Rockcastle Regional Hospital and Respiratory Care Center has received the prestigious Kentucky Hospital Association Quality Award for the tenth time in the last 16 years.
Rockcastle Regional earned the award because of its efforts regarding suicide prevention through assessment, detection, education on, and management of suicide ideation.
According to the CDC, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the Unites States. In Kentucky, about 155,000 adults aged 18 or older (4.7% of all adults) had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year.
“Our facility, like the rest of the state and nation, was seeing an increase in patients presenting with behavioral health issues,” said quality and patient safety director Cynthia Burton, RN. “We face the same barriers as other healthcare organizations in Kentucky, which is timely access to the mental health system as well as how to manage the behavioral health of our patients.”
Rockcastle Regional Chief Nursing Officer Tammy Brock said that, as a community hospital, their staff is at the front line of identifying suicide ideation in patients. “Our staff is trained in taking the steps necessary to assist these patients to receive the care and support that best fits their situation.” In 2018, the organization began a focused initiative to improve staff’s ability to appropriately address the behavioral health needs of the community.
“Developed through a comprehensive, team approach, we evaluated key points throughout the organization that had a direct impact on caring for the behavioral health of patients and implemented strategies to address those areas,” said Brock.
The initiative centered on improving patient access to care; assessment of patients experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviors; staff, patient, and community education; and overall organizational functions related to the care of behavioral health patients.
Burton says that this project addresses current concerns and trends nationally as well as true significance in the local community. “We have been closely monitoring the impact the project has had in terms of patient care and outcomes and our statistics closely match the national suicidal ideation rates.”
“Placing a spotlight on mental and behavioral health has allowed us to recognize that suicide and suicidal ideation is a real issue not just nationally, but also in our hometown,” said Burton. “We have seen positive suicide screens from pre-teens to those in their eighties. Just by asking a few questions, that before, we thought were too personal, our staff have embraced suicide screening as an essential tool to treat and support all of our patients.”
“The KHA Quality Award is not easily obtained,” said Stephen A. Estes, president and CEO. “That we’ve won it so often over the years speaks to the consistent focus of our physicians and staff on delivering the best possible care. We are proud of the work we have done over the last year to improve access to behavioral health resources in our community.”
One of the most important steps the organization took to improve this access was to bring on a full-time psychiatrist to the team. Dr. Kelsey Ladd joined the physician team at Rockcastle Regional in August and has already begun to see patients.
Dr. Ladd says that we are at a turning point in our society that is beginning to value mental health as greatly as it does physical health. “I am privileged to contribute to this field at such an exciting time and with an organization that has placed such importance on this community’s access to behavioral health services.”
The award is presented to honor hospital leadership and innovation in quality, safety and commitment in patient care. It is also meant as a way to inspire other healthcare organizations to use the winning hospitals’ programs as examples of how to improve their own quality and patient safety efforts.
Before this year, Rockcastle Regional won the KHA Quality Award in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, and 2018.
To learn more about the KHA Quality Award, visit www.kyha.com/patient-safety-quality.