the line while listening to live music in the dinning room.

"We try to do our best," said Vickie Condon, the assistant administrator for Patient Care Services at Providence Seaside. She said the improvement in numbers was thanks in part to the goals set by the hospital to have nationally certified staff and to eliminate even small errors that show up as big problems in reporting because the hospital is a "small, rural hospital."

"Everyone is working so hard not to miss anything," said Condon.

The Providence system in Oregon includes hospitals in Hood River, Medford, Mt. Angel, Newberg and Portland, along with Seaside, and serves 19 other cities in Washington, California, Montana and Alaska.

Some of the improvements that have occurred over the last year, include better rankings in the Emergency Department as well as an extra emphasis upon safety and training.

In the emergency room, the staff has tried to minimize wait time and provide walk-in service at the walk-in clinic to alleviate the need to visit the emergency room and cut down on the cost to see a physician.

"(The emergency room is) sometimes the only face of a hospital," said Kirk Cazee, the nurse manager in the Emergency Department and the Intensive Care Unit. "If you're going to see anything in a hospital, you're going to see the emergency room, or most of the time."

Cazee said the Providence Seaside emergency room sees roughly 1,000 patients a month but pointed out that some of those patients are receiving treatments, like intravenous therapy, that are not really emergency room visits.

As for other areas of the hospital that have improved, Judy Martin, the nurse manager for the Medical-Surgical and Obstetrics Departments, said, her departments have gone 108 days without having a patient fall. She said it doesn't necessarily mean much to a casual observer but in a hospital it can mean anything from not falling while being helped to a restroom or while moving from a wheelchair to a hospital bed and a myriad of other examples.

"The staff has been outstanding," said Martin. "They have been open to national safety standards." She said Providence Seaside "rolled out" a program to emphasize fall protection and the entire staff has committed fully to following through with that program.

"We just keeping talking about it and talking about it. We talk about safety all the time," said Martin. "And we do safety huddles at the beginning of each shift." She said the safety huddles gave the incoming staff a chance to identify patients that may need extra help and to be cognizant of their whereabouts. Martin said the staff response has also been more of a group effort than before. If a patient was identified as a fall risk, often one person would be there to assist them in the past. Now, if a patient is identified as a fall risk, the staff, as a group, responds to help.

"There seems to be a renewed awareness that the patients are why we're here," said Martin.

The hospital has also tried to improve its response to patients in ways that seem very simple but have proved to be effective, including giving each patient a pen and a pad of paper to write down thoughts, questions for the doctors and nurses on rounds, or anything else that comes to mind.

"The patients are more engaged now," said Martin.

Patti Atkins, the public relations and marketing coordinator for Providence Seaside, said the Providence system ranked itself with patient surveys that were mailed out after each patient visited a Providence hospital. The Providence hospitals are also listed in a national ranking system with 1,500 other hospitals. In that national system, Providence Seaside had its Emergency Department rank in the 97th percentile and the hospital was also ranked in the 97th percentile for patients likely to recommend the hospital to other people.

"We don't do everything but what we do, we try to do really well," said Condon. "We want to give the best care."

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