Press Releases & Announcements

Hospitals Earn National Honors from Institute for Healthcare Improvement

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - Danbury, CT

Quality Efforts Improve Surgical Care and Nutrition Services

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) will showcase the quality improvement efforts of Danbury Hospital and New Milford Hospital at its 23rd Annual National Forum, December 4-7, in Orlando, Florida. While Danbury Hospital’s quality effort identified ways to reduce the risk of complications in surgical patients, New Milford Hospital’s effort enhanced the quality of food and patient satisfaction with the dining experience. Both achievements will be clinical poster presentations at the IHI event, which is expected to draw 6,000 health professionals from around the world.

Dawn Myles, Vice President of Quality and Patient Safety and Chief Quality Officer for Western Connecticut Health Network, said, “Our teams at Danbury Hospital and New Milford Hospital continuously look for ways to improve every patient’s experience. They strive to uphold quality outcomes, safety, and overall satisfaction. Through engaging with our patients and their families and supporting our staff in the development and implementation of their many ideas, we are constantly improving the care and service we provide. This selection by the IHI underscores the recognition that these projects led to measurable and significant change for those we serve.”

Surgery Patients Stay Safe and Warm

Danbury Hospital’s poster presentation, “Decreasing Inadvertent Perioperative Hypothermia (IPH),” focused on preventing hypothermia, a common issue for some surgical patients during their hospital stay. Utilizing the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program, Danbury Hospital identified a series of risk factors and “actively warmed” patients before, during and after surgery through the use of a portable device that delivers forced-air heat. As a result, more patients were able to maintain a normal body temperature throughout their surgical visit at the hospital for a safer, more comfortable experience. According to principal investigator Anita Volpe, DNP, APRN, FNP, the project helped to implement an evidence-based practice to successfully reduce or eliminate the occurrence of IPH and improve patient surgical outcomes and experience.

“The collaboration of many disciplines, including the anesthesia providers, perioperative nursing staff and surgeons, was essential to ensuring what is now a routine practice within our surgical services department to benefit our patients,” Volpe said.

Good Food Gets Even Better

Since late 2006, New Milford Hospital has practiced what it preaches when it comes to healthy food. The creation of Plow to Plate™ launched a hospital-led coalition of physicians, chefs, farmers, parents, dietitians, public officials, teachers and community members to promote healthy foods in the lives of residents of northwest Connecticut. The hospital subsequently hired Sustainable Food Systems to improve its food policies and practices, and signed Health Care Without Harm’s “Healthy Food Pledge,” committing to develop a sustainable food system and education program. This early groundwork led to the selection of Unidine Corporation in 2008 to deliver a fully integrated food service program at the hospital.

New Milford’s poster presentation, “Building a Healthy Patient Dining Experience,” highlights the hospital’s successful collaboration with Unidine to implement a healthful, sustainable food system with exceptional customer service to positively impact patient satisfaction scores. Dining Services Manager Kerry Gold said that efforts within the hospital during 2008-2011 helped its national inpatient satisfaction rankings for “overall meals” soar from the 51st to the 93rd percentile, and for “quality of food” from the 38th percentile to the 95th percentile.

“We are working to lead by example and have a positive impact on the health and well-being of our community. As a result of these improvements, hospitalized patients have the pleasure of dining well and the hospital café is busier, welcoming more people than ever from the community for lunch and dinner,” said Deborah Weymouth, Executive Director and Senior Vice President, New Milford Hospital.

In 2011, the Hospital remodeled its kitchen and dining café to improve efficiency and brighten the dining area for staff and visitors. Following additional training in advanced customer service and food production, the food and nutrition team launched a new menu using fresh, local ingredients whenever possible, created a patient guide to explain the sources of ingredients and their nutritional value, and made after-hours meals and snacks available. They also partnered with local farms to obtain produce, dairy and meats, and planted a culinary herb garden to equip the kitchen with fresh produce, herbs, spices and garnishes.

In addition to embarking on a “room service” model to visit patients and obtain their meal selections, the team also initiated “meal rounds” to assess patient preferences and address issues during meal service. At the bedside, the team also streamlined therapeutic diet orders to eliminate unnecessary restrictions and meet patient needs. After completing an outpatient survey for patients receiving cancer treatment, the team felt they better understood patient preferences and needs, offering a food cart and more palatable lunch selections for patients receiving cancer treatments.

“We can offer a more personal approach that makes a huge difference to our patients, while nourishing them with foods that sustain their health,” Weymouth said.

About Western Connecticut Health Network

Western Connecticut Health Network is a patient-centered health care organization established in 2010 by two nationally recognized hospitals, Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital and their affiliated organizations, to provide the highest level of care to patients throughout Western Connecticut and adjacent New York. In addition to the two hospitals, other network affiliates include:

  • An integrated physician practice with primary and specialty care expertise
  • An agency for home care and community health services
  • A full-service retail pharmacy located at Danbury Hospital
  • Emergency medical services
  • An occupational wellness and medicine program, providing services for business and industry

Western Connecticut Health Network has centers of excellence in Women’s, neonatal, cardiovascular and cancer services; weight loss and orthopedic surgery; digestive disorders and radiology and diagnostic imaging. It also offers specialized programs for sleep disorders and asthma management.  Both hospitals also maintain active clinical research programs, offering clinical trials for patients with cancer and other health concerns.

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About Danbury Hospital

Danbury Hospital is a 371-bed regional medical center and university teaching hospital associated with the University of Vermont College of Medicine, the Yale University School of Medicine, the Connecticut School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center.  The hospital is nationally recognized as a tertiary health care center with an innovative high-tech, high-touch environment and is also a member of the Planetree organization. In addition to offering the latest robotic and minimally invasive surgical and imaging technology, it was the first hospital in Connecticut to adopt electronic health records systems. It offers a Level II Trauma Center and Level IIIb Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Medical staff members are board-certified in their specialties, and most serve as faculty members of the nation’s finest university medical centers offering a higher level of experience. 

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About New Milford Hospital

New Milford Hospital is a Planetree organization dedicated to patient-centered care that nurtures every patient's body, mind and spirit.  The Hospital has an extraordinary tradition of warm and caring personal attention backed by top-notch physicians, world-class technology and the newest, most advanced diagnostic and treatment options available. Your healthcare team of highly trained physicians, nurses, technicians and administrators is determined and committed to improving the health and quality of life of those we serve.

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