Benton hospital’s care rated among the best

By Wayne Bryan Published July 17, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Carla Robertson, from left, CFO/COO; Debbie Burrow, chief nursing officer; and Bob Trautman, CEO, all of Saline Memorial Hospital, along with a group of hospital employees, are shown with the Patient Safety Excellence Award the hospital received.

People go to the hospital to get better, but it’s an old saying that sometimes the treatment is worse than the cure.

Future patients of Saline Memorial Hospital will be glad to hear that the medical center in Benton has been named among the top 5 percent of hospitals in the nation for its record of safeguarding patients from serious or preventable complications while receiving treatment.

Bob Trautman, CEO of Saline Memorial, received the 2014 Patient Safety Excellence Award from Healthgrades, a leading health care ranking organization used across the country by consumers to select doctors, dentists and hospitals.

“We are one of only three hospitals in the state to receive this award,” he said during a ceremony at the hospital on July 9. “Of those three, we are the sole [hospital care] provider for the community. It goes along with having received the Governor’s Quality Award for six years in a row.”

The award from Healthgrades compared hospitals, including Saline Memorial, in three major patient-safety categories. The report said patients treated in the top 5 percent of hospitals were 73 percent less likely to acquire pressure sores or bed sores than those ranked in the bottom 5 percent. The Benton hospital and the other top-ranked hospitals were also 72 percent less likely to have patients who fractured their hips from a fall while they recovered from surgery, compared to the lowest-ranked hospitals.

Perhaps the most important ranking showed that patients at Saline Memorial are 67 percent less likely to contract bloodstream infections related to catheter use, compared to the hospitals ranked in the bottom 5 percent.

Catheter-related infections acquired while in a hospital hit about a half-million patients in America each year, according to an article in The Art and Science of Infusion Nursing. The report states that the infections are a serious cause of mortality in the United States, and treatment for the infections can add tens of thousands of dollars in hospital bills.

“Patient safety doesn’t have a beginning or an end,” said Debbie Burrow, chief nursing officer at Saline Memorial. “It’s a continuous process. It’s everybody’s responsibility to maintain a safe environment for our patients. I’m proud of our team and the level of care provided by our hospital.”

Barrow, who started working as a nurse at Saline Memorial in 1980 and now serves as CNO, said the quality of care provided by the hospital is enhanced by staff members living in the same community as their patients.

“We see the patients out in the community,” she said. “They are our friends and our relatives. The people in Saline County think of this as their hospital.”

She said that many of the 500 full- and part-time nurses live in the community and have been with the hospital for a long time.

“That builds the basis for a deep commitment to the hospital, the patients and the community,” Barrow said.

Several supporters and patients of Saline Memorial attended the ceremony, including Donna Bron. She said she has been in the hospital many times over the past 13 months for treatment of some chronic problems. She and her husband even moved to Benton to be closer to the hospital.

“This place is perfect if you are trying to get healthy,” Bron said. “I would rate this place No. 1. If you need something, you get it in a hurry.”

Donna’s husband, Bob, said he quickly learned his way around the hospital and has been impressed by the staff and volunteers who remember him from past visits.

County Judge Lanny Fite presented the award to Trautman during the ceremony.

“I have been a patient here, and I have always been cared for beautifully,” Fite said, then laughing. “I will tell you, I didn’t like physical therapy. I was glad I had it, but I didn’t like it during my treatments.”

Trautman said that during recent years, Saline Memorial has implemented several new initiatives to enhance patient safety.

In 2011, the hospital implemented a Patient/Family Rapid Response.

“If a family member or patient feels something isn’t quite right about their health,” Trautman said, “they can activate the rapid-response team, made up of an ICU nurse, a respiratory therapist and a physician, that immediately respond to the bedside and assess the situation.”

The management of Saline Memorial make rounds to talk with patients.

“We are permitted to go see patients that were admitted the day before, and we ask how they are doing,” Rebecca Jones, marketing director for Saline Memorial said in a 2013 interview. “Having management make the rounds of the patients keeps us thinking about the patients and the care they receive.”

And all nursing shift changes are done in the patients’ rooms for continuity of care.

“This provides an opportunity for patients to be involved in their plan of care,” Trautman said. “It allows the patient or the nurses to address any safety concerns before the new nurse takes over.”

Trautman said the award was earned by the entire staff of the hospital.

“This is a team effort,” he said. “We can provide as much quality care as a larger hospital anywhere else, and in Saline Memorial, [patients] can receive their care close to home.”

Staff Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or

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