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Risk Management Staff Help Deliver Safe and Trusted Healthcare.

Written by Melissa Debacker, MSN, RN, CPHQ, HACP on in LVMC News

This month, we celebrate Healthcare Risk Management, and as the department responsible for that role at Lompoc Valley Medical Center (LVMC), I’d like to inform you about the work healthcare risk management professionals do to help their organizations eliminate preventable, serious safety events.

This month, we celebrate Healthcare Risk Management, and as the department responsible for that role at Lompoc Valley Medical Center (LVMC), I’d like to inform you about the work healthcare risk management professionals do to help their organizations eliminate preventable, serious safety events.

HRM Week is the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management’s annual effort to raise awareness in the public about the critical role of risk management and patient safety professionals.

Although risk managers work across a wide variety of healthcare organizations, you can find these common attributes among us:

  • We are strategic, practical and see the big picture. We are the go-to professionals in a crisis. We communicate with patients’ families; interact with physicians and clinical staff; educate medical staff, board members and senior leadership.
  • We are committed to patient safety through identifying and eliminating risks that could lead to serious, preventable safety events.
  • We bring expertise to risk prevention and adverse event management.
  • We protect the patient and our organization’s balance sheet and reputation through proactive thinking and response management.
  • We play an active role in a healthcare organization’s clinical, risk financing, regulatory and business issues.

At LVMC, we work to identify and prevent patient safety risks. As the department leader, it’s my role to promote effective communication at all levels of my organization including healthcare providers, patients, families and the community. I work with an extraordinary, experienced multidisciplinary team who shares the same passion and commitment to patients and the organization. Our common vision is to work alongside staff, physicians and leadership in providing a high standard of care to every patient -- every time.

At LVMC, specific patient safety projects we have implemented organization-wide include “TeamSTEPPS,” a nationally recognized program for improving communication for the purpose of bettering patient safety. The acronym, Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety, has the key principles of Team Structure, Communication, Leadership, Situation Monitoring and Mutual Support.

Several of our Departments also participate in unit-specific “Quest for ZERO” (or zero patient harm) and have received recognition for their achievement in the areas of patient safety. Our Patient Family Advisory Committee recently completed a project to display the safety awards received by LVMC in the front lobby of the acute hospital. These awards demonstrate to the community our commitment to them to continually strive to achieve high standards in patient care and safety.

We are also very excited to be in our second year of participation with BETA Healthcare Group on a multi-year journey called BETA HEART, or Healing, Empathy, Accountability, Resolution and Trust.

This is a multi-domain program that is patient and family centered and helps organizations create a reliable, sustainable and transparent culture of safety. Participants are required to attend training for staff in areas of Just Culture, Safety Culture and Care for the Caregiver as just a few examples.

The role of risk managers is diverse: what we do includes risk financing; event and incident management; clinical, financial, legal and general business aspects; the psychological and human factors of healthcare; statistical analysis; insurance and claims management. However, our job descriptions are unique to the organizations in which we are employed.

At LVMC, you can be assured that our Risk Management team works diligently to identify risks, to prevent serious safety events from happening. We communicate with patients’ families a nd interact with physicians and nurses, all with the goal of saving lives and mitigating risks.

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Author: Melissa Debacker, MSN, RN, CPHQ, HACP, Chief Quality Assurance Officer

Melissa DeBacker has been a registered nurse for more than 30 years and has worked at LVMC for 25 years. She became Director of Quality/Risk Management/Infection Prevention in April 2013 and was promoted to Chief of the department in 2018. A Lompoc native, she began her career in healthcare as a Certified Nursing Assistant in 1981.

Learn more about Melissa