Christiana Care Health System’s Surgical Critical Care Complex (SCCC) earned a Silver Beacon Award for Excellence from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, recognizing consistently high achievement in quality and safety for the hospital’s most medically vulnerable patients.

The SCCC is Christiana Care’s fourth intensive care unit to earn a Beacon award. Christiana Hospital’s Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) and Cardiovascular Critical Care Complex (CVCCC) both hold successive Beacons. The Gold-level MICU is a three-time winner, and CVCCC has recently earned its second consecutive Gold Beacon honor. Wilmington Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit earned a Silver Beacon in 2016.

Ric Cuming, Ed.D., MSN, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN

“As the state’s only Level I trauma center, Christiana Care offers a valuable safety net to our community, with all levels of medical, surgical and specialty intensive care to serve our neighbors who become acutely or critically ill,” said Chief Nurse Executive Ric Cuming, Ed.D., RN, NEA-BC, FAAN. “We know that families hope they will never require the services of surgical intensive care, but should that day come, the Beacon designation is an added level of assurance that there is excellent critical nursing care in a patient- and family-centered environment to support them through the process.”

The 20-bed Surgical Critical Care Complex cares for complex post-surgical patients, patients with traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries and penetrating traumatic injuries, and patients with critical conditions including ruptured abdominal aneurysms, septic shock and hemorrhagic shock. The unit’s professional nursing team includes more than 60 registered nurses at the bedside who work closely with the interdisciplinary surgical critical care team. More than 86 percent of SCCC’s nurses hold a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Paula Smallwood, MSN, RN

Teamwork, collaboration and a shared commitment to outstanding patient care were the drivers of SCCC’s Beacon success, said Paula Smallwood, MSN, RN, nurse manager. “As a trauma unit, we’re here to save lives, and that takes everybody working together,” she said. “Every member of this extraordinary team strives to provide outstanding care and an exceptional experience for patients and their families while they are here with us. These nurses go above and beyond to make that happen.”

In evaluating the unit for Beacon, the AACN cited the unit’s comprehensive approach to continual quality improvement for exceeding key performance measures, including infection rates, unit-acquired pressure ulcers, patient falls and patient and family satisfaction.

The SCCC earned Christiana Care’s Zero Harm Award in 2016 for achieving 12 consecutive months without a Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection and is recognized for very low central-line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) rates.

AACN also acknowledged the SCCC nurses’ success in addressing the clinical, spiritual and cultural needs of their patients, as well as nurse-driven improvements for effective patient transfer to and from the unit to promote safe, high-quality, patient-centered care.

Kari Mimnaugh, BSN, RN, CCRN

Through the Beacon Award, AACN not only recognizes excellence in nursing care, but also excellence on the part of the hospital in providing a healthy work environment for the safety and satisfaction of its nurses. SCCC exemplars included the unit’s robust mentoring program to foster a healthy work environment for emerging nurse leaders and a unit-wide commitment and process for maintaining a safe work environment to support staff satisfaction and safety.

“We support our team’s professional development and their important role as caregivers so that we can give our all in service to our patients,” said Kari Mimnaugh, BSN, RN, CCRN, who is succeeding Smallwood as SCCC nurse manager. “We have a dynamic, dedicated team who understand and value the unique needs of our patients.”