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Launched in 2014 by journalist Sean Baker, Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

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Better health outcomes: For OMC nurses, it starts with improving the process

Better health outcomes: For OMC nurses, it starts with improving the process

When you walk into your doctor’s office for a checkup, or an emergency room with an injury, you can expect to be greeted by nurses, doctors and administrative staff equipped with the knowledge and tools to provide you the highest quality care. 

Who you probably won’t see, though, is the team of professionals working diligently behind the scenes to help make your care process as successful as possible. At Olmsted Medical Center, quality and safety metrics are measured daily, ensuring your care team is using practices grounded in evidence to deliver the best possible outcomes.

Kasey Trageser and Jessica Hageman, both registered nurses, are Quality Improvement Specialists at OMC. Their job, as they describe it, is to help their colleagues in different areas find ways to improve efficiencies and strengthen their practices.

“Process improvement is a way to proactively initiate change and to enhance a process within the organization,” says Kasey, now in her 11th year at OMC.  “We try to fix things on the backside so the patient has the best outcome possible.”

Jessica adds, “Sometimes when you think of health care, you’re thinking about being out in the clinic or being in the hospital and taking care of a patient. But there’s a lot of work that happens behind the scenes to make that work efficiently.”

Because both Jessica and Kasey come from nursing backgrounds, they try to spend as much time as possible out on the floor to best understand the needs of the medical staff. 

“Having that nursing background is key, because it’s easy for us to go up to the floors or clinical units,” says Jessica, who previously worked in OMC’s medical surgical unit. “You learn more once you’re out there, kind of elbow to elbow with staff, to see what’s going on; to see what’s working and what’s not.”

Part of their approach is developing care packages that outline the best practices and protocols for specific diagnoses, such as asthma or diabetes. The packages are meant to provide physicians and nurses with the tools they need to most effectively treat patients. 

Ultimately, the goal is always to improve the health of patients.

“The healthier our patients are on the preventive side, it helps keep them out of the [emergency room] and the hospital,” says Kasey. 

But OMC recognizes it can’t do it alone. Jessica serves on the Transitions of Care group, which works collaboratively with community partners, including nursing homes and public health agencies, to strengthen points of transition in the care process.

“There’s tons of room for error within that transition,” explains Jessica. “So this work group really looks at: How we can we make sure a patient understands their discharge [plan]? And how do we keep them from coming back into the hospital as a readmission? What are the resources in the community for the patients?”

This article is part of a series sponsored by Olmsted Medical Center.

Photography by William Forsman

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