Christiana Care’s Cardiovascular Critical Care Complex (CVCCC) has won a gold level Beacon Award for Excellence from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN), one of the most important recognitions available to hospital units. The AACN has announced only 27 Gold level awards this year nationally, and Christiana Care is the only hospital in Delaware to have achieved one.
“This outstanding achievement is an example of the CVCCC’s commitment to excellence in the many projects and initiatives they’ve undertaken to improve patient outcomes, including patient safety and overall patient and family satisfaction,’’ said Diane Talarek, RN, MA, NE-BC, chief nursing officer and senior vice president, patient care services.
In its award announcement letter, the AACN cited the accomplishment as “one of many significant milestones on your unit’s journey to optimal outcomes and exceptional patient care.’’ Beacon awards are given at three levels: bronze, silver and gold. They are active for three years. To achieve the gold, according to the AACN, recipients must “demonstrate excellence in sustained unit performance and patient outcomes.’’
The award caps a concerted two-year effort to bring three discrete units — Cardiac Medical Intensive Care, Cardiovascular Surgical Intensive Care and Open Heart Stepdown —together into one cohesive and highly functioning operation.
“In coming together, we had a picture in our mind of where we wanted to be,’’ said Kirstan Baxter, RN, BSN, CCRN-CSC , nurse manager of the CVCCC. “The staff themselves did the legwork,’’ setting up a shared governance system, adapting to changes in workflow and cross-training. Now, she said, “we have incredible teamwork. You can feel how dynamic it is when you walk in the door.’’
The Beacon application process guided the successful merger of units, said Kristen Koechert, BSN, RN, CCRN, chair of the coordinating council that put the book-length application together. “You have to identify the issue, plan the team, implement change and keep it going,’’ she said. “The staff, the nurses, the unit clerks — everyone really embraced it. They wanted to be cohesive. I’m proud of the whole staff,’’ she said.
Beacon Award criteria align with such major awards as Magnet recognition, which Christiana Care earned in 2010, to indicate quality patient care and nursing excellence. Christiana Care’s Medical Intensive Care Unit won a silver Beacon Award in 2012.