Mary Shepler, RN, BSN, MA, NEA-BC
Chief Nursing Officer
Our mission is to provide you with exceptional clinical outcomes, and that can't be achieved without the safest environment.
At EvergreenHealth, safety is everyone’s responsibility and it's a crucial part of our culture. We call it our Community of Safety – and it lives everywhere, from the CEO’s office to every patient room.
We are proud to be recognized by The Leapfrog Group with an "A" grade for patient safety, along with our recognition as a Top General Hospital for quality and safety - the only hospital in Washington state.
As health care professionals, we are trained and expected to be experts and near-perfect in delivering safe care. Yet we also know that we are imperfect as human beings – which is why at EvergreenHealth we rely upon tools like teamwork, systems and standard processes to ensure safety.
While perfect people are impossible, perfect systems are possible. The pursuit of perfection in safety is a journey, and below are some of the ways we pursue it to ensure our culture is developing absolute perfection.
The journey to absolute safety is both urgent and ongoing. We’re making the journey together as a team with our patients.
Creating our Community of Safety
Safety is one of the ways in which we live our values - compassion, respect, excellence, collaboration and accountability. Together, regardless of our role in the organization or the department at EvergreenHealth, we’ll continuously reinvigorate our efforts and personal commitment to safety.
EvergreenHealth leads the region in reducing hospital readmissions and is the only Washington hospital to avoid Medicare penalties due to readmissions for four consecutive years.
Decreasing preventable hospital-acquired conditions
EvergreenHealth has been recognized with the Washington State Hospital Association’s “Achieving Best Care” award for its efforts in reducing patient harm in key areas identified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Weekly event report
We publish a Weekly Safety Event Report for all staff, in order to share our work and progress on our journey to absolute safety. This brings transparency to the process so that we can identify unsafe conditions and work together to make them safe.
SafeLinQ report system
Each employee, regardless of their job, has an integral role in identifying and reporting safety issues to keep EvergreenHealth absolutely safe.
The SafeLinQ report system is where staff, physicians and volunteers can submit a report – a safety event, a near miss or an unsafe condition. Our Patient Safety Officer collects the reports and alerts the appropriate people, who investigate and share findings with staff.
We publish the stories and solutions to our staff and encourage them to use SafeLinq often, to help keep our patients and each other absolutely safe.
Patient safety alerts
When errors and near misses happen, we publish a Patient Safety Alert to help staff learn from an error and to prevent its happening again. Whether or not a staff member provides clinical care, reading Safety Alerts and submitting safety reports are part of their role in our community of safety.
We subscribe to the “Just Culture” philosophy, which seeks to encourage people to self-identify when harm and risk has occurred. It avoids punishing human error, but instead looks at the systems that support, and back up, human action to avoid mistakes in the first place.
Medication errors are one of the leading causes of harm and accidental death in hospitals each year. At EvergreenHealth, we have several systems to keep you safe from medication errors. Read more about medication safety...
Patient and family involvement
Patients and family members play an important role in our Community of Safety. We welcome you to take an active role in your safe care. That includes asking staff and visitors about hand hygiene and engaging in our rapid response process if needed.
How we practice safety at EvergreenHealth
We asked employees to provide examples of how they practice patient safety in their day-to-day jobs:
“Patient safety is at the forefront of every good care provider’s mind. It doesn’t matter if you are documenting medications, answering a patient’s questions or simply making sure the walkways are clear of tripping hazards: Every action or inaction contributes to safety for our patients and ourselves!”
“Many of my surgical patients are fall risks. We have them wear yellow safety slippers and place a yellow tag on their charts so that everyone involved in their care is aware of that risk.”
“As a tech, I support our patients with a helping hand, ensuring safety alarms are set and clearly passing on safety risks to staff on the next shift.”
“As an outpatient social worker who assists many clients with behavioral health issues, I confirm that they have access to social support—including contact information for their local Crisis Line. When working with teens, I make sure they have this number programmed into their phones.”
“In Home Health, we use multiple identifiers to make sure we've got the correct patient, with tons of hand hygiene all the time. I use clean bag technique for all my gear and use alcohol and stronger wipes as needed on my gear before returning it to my bag, allowing for adequate dwell time.”
When administering medications, I always practice the 5 Rights: the right patient, the right drug, the right dose, the right route and the right time.”
“I use SafeLinq to report any “unsafe issues and/or concerns” affecting patients, patients’ family, staff or anyone in the clinic or on campus.”
“I am always aware of my surroundings when at work. When I see something wet on the floor, I clean it up immediately. If there is trash on the ground, I pick it up. If something is not working right, I know who I need to contact in order to report any maintenance needs.”
“Patient safety isn’t just about medical safety, but also the safety of their identity, their account and their medical records.”
“I consistently use a gait belt when doing gait training with patients who are at risk of falling, and I teach their families and caregivers to use gait belts too.”
“I keep the lobby clear of unused wheelchairs and other items that may impede access to exits, walkways, etc.”