Humboldt General’s remodeled emergency department returns home

WINNEMUCCA —The Emergency Department at Humboldt General Hospital was back in its original location as of Tuesday morning, August 30.

Patients should now access the ER via Mizpah Street, following the hospital’s original signs for parking and admittance.
Those who experience extreme difficulty accessing the original location once on campus should call 911 and the hospital’s EMS personnel will lend assistance.
The ER moved from its current location to the hospital’s Physical Therapy Department on July 18 so that construction crews could complete an extensive remodel of the ER space.

Tuesday morning, staff members and patients were back home in the beautiful new quarters with a long list of improvements and upgrades.

HGH Inpatient Manager Jacqueline Dalley said the switchover was made possible by the hospital’s nightshift nurses who “really pitched in and did the majority of the move.” Dalley said by the time she arrived at 5 a.m., the bulk of the equipment and furniture had been moved over. “We’ve just spent the morning organizing,” she said.

Dalley said while the ER’s temporary quarters were difficult at times to work in, she praised all ER team members for their skill and professionalism amid the adverse circumstances. “As a group they did great,” she said.

The new and improved ER includes a private check-in area as well as walls between beds in order to heighten patient privacy. The nurses’ station also has been moved and remodeled in order to allow for a more commodious and efficient work environment.

The Emergency Department also now connects to the new physician clinics as well as the hospital’s administrative offices with its own enclosed lobby. This much-improved emergency waiting area will serve our community well into the future.
As always, the Emergency Room is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

For minor accidents and injuries, patients are encouraged to visit Humboldt General Hospital’s Walk-In Clinic, located in Suite C of the newly finished medical office building. Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. For more information on The Walk-In Clinic, please call (775) 625-7000.

HGH EMS Rescue awarded prestigious national accreditation

WINNEMUCCA — Humboldt General Hospital’s EMS Rescue Department has joined a small, elite group of ambulance services that have achieved the nation’s highest certification.

Emergency Medical Services Rescue Director Pat Songer received notification last month that HGH EMS Rescue has been nationally accredited through the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS).

Of the 15,000 licensed ambulance providers in North America, only 133 are CAAS accredited. With this achievement, HGH EMS Rescue becomes only the fifth ambulance service to be accredited in the State of Nevada and among the smallest and most rural in the entire United States.

Only a handful of ambulance services were awarded the accreditation this year.

“We are so honored to have received this certification,” said Songer. “For two years, my crew has been steadily working to achieve this honor; it is so rewarding to finally have the chance to post the CAAS accreditation logo.”

The Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS) was established to encourage and promote quality patient care in America’s medical transportation system.

Based initially on the efforts of the American Ambulance Association, the independent commission established a comprehensive series of standards for the ambulance service industry.

These standards often exceed those established by state or local regulation. The CAAS standards are designed to increase operational efficiency and clinical quality, while decreasing risk and liability to the organization.

Perhaps most important, say CAAS officials, is that the process includes a comprehensive self-assessment and an independent external review of the EMS organization which, upon successful completion, verifies to hospital, municipal, medical and residential communities that an EMS service provides the highest standard of care available in emergency medicine.

For Songer, it means the service has finally achieved EMS’s gold standard.

“When I first came to Winnemucca, I could see the potential of this service,” said Songer.

He said all the elements were there to help the service achieve CAAS certification, including a willing, motivated crew and a supportive administrative base.

“Plus, this is a department of Humboldt General Hospital. There are only a few services out there that are linked to hospitals, so we had an advantage right off the bat. You’re not a single struggling ambulance service. You’re one of 30-plus departments who are all working together to provide excellent patient care.”

Songer said when he first pitched the idea of CAAS accreditation to service members, he expected some natural skepticism, maybe even a dash cynicism.

“After all, this is CAAS certification,” he said. “This is the gold standard, the highest of the high. They already knew it was the toughest standard out there.”

Instead of negativity, though, Songer got a huge thumbs up. “It was incredible,” he said, “the more I talked about it and what we needed to do, the more excited we all became.”

Following a week-long training in Maryland in 2008 where Songer and Education Coordinator Ken Whittaker learned the ins and outs of the process (yes, even learning about the process took a week) members were still motivated. “and that was motivating to me,” he said. “I knew we had the whole team on board, and if everyone was ready to do this, I knew it could be done.”

Full-time member Tori Stephen accepted the challenge to get the ambulance service ready. Her goals fell into five areas, each a major feat in and of itself.

First, Stephen had to conduct a “self assessment” of the service, familiarizing herself with the commission’s standards for accreditation and then ensuring that the local service’s standards fell in line with the commission’s standards. That first step took nearly two years and included a serious evaluation of all protocols and procedures of the service, implementing new practices, modifying others and eliminating still others altogether.

The next step was to actually apply for CAAS certification—a signal to the commission that the service meets or exceeds all standards set forth. The application took months to complete and, to all crew members’ delight, was nearly complete with its first submission—a feat almost unheard of in the accreditation world.

Next came the evaluation phase. Following an off-site review of the submitted application, the commission then scheduled an on-site review consisting of visitation, interviews and observation by a two-member team of site reviewers. In HGH’s case, the reviewers included the former CEO of Hall Ambulance Service, Inc., one of the nation’s largest ambulance companies, and the current president of the American College of Surgeons.

The reviewers spent two days in Winnemucca in early February, conducting interviews and gathering information intended to verify that the service meets the standards established by the commission. Both of the men were very impressed with the local service and even went so far as to tell HGH CEO/Administrator Jim Parrish that in their estimation, and according to their experience, HGH EMS Rescue was one of the top 10 ambulances services in the country.

The actual determination of whether the service met all requirements was made by an independent, impartial panel of commissioners that represents health care, law and business.  Additionally, the panel includes one representative from each of the six major national EMS-related organizations including the American Ambulance Association, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the National Association of EMS Physicians, the National Association of EMTs and the National Association of State EMS Directors.

The commission also enjoys liaison representation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Approximately three weeks following the on-site review, Songer received the official letter granting CAAS accreditation to the local service, and giving HGH EMS Rescue the bona fide right to display the commission’s accreditation logo with pride on its ambulance vehicles and in its advertising.

The accreditation is valid for three years at which time the service will need to undergo a re-accreditation process, showing that it has continued to maintain or exceed CAAS standards.

“We’re just thrilled with the designation,” said Parrish. “We have one of the finest ambulance services in the country and we are proud to call them members of the HGH team.”

Songer credited his crew members for their dedication to leading the way in rural emergency medical services. “This community is so fortunate to have this kind of service,” he said. “Our crews work so hard to be excellent, but they never lose their care and their compassion.”

He added, “It makes for a superior service—and one that I’m very proud of.”

Humboldt General Hospital EMS Rescue has been in service for nearly 35 years. In 2010, the emergency service will respond to more than 1,500 calls across Humboldt County’s 9,626 square miles. Crew members also will provide medical certification training to more than 300 people this year.

For more information on Humboldt General Hospital Emergency Medical Services Rescue’s certification through the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services, please call Director Pat Songer at (775) 623-5222, ext. 160.

HGH employee honored for going the extra mile

WINNEMUCCA—Sandy Rose has always considered it her job to make sure birth records are filled out accurately and completely.  She found out recently, however, that not all other facilities take their jobs as seriously.

Humboldt General Hospital was recently honored for establishing 100 percent of paternities for unwed mothers.  Karen McLain, MSW, a social services manager with the State of Nevada Division of Welfare and Supportive Services, thanked Humboldt General in a recent letter.

“Children in Nevada deserve paternity established,” she said, noting that paternity information will benefit children emotionally, psychologically and financially as they grow older. “Thank you for the work you are doing daily in making this happen.”

The state’s Division of Welfare and Supportive Services ranked all 22 of the state’s OB units and found that paternity establishment ranged from 100 percent (HGH) to 33 percent (Las Vegas’ Mountain View Hospital).

Second on the list, after Humboldt General Hospital, was Las Vegas’ Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center with 87 percent.

McLain said research shows the best time to establish voluntary paternity is at the time a child is born. The likelihood of establishing paternity declines with time as parents fail to keep the relationship together.

“Sandy is to thank for this,” said Health Information Office Manager Crystal Mattson of the honor. “She’s made it a priority to get correct information and pass it along to the state.”

Mattson said there is a short “window of opportunity” during which paternity information can most receptively be accessed. “Once people leave the hospital, that opportunity fades. That’s why it’s so important for Sandy to gather that information while our patients are still here.”

Rose, a file clerk/chart analyst with the department, said her protocols are not unusual for Humboldt General Hospital. “We just make sure we get the information,” she said. “We go one on one, we chase them down; we do that extra calling, even if it’s out of state.”

She added with a grin, “If you can’t do that, then that’s just laziness.”

Rose said the hospital’s obstetrics department deserves a great deal of credit for helping to distribute and gather birth information forms, which include paternity papers. “They are always so helpful,” she said.

She also credited her department where an atmosphere of “correct information at all costs”  prevails.

Rose, who is nearing her 10th anniversary with Humboldt General Hospital, said she was surprised by the kudos from the state—surprised but grateful.

“We were just doing our jobs,” she said. “But I guess our hospital does go beyond, and it was nice to be recognized.”

HGH Phenomenon: Sisters give birth at the exact time

WINNEMUCCA.—Thursday, February 25, was a day that Dr. Bradford Granath will never forget.  The Winnemucca family physician not only delivered two babies within the same minute, but the two babies were cousins.

That Thursday, Louann Logan showed up at Humboldt General Hospital at 5 a.m. The previous Tuesday had been her due date and she was anxious to get her induction process underway.  Little did she know that her sister, Barbara Logan, also nearly nine months pregnant, had been laboring since 2 a.m. that same morning; she showed up at the hospital at 6 a.m. in the room next door.

“We were calling each other on our cell phones,” said Barbara, whose due date was March 4. “We were asking how far along we were and what was happening; it was pretty funny.”

It got even funnier—and more interesting—as the two women continued to progress at about the same rate.

Dr. Granath broke Louann’s water at about 10:30 a.m. hoping to get her ahead of Barbara, but it was to no avail. The two babies seemed determined to make their entrance at exactly the same time—and they did.

Areleah Jensen, Barbara’s daughter, was born at 1:38 p.m. Following a mad dash by Dr. Granath to the next room, Ainara Garcia, daughter of Louann and Gabriel Garcia, also was born

at 1:38 p.m.  Areleah weighed 6 pounds, 4.5 ounces and was 19.5 inches long; Ainara weighed 7 pounds, 4.5 ounces and was 20.5 inches long. Both babies join two sisters at home in Battle Mountain.

Barbara and Louann say they discovered they were pregnant at about the same time; a third sister, Barbara’s twin, is due in September. That will make grandbaby number 15 for their mother.

Maternal grandparents for both girls are Gerry and Paddie Logan of Battle Mountain. Paternal grandparents for Ainara are Jose and Delia Garcia, also of Battle Mountain.

The two women agreed that Dr. Granath may have been even more surprised than they were at the dual delivery.

“I think we were fighting over who would get to deliver first,” said Louann, “but Barbara went first by a couple of seconds and my nurse was yelling, ‘Dr. Granath, get in here.’”

Louann said her nurse encouraged her not to push until Dr. Granath could make it in. “Thank goodness he was quick,” she said, “because she was ready to be born.”

Barbara added, “I was expecting to go into labor early, but not on the same day.” Then she quipped with a smile, “I must have been jealous because Louann was going to have her baby and I wanted to have mine too.”

For more information on Humboldt General Hospital or its obstetrics department, please contact the hospital at (775) 623-5222, ext. 142, to speak with a nurse or to schedule a free tour.