In early 2019, Sanford Health and the Good Samaritan Society announced the approval of a merger that would involve 26 states and more than 50,000 employees.
It was the start of an ongoing process. At its core, it was a way to make each entity stronger, something that has been confirmed in the more than three years since then thanks to a sustained and distinctive spirit of collaboration.
Nowhere has this team culture been more prominent — or more necessary — than with nursing staff. It is a meshing of systems on a grand scale that is centered on individual care. Patient by patient, resident by resident, they make it work.
‘Everyone knows everyone’
“Though our footprint is large, we still have a constant community feel,” said Erica DeBoer, chief nursing officer at Sanford Health. “Everyone knows everyone. We’re taking care of our family, friends and community members every day.”
It has been a huge undertaking. Included are 47 medical centers, 224 clinics, more than 200 senior living locations, nearly 2,800 physicians and advanced practice providers and nearly 10,000 nurses.
A common purpose has fueled the collective nursing effort by starting with the patients and residents. It includes giving nurses at the front lines a voice in refining care. This is accomplished through our shared governance model and provoking an environment where innovation is a priority.
“Our nurses have been using their voice to impact change in their daily work,” said Rochelle Rindels, the Good Samaritan Society vice president of nursing and clinical services. “We’ve done a lot of work around optimization of our nursing documentation. As we work through that, we’re able to allow our nurses more time to be present with the residents and clients that we’re serving.”
Hospital nursing to nursing homes
This shared vision involves shared patients. When a Good Samaritan Society resident needs a primary care physician, Sanford is there. If it’s a situation where a person has to be admitted to the acute care setting, it is an opportunity for Sanford and the Good Samaritan Society to become one community in caring for that individual.
“Because we have embedded resources from the Good Samaritan Society in our acute care setting, they help make sure we are planning effectively for transitions of care needs,” DeBoer said. “Similarly, when a patient leaves our hospital setting and transitions back to a skilled facility or utilizes home health or hospice service options, it’s an example of a transition of care and how Sanford and the Good Samaritan Society collaborate to make the experience seamless.”
Communication during transitions from one care setting to another is a critical. Sanford and Good Samaritan Society have developed an engine to digitally transmit information between electronic medical records.
It is what is called “interoperability.” It is the exchange of the most critical information to make sure patient and resident care is maintained during the transfer between care settings.
Nurses have a voice
With Sanford and the Good Samaritan Society also addressing staffing challenges, emphasis on innovation will continue to be crucial.
“Over the past year we have really worked toward a sense of community with our nurses,” Rindels said. “I see that through our shared governance structure, where nurses from across the Society come together and hold discussions and make decisions about processes, documentation, workflows and other standard work that we want to see implemented throughout the organization.”
Much of what makes nursing more effective within Sanford and the Good Samaritan Society also make it an enticing career choice.
“We have an incredible culture of nursing,” DeBoer said. “It’s about innovation. It’s about discovery. It’s about allowing that voice of nursing to be at the forefront. Our shared governance structure stretches across our entire Sanford nursing community, including the Good Samaritan Society as well as in our ambulatory and acute care settings where our front-line teams’ brilliance can be shared in order to help us solve the challenges we are navigating.”
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