St. Clair Hospital Named a 2020 Recipient HAP’s Excellence in Patient Safety Recognition

MT. LEBANON, Pa. – St. Clair Hospital has been honored as part of the inaugural class of The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania’s (HAP) Excellence in Patient Safety Recognition program.

HAP launched the Excellence in Patient Safety program in 2018 to recognize Pennsylvania’s top-performing hospitals that have demonstrated low rates of health care-associated infections.

The program utilizes data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Healthcare Safety Network. The program identifies and recognizes those member hospitals that perform better than the mean standardized infection ratio in three key measures: central line-associated bloodstream infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, and clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections. This year, 21 hospitals were recognized for this achievement.

The recognition is open to all Pennsylvania hospitals. A full list of winners can be found at haponline.org.

Earlier this month, The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit health care ratings organization, awarded St. Clair an “A” for its commitment to keeping patients safe and meeting the highest safety standards in the U.S. St. Clair’s A grade is the Hospital’s 17th consecutive A, placing St. Clair amongst the top hospitals in the country and the leader in the region for patient safety.

Also this year, St. Clair was ranked as a 100 Top Hospital by IBM Watson Health in its 28th annual empirical evaluation of America’s hospitals. IBM Watson Health evaluates all acute care hospitals in the U.S., assessing their patient safety, patient satisfaction, quality of care and efficiency of operations.

St. Clair Hospital Leads The Region With Its 17th Consecutive ‘A’ Hospital Safety Grade From The Leapfrog Group

The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit health care ratings organization, has released new Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades for Fall 2020, awarding St. Clair Hospital an “A” for its commitment to keeping patients safe and meeting the highest safety standards in the U.S.  St. Clair Hospital’s A grade is the Hospital’s 17th consecutive A, placing St. Clair amongst the top hospitals in the country and the leader in the region for patient safety. St. Clair is one of only 41 hospitals across the country with 17 consecutive As and the only hospital in Pennsylvania with that achievement. The Safety Grade assigns letter grades of A, B, C, D and F to hospitals nationwide based on their performance in preventing medical errors, injuries, accidents, infections and other harms.

Developed under the guidance of a Blue Ribbon National Expert Panel, the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade uses up to 27 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to assign A, B, C, D and F grades to more than 2,600 U.S. hospitals twice per year. It is calculated by top patient safety experts, peer-reviewed, fully transparent and free to the public.

Urologists with Center for Urologic Care Join St. Clair Medical Services

Giving patients enhanced access to an integrated model of expert urologic care

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Two of the region’s top urologic practices will come together when the four urologists with Center for Urologic Care join St. Clair Medical Services, effective January 1, 2021. This union offers patients more advanced urologic services and greater access to board-certified urologists.

St. Clair Medical Services is the employed physician organization of St. Clair Health Corporation and serves the primary, specialty, and hospital-based needs of patients throughout the communities served by St. Clair Hospital.

The new relationship between the urologists from Center for Urologic Care and St. Clair Medical Services offers a more integrated model of care that directly benefits patients with sophisticated information technology, plus enhanced coordination of care between the urologists, St. Clair’s outpatient centers, and the Hospital. Moreover, patients will have access to an interdisciplinary team of clinicians – five exceptionally well-qualified and experienced urologic surgeons.

In addition to the four urologists of Center for Urologic Care – Jay A. Lutins, M.D.; Arthur D. Thomas, M.D.; David O. Hepps, M.D.; and Shailen S. Sehgal, M.D. – patients will also have access to board-certified urologist Kevin P. Bordeau, M.D., of St. Clair Medical Services.

Patients may call 412.572.6194 for appointments or with questions.

‘It’s Gonna Try To Knock You Out’: Dormont Man Shares Story Of Survival After Battling Coronavirus

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Marine, retired postal worker and former boxing club director Michael Bayens thought he was invincible.

“If if hits you, it ain’t gonna tap you, it’s gonna try to knock you out,” he says.

He was in the ICU and needed a ventilator, and now he’s sharing his story of survival.

“I never figured I would get it,” he says.

His symptoms at the end of June were mild at first, and he didn’t think much of it.

“I kind of lost appetite, but I wasn’t feeling bad,” he says, “I had no fever. I didn’t have shortness of breath or anything.”

Then July 5, he played darts with buddies at the VFW.

“And when I was up there, I started getting lightheaded, kind of dizzy,” he says.

His wife made him go to the doctor, and his oxygen levels were low. He went by ambulance to the hospital, where he tested positive for coronavirus.

“The way his chest X-ray looked, I knew he was probably going to have to have the ventilator the next day or so, but I wanted to give him every chance not to have it,” says St. Clair Hospital critical care specialist Dr. Gregory Fino. “The next day is when the bottom kind of fell out.”

The doctors put him on a breathing machine, and he was in the ICU for a week.

“When I was on the ventilator, I would wake up with these hallucinations and things,” Michael recalls. “It was like being in a horror film. I could see flames. I could see things flying around me. It scared me.”

Dr. Fino explains Michael’s treatment.

“He received dexamethasone, a steroid, the antiviral drug, Remdesivir, and he also had convalescent plasma,” Dr. Fino says. “The Decadron, we’ve been using that for decades. We’ll have enough of that. Remdesivir is a scarce drug.”

“I had my kidneys shut down, liver shut down. The way my body was shutting down, I was near death,” says Michael.

But he got off the ventilator, and went home five days later.

Dexamethasone, or Decadron, is a steroid and a powerful anti-inflammatory medicine. It wasn’t used as much early on in the pandemic. But in this case, his doctor believes it made the difference.

“I think everything we gave him medication-wise was helpful. I am most impressed with Decadron,” says Dr. Fino.

Once Michael gets off his blood thinner, he will donate convalescent plasma.

“If it can help one person, I’m all for it,” he says.

He has left-sided weakness and a tremor — new since his illness. The doctors tell him this is temporary.

“I don’t know what the after effects are going to be,” Michael says, “This stuff is more vicious than what people think.”

He expects a long road to full recovery.

Link:  https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/08/11/dormont-coronavirus-survivor/

How smaller hospitals around the region are handling the crush of COVID-19 patients

Two smaller hospitals in our region, in Butler and Clarion, reported they are out of ICU beds as COVID-19 cases continue to surge. It’s a problem other small facilities are also looking to work through.

“We have cut back on some of our elective admissions that would require hospital beds, particularly those that would require monitored beds of some sort, in order to create capacity,” said Excela Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Carol Fox.

Around 40% of adults being admitted to Excela hospitals in Westmoreland County have COVID-19. Smaller hospitals like Excela and Washington Health System in Washington County, Heritage Valley in Beaver and Allegheny counties and St. Clair Hospital in Mt. Lebanon are being watched closely for capacity issues.

Heritage Valley told Channel 11 the facility is creating additional COVID-19-specific units to deal with increased demand. A spokesperson for St. Clair said the hospital made preparations for a surge in cases earlier in the fall and patient care has not yet been impacted.

Staffing shortages are another issue many health-care companies are dealing with.

“When you look at what the state defines as having some critical staffing needs, we’re in that situation and we reported that to the state,” Fox said.

In our area, there are plans in place to deal with COVID-19 patients regionally with major players UPMC and AHN along with the smaller hospitals. The idea is to handle the situation as a group and potentially lessen the impact so one hospital does not get overwhelmed.

Link:  https://www.wpxi.com/news/top-stories/how-smaller-hospitals-around-region-are-handling-crush-covid-19-patients/NRNJ2CNN5BF75A7JAJY7QG4VEU/

St. Clair Hospital Named A ‘Most Wired’ Hospital

St. Clair Hospital has been named a Level 9 Most Wired hospital in the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives’ 2020 Digital Health Most Wired Survey. A Level 9 designation highlights hospitals that have deployed technologies and strategies (e.g., population health/cost-of-care analytics, HIEs/integration engines, and patient portals) to help them analyze their data and are achieving meaningful clinical and efficiency outcomes.

The mission of the CHIME Digital Health Most Wired program is to elevate the health and care of communities around the world by encouraging the optimal use of information technology. The program does this by conducting an annual survey to identify, recognize, and certify the adoption, implementation, and use of information technology by health care provider organizations. The results are intended to improve patient safety and outcomes by driving change in the health care IT industry.

“We are once again honored to receive CHIME’s Digital Health Most Wired award,” said Richard Schaeffer, Vice President and Chief Information Officer at St. Clair. “At St. Clair, we’ve had a long-standing strategic commitment to the use of systems and technology to not only deliver safe, high quality care, but to additionally promote wellness through the use of patient engagement tools.”

Link:  https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/in-brief-st-clair-hospital-recognized-divorce-workshop-and-more-in-the-south-hills/

Doctors from Mayo Clinic, St. Clair Hospital address multiple facets of COVID-19

For at least three-quarters of a century, nothing has dominated the lives of Americans as pervasively as the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Most know it better as COVID-19, and hear about it constantly. But the information tends to come at at a dizzying pace, with facts often mixing with opinion, conjecture and downright falsehoods.

For those confused over the vast amount of information surrounding the virus, perhaps professionals who have spent the past several months fighting the coronavirus firsthand can make matters clearer.

A recent virtual presentation, dubbed “The Frontline. Online,” featured doctors from the Mayo Clinic and one of its care network members, St. Clair Hospital in Mt. Lebanon and Scott Township, speaking about various facets of COVID-19 and answered questions from the public that had been submitted beforehand.

Transmission and safety

One of the queries addressed a contentious point head-on.

“Does wearing a mask really defend against getting the virus?”

Dr. Stephen Colodny, St. Clair’s chief of infectious disease, said COVID-19 primarily is transmitted from person to person, with “the most efficient method” being the spread of droplets that are expelled by activities such as breathing or talking, and in larger amounts, sneezing, coughing or singing.

“These droplets are fairly heavy, and they generally tend to fall to the ground within about six feet, and hence that’s our recommendation for social distancing,” he said.

In that context, covering the face adds a measure of protection, likely for everyone involved.

“There is starting to be some body of evidence that suggests that wearing a mask may prevent you from getting the virus from others, or in the event that you do become infected that you may have a less severe clinical illness,” Colodny said.

“So I still urge people to wear masks when they’re within six feet of others, particularly indoors.”

He confirmed transmission also is possible through contact with contaminated surfaces.

“It’s been shown in the lab that the virus can survive on various surfaces for some periods of time, but in general, they don’t survive for a really long period of time,” he said. “Things like ultraviolet light, heat or humidity may kill virus particles, and most importantly, 60% or greater alcohol kills viruses, usually within a minute.”

To be on the safe side, he advises proper hygiene.

“If you wash your hands frequently, especially after you’ve touched common surfaces – think of things such as doorknobs or light switches – it will help in preventing you from self-contaminating,” he said.

Staying safe during the pandemic extends to considerations beyond precautions against COVID-19, according to Dr. John Sullivan, senior vice president and chief medical officer at St. Clair.

The hospital continues to follow protocols adopted by the Mayo Clinic, from enhanced cleaning to taking temperatures of people entering the building, and has resumed elective procedures following their temporary suspension, with no viral transmissions observed.

“We are concerned, however, that the perceptions of risk in seeking care are still limiting how some people are accessing their routine care,” Sullivan said. “Early on, we even saw examples where people with symptoms of a stroke or heart attack delayed seeking their care. And as we all know, that can be very consequential. Delay in care in those settings, even by minutes and certainly by hours, can lead to worsened outcomes.”

A similar scenario applies to procedures such as colonoscopies and mammograms.

“In almost all cancer diagnoses, early detection is often associated with improved survival,” Sullivan said. “Some parts of the country have seen the decrease in breast cancer screening by almost 50%.”

And so his recommendation is to keep up with basic health maintenance.

“If you have any questions about this, contact your primary care physician to help guide the decisions,” he said. “Many of them are conducting visits via telemedicine to help you as a starting place.”

Treatment and vaccines

Since COVID-19 started wreaking havoc globally, more than 7.5 million cases had been confirmed in the United States as of Oct. 6, including 169,000-plus in Pennsylvania.

How patients are treated varies as the disease progresses, according to Dr. Stacey Rizza, Mayo Clinic executive medical director for international academic affairs. In the early stages, the common practice is to use antiviral medications in attempts to prevent the virus from replicating.

“Then after about a week, people either get better or they get what we call an immune response that’s overreactive,” Rizza said. “It’s essentially the person’s immune system reacting dramatically to the virus, itself. And that’s what causes people to become severely ill.”

At that point, she said, treatment tends toward “medications that block the immune system or change how the immune system is reacting to the virus.”

Overall, a major caveat is practically all of the drugs that could turn out to be effective in battling COVID-19 are in various stages of development and testing.

“Thus far, we really only have one therapeutic that has been proven to be efficacious in the appropriate randomized control trials, and that’s the antiviral medicine called Remdesivir,” Rizza said. It’s been reviewed by the FDA and given what we call emergency use authorization. We know that using it a little bit earlier, during that viral replication phase, seems to be where we see a lot of evidence that it works well.”

The use of steroids also has been the subject of study, although no control trials have been completed.

“But there is very strong evidence around them that keep showing that they do have some effect at protecting patients who are severely ill,” Rizza said.

“So they work more in that second phase, when the body’s immune system is overreacting and steroids are blocking that immune response.”

Perhaps of more interest to Americans in general is the progress of potential COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr. Andrew Badley, who chairs Mayo’s molecular medicine department, said testing is taking place on about 180 potential vaccines.

“What they’re intended to do is determine if it is safe, and if people who get the vaccine develop an immune response,” he said. “The hope is that the fact that you generate an immune response will translate into reducing the incidence of the disease or reducing the severity of the disease. But today, that is unknown.”

Prior to a vaccine’s approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, some people may want to consider participating in trials.

“At that point, it will be experimental, and you’ll either get the vaccine or a placebo, Badley said, advising those who opt in to, “talk to the investigators. Very much learn about the potential side effects. And then you, as an individual, have to make a cost-benefit decision as to, do the risks outweigh the benefits?”

Approval of a vaccine is unlikely to occur before mid-2021, Badley said.

“When we’re in that situation, much more will be known about the vaccine,” he said, “and so you’ll be able to have a much more detailed discussion with your healthcare provider.”

Families and children

COVID-19 has prompted numerous discussions between concerned parents and Dr. Ruth Christoforetti, a family medicine and primary care physician affiliated with St. Clair Hospital.

And as the summer progressed, a primary topic was education.

“It’s been very challenging to make decisions about sending children to school in person versus keeping them at home as virtual learners, and neither really seems like an ideal situation for the majority of our children and our families,” said Christoforetti, a mother of three. “I think it is very important to keep in mind that there is no right or wrong decision, and each family situation is unique.”

She acknowledged attending school in an environment where other people are present “does increase the risk of transmission.”

“If the school is following safety precautions – such as spacing desks apart, requiring students to wear masks and frequently wash their hands, making sure that there’s adequate ventilation in the school, maybe having the kids spend some time outdoors – those things will help to reduce the risk,” she said.

“It’s also important to think about the school’s plan for if or when there is a case of COVID-19 within the school, and how they would manage that in order to keep other students and teachers and staff safe.”

Colodny fielded a question about the safety of scholastic athletic events.

“Obviously, it depends on the sport and the proximity of the children to each other,” he said. “It depends upon whether they’re outdoors or indoors, and it depends on the risk to other family members.”

He gave a reminder the academic year is relatively new.

“I think that it’s too early to tell whether, in youth sports and high school sports, how much transmission there will be,” Colodny said. “But I would say that running cross country is a whole lot safer than wrestling.”

Christoforetti provided a reminder of COVID-19’s impact on mental health.

“It’s widely known that there are increased rates of depression and anxiety during times of crisis, and this pandemic has been no different,” she said. “In these challenging times with tremendous stress, it’s important that we be kind to each other. If we notice a loved one is struggling, perhaps from depression or anxiety, that we encourage them to reach out for support from family and friends, as well as to seek professional help when needed.”

By Harry Funk, Multimedia Reporter – The Almanac

Link:  https://thealmanac.net/news/doctors-from-mayo-clinic-st-clair-hospital-address-multiple-facets-of-covid-19/article_ce23d32e-0803-11eb-8436-1356a8746c15.htmlhttps://thealmanac.net/news/doctors-from-mayo-clinic-st-clair-hospital-address-multiple-facets-of-covid-19/article_ce23d32e-0803-11eb-8436-1356a8746c15.html

St. Clair Hospital Appoints Maxim D. Hammer, M.D., MBA as Chief of Neurology

MT. LEBANON, Pa. – St. Clair Hospital has appointed noted neurologist Maxim D. Hammer, M.D., MBA, as its new Chief of Neurology.

Dr. Hammer joins St. Clair from UPMC, where he held numerous titles, including Vice Chairman, Clinical Affairs, Department of Neurology; Clinical Director of Neurology; and Director of Stroke Services at UPMC Mercy Hospital, where he helped develop the Stroke Clinic. Dr. Hammer founded and directed the Neurosonology lab, which provides outpatient and inpatient services, using carotid duplex and transcranial ultrasonography.

Dr. Hammer earned his medical degree at Albany Medical College, Albany, N.Y., and completed his neurology residency at Cleveland Clinic, where he was elected chief resident. He also completed a Vascular Neurology Fellowship at UPMC. Dr. Hammer holds an executive healthcare master’s degree in business administration from the University of Pittsburgh Katz School of Business. He is an associate professor, Department of Neurology, at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Hammer is board-certified in neurology, as well as in vascular neurology.

“We are very pleased to welcome Dr. Hammer to St. Clair,” says John T. Sullivan, M.D., MBA, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at St. Clair. “He brings substantial clinical and programmatic expertise in the management of stroke patients. In terms of the impact on health and quality of life, stroke outcomes are arguably one of the most important for our region and  Dr. Hammer brings cutting-edge practices to our team.”

“Joining St. Clair,” says Dr. Hammer, “is an excellent opportunity for me to be part of a health system that is so supportive of neurology. I look forward to working with my colleagues at St. Clair to make an excellent program even better.”

Dr. Hammer practices with Southwestern PA Associates in Neurology, part of St. Clair Medical Services, and is seeing patients at St. Clair Hospital Outpatient Center – Peters Township. To contact Dr. Hammer, please call 412.942.6300.

St. Clair Hospital Named A ‘Most Wired’ Hospital

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – St. Clair Hospital has been named a Level 9 Most Wired hospital in the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives’ (CHIME) 2020 Digital Health Most Wired Survey. A Level 9 designation highlights hospitals that have deployed technologies and strategies (e.g., population health/cost-of-care analytics, HIEs/integration engines, and patient portals) to help them analyze their data and are achieving meaningful clinical and efficiency outcomes.

The mission of the CHIME Digital Health Most Wired program is to elevate the health and care of communities around the world by encouraging the optimal use of information technology (IT). The program does this by conducting an annual survey to identify, recognize, and certify the adoption, implementation, and use of information technology by health care provider organizations. The results are intended to improve patient safety and outcomes by driving change in the health care IT industry.

“We are once again honored to receive CHIME’s Digital Health Most Wired award,” said Richard Schaeffer, Vice President and Chief Information Officer at St. Clair. “At St. Clair, we’ve had a long-standing strategic commitment to the use of systems and technology to not only deliver safe, high quality care, but to additionally promote wellness through the use of patient engagement tools.”

Louis Civitarese, D.O., M.M.I., Chief Medical Information Officer at St. Clair, added: “St. Clair’s ability to consistently deliver high quality care is due in large part to the collegial environment among physicians, nurses, and staff to work together to continually improve systems and processes through the refinement of the best technologies available.”

A total of 30,135 organizations were represented in the 2020 Digital Health Most Wired program, which this year included four separate surveys. The surveys assessed the adoption, integration and impact of technologies in health care organizations at all stages of development, from early development to industry leading.

Health care organizations earning Levels 8-10 are being honored with awards. St. Clair’s Level 9 earned it a Performance Excellence Award. CHIME says organizations in Level 9 are leaders in health care technology who actively push the industry forward. These organizations, according to CHIME, are realizing meaningful outcomes, including improved quality of care, improved patient experience, reduced costs, and broader patient access to health care services. Some of the advanced technologies used to achieve these outcomes include telemedicine solutions, price-transparency and cost-analysis tools, access to data at the point of care, and tools to engage patients and their families throughout the care process.

Private labs see increase in wait times for Covid-19 testing results

Most Pittsburgh-region hospitals aren’t seeing an increased lag in Covid-19 test results, although an Allegheny County health official said an extended timeline for some results has occurred due to a crush of testing at the national level.

Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen brought up the lag Tuesday afternoon as the county and the rest of southwestern Pennsylvania see the highest case numbers so far in the pandemic. Another 230 cases were reported Tuesday and 1,449 cases since the beginning of July. There were 1,997 new test results overnight with an 11% positivity rate.

“For a while our tests were returning very quickly, usually within two or three days. I have heard about a lag in results recently,” Bogen said. “I think that’s because the national labs are overwhelmed with the new surge in cases.”

Two major test providers, Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, on Wednesday acknowledged increases in testing around the country has led to a longer-than-normal wait time for results. Quest said priority patients’ wait times are still one day but the average turnaround times for all others have gone from 3-5 days to 4-6 days recently. LabCorp said it could take 1-2 days longer for test results to come in.

“In recent weeks, we have seen a steady increase in demand for Covid-19 molecular testing, and we are doing everything we can to continue delivering results in a timely manner while continually increasing testing capacity,” a LabCorp spokeswoman said.

Neither UPMC nor Allegheny Health Network, the region’s two biggest players in health care, have reported any lag in test results. UPMC, which developed its own test and has deployed it across its system by the tens of thousands, generally gets results back within 24-48 hours, said UPMC spokesman Paul Wood.

AHN also has not seen a lag in testing, and most patients receive their results within 3-5 days. It administers about 300 tests per day across its testing sites and its mobile unit but doesn’t include inpatient tests.

“That number has increased notably since the first two weeks of June where we saw roughly 130 tests on average, per day,” said AHN spokeswoman Nikki Buccina.

St. Clair Hospital in Mt. Lebanon uses a combination of rapid-result tests in its own lab where the results come within the hour and its partnership with the Mayo Clinic for the bulk of its tests, said Dr. John Sullivan, St. Clair’s chief medical officer. There’s been no lag among St. Clair Hospital patients, but Sullivan said he’s heard in the community of some delays elsewhere.

The partnership with the Mayo Clinic has helped St. Clair maintain its testing turnaround times throughout the pandemic, said Meredith Borst, executive director of strategic initiatives at St. Clair.

“We definitely have seen an increase in the number of tests that have come through, but in our turnaround times, they pretty much are constant,” Borst said.

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