Christiana Care’s Cardiovascular Critical Care Complex (CVCCC) has again earned a gold-level Beacon Award from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

This is the second consecutive such honor for the unit, signaling sustained staff-driven excellence in improving patient clinical outcomes that exceed national benchmarks and achieving the highest levels of satisfaction among patients and their families, as well as the nurses who serve on the unit.

The CVCCC first earned the three-year gold honor — the highest recognition of the critical care nursing profession — in 2013. They will carry the title from this most recent award through 2019.

Carolina Flores-Gopez, MSN, MHA, RN, CCRN, NE-BC

Nurse Manager Carolina Flores-Gopez, MSN, MHA, CCRN, NE-BC, attributes the CVCCC’s two-time accomplishment to the hard work and commitment of each of the unit’s 70 extraordinary professional staff nurses and their interdisciplinary partners. She  cites accountability and transparency as key drivers of the team’s success.

“We have really leveraged accountability. Everybody is a stakeholder in our unit’s success in providing safe, evidence-based care and partnering with our patients and families to provide the best possible patient experience,” Flores-Gopez said. “We worked really hard to promote meaningful transparency and a continual dialogue about all aspects of our patients’ care — from daily huddles to ongoing collaboration with the multidisciplinary teams. Each member of our team gives 100 percent. If we have the information and tools we need, we all believe there are no excuses.”

Key indicators for any critical care unit include optimal pain management, as well as reducing or eliminating patient falls, ventilator-associated pneumonia, central-line associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) and catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI). Flores-Gopez said the CVCCC team closely focuses on sustaining a restraint-free environment and extubating patients from ventilators as soon as medically appropriate. In March, the unit earned a Christiana Care Zero Harm Award for achieving 12 consecutive months without a Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection, and they have marked significant sustained periods without CLABSI or CAUTI occurrences.

The AACN also noted the unit’s innovative physical environment designed to promote healing and improved patient outcomes and satisfaction — features such as open visitation, daily quiet time, elimination of unnecessary alarms, private rooms with natural light, and the support of both a Healing Touch certified practitioner and the volunteer-based Mended Hearts support group. The unit has demonstrated its dedication to enhancing the patient experience and optimizing patient and family satisfaction through increasingly high performance on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers (HCAHPS).

Chief Nurse Executive Ric Cuming, Ed.D., RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, visits the CVCCC to congratulate staff for earning a second consecutive gold-level Beacon Award from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

Christiana Care Chief Nurse Executive Ric Cuming, Ed.D., RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, applauded the CVCCC team for sustaining its success in delivering care experiences that are patient-centered, data-driven and evidence-based.

“The Beacon Gold award signals the delivery of exceptional critical care and provides an assurance to families that no greater professional nursing care is available in their loved ones’ most critical hours,” Cuming said. “Beacon is also a visible signal to our extraordinary nurses of the unit’s commitment to supporting staff-driven improvements and providing a healthy work environment.” He said that there is a direct correlation between the quality of a nurse’s work environment and the ability to deliver excellent nursing care for optimal patient outcomes.

The 26-bed CVCCC provides evidence-based intensive and progressive care for critically ill cardiac medical and surgical patients, including those treated for myocardial infarction, acute decompensated heart failure, cardiopulmonary arrest, post-cardiovascular intervention and post-cardiothoracic surgery. The unit provides specialized care for patients requiring cardiac-assist devices — such as bridge-to-transplant and destination left-ventricular-assist device (LVAD), extra corporeal membrane oxygenation and intra–aortic balloon pumps — and serves those requiring slow, low-efficiency daily dialysis (SLEDD) transfusions and fluid resuscitation, pericardial drains and targeted temperature management.

Nearly 90 percent of the registered nurses in this synergistic critical and progressive care environment hold a BSN or higher, 27 percent of the staff is actively seeking advanced degrees and 57 percent are specialty certified. Nearly half of the staff has worked on the unit for at least five years. The unit maintains a Tier 1 (highest) rating in employee engagement in the Press Ganey Employee Engagement Survey.

The CVCCC joins Christiana Hospital’s Medical Intensive Care Unit, which has earned three top Beacon awards, and the Wilmington Hospital Intensive Care Unit, which earned silver recognition in 2015, in achieving the Beacon symbol of excellence.