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C. McCollister "Mac" Evarts, M.D., senior vice president and vice provost for health affairs and Medical Center CEO, called the new wing "awesome." U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter said nurses deserved such a grand building. University President Joel Seligman said the opening of the new wing was a "triumph" for Ford, School of Nursing Dean Patricia Chiverton, and all those who supported the expansion campaign.
The new wing is part of an $8.1 million expansion and renovation project that will help the School of Nursing increase student enrollment substantially, boost technological capabilities and enhance research. The Ford wing adds 28,000-square-feet of space. It includes four spacious classrooms, an auditorium that can seat 170 people, a seminar room and atrium. The wing's wireless and smart classroom technology and video conferencing capability will facilitate student learning. Much of the first floor of Helen Wood Hall also was renovated as part of the project.
"The new wing means we can teach and train more nurses and more nurse leaders at the master's and doctoral level, which ultimately means better patient care," Chiverton said. "But it also means we will have more opportunities for unique programs and for taking business ideas to the marketplace."
Students will begin attending classes in the new wing on May 23.
The wing is named for Dean Emerita Loretta "Lee" Ford, internationally known for creating the profession of the Nurse Practitioner. Ford led the School from 1972 to 1986. Dedication day began with a symposium on the profession of Nurse Practitioner and Rochester's role in its development.
A banquet celebrating the new wing was held at Casa Larga Vineyards in the town of Perinton. At the banquet, the School presented its Health and Humanity Award to Johnson & Johnson Co. for its "Campaign for Nursing's Future," a national effort to attract more people into nursing and to develop more nursing educators.
Imagine a physician's office where patient charts, filing cabinets and the dozen or so office accessories that go along with keeping the chart organized like hole punchers and colored tabs are no longer. Think of the amount of space gained, trees saved and number of decreased deliveries from OfficeMax. All this and more is happening in the here and now, thanks to the roll-out of the Allscripts TouchWorks project, which is rapidly bringing the electronic health record to Medical Center outpatient practices.
What's driving the excitement? Ease of use and the fact that "most providers now feel they can't manage their practices without instant access to a common patient-centric record," said David A. Krusch, M.D., chief medical information officer for the Medical Center, and executive sponsor for the Allscripts implementation project.
Beyond the Electronic Health Record
Krusch emphasizes that Allscripts TouchWorks is as much about introducing an electronic chart to a practice as it is reengineering workflow to enhance office process efficiency.
"To simply call this an introduction of the electronic health record doesn't recognize the many positive ripple effects it has on the operations of an entire practice, and the many tools it brings to help improve patient care and safety," Krusch said.
Currently, when a patient calls to request a prescription, it sets into motion at least 10 specific actions - from pulling the chart, to calling in a prescription, to re-filing the chart – that involves both office staff and health care providers. With Allscripts, the process is streamlined and eliminates many opportunities for medical errors. When such a call comes into a practice with Allscripts, the receptionist pulls up the patient's electronic health record, accesses the known medication list and enters a prescription authorization request directly into a physician's computerized "task list."
When the physician checks the task list, the prescription request is hyperlinked to the patient's chart for easy retrieval and review. If the request is authorized as ordered (one or two clicks for the physician), the system automatically alerts the physician of any potential allergies, drug interactions or incorrect dosages. It also checks the prescription against the patient's drug formulary for tier compliance, and offers an alternative when appropriate. The system then faxes the request to the patient's preferred pharmacy and automatically records this information in the chart.
Prescription management is just one aspect of the Allscripts system. It also provides a way to efficiently manage and store all medical information related to patients through a scanner that electronically sorts and files all paper reports into appropriate categories. Physicians enter their patient encounters through a notes software system, which also helps them to identify proper billing categories for each visit. A disease management program can be turned on to help manage wellness check-ups or even follow-up visits, using evidenced-based best practices as its foundation.
Steve Judge, M.D., chief resident of Internal Medicine, who helps oversee the urgent care clinic located in the Ambulatory Care Facility, was amazed at the user-friendly aspect of the system.
"It took me no time to learn the system," Judge said. "If I saw a patient this morning, and referred him to a specialty clinic this afternoon, the physician there could read my notes, and have available complete information on medication, lab reports and past history."
Protection of medical information was a chief concern for Medical Center Chief Information Officer Jerry Powell, who worked to ensure that many levels of protection were available for many different areas of the system.
"The system compiles an audit list anytime a medial record is accessed or information is changed," Powell said. "The servers and databases are behind secure firewalls, and the data are replicated in real time to a duplicate secure database at a second physical facility. In many ways, our patient chart is more secure and reliable than the paper record ever was."
Halle McNaney, Allscripts project manager, has seen a dramatic shift in the attitude of physicians toward the adoption of technology. "We have all been amazed at the overall receptiveness of this ambitious project," notes McNaney. "Expecting every provider to undergo training and begin using a technical system that changes the way they do their jobs is not trivial. To see their optimism and acceptance of the TouchWorks application says a lot about its capabilities and the need for the types of efficiencies it delivers."
In addition to the disappearance of the large file rooms that previously held massive numbers of patients chart, Powell noted that there is one other significant change with the introduction of this system than with any other system he's helped introduce to the Medical Center.
"I truly was surprised at how quickly the benefits to the practice accrue," Powell said. "Typically, when we talk about introducing a technology that will reengineer an entire workflow practice, often it's a long-term payoff. But in this case, the benefits are almost immediate. Physicians and support staff quickly see how easy and efficient the system is, and word of mouth travels among the practices. Now, our problem is finding ways to bring the system to more practices, faster."
A distinguished career that includes pioneering work as an orthopaedic surgeon, mentor, educator and strategic leader has recently earned Medical Center CEO C. McCollister Evarts, M.D., multiple awards.
On May 3, the Monroe County Medical Society recognized Evarts with the Edward Mott Moore Award, the highest award bestowed by the Society named for the noted Surgeon-in-Chief at St. Mary's Hospital. Each year, the local physician society honors a physician and a layperson whose lives reflect the qualities exemplified by Dr. Edward Mott Moore as a physician, teacher, investigator, leader and contributor to the community.
Also in May, the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and its Department of Surgery will honor Evarts by creating the C. McCollister Evarts, M.D. Professorship in Artificial Organs. The Professorship was made possible through the generosity of Marlin Miller, Jr., a Reading, Pennsylvania executive who worked with Evarts during his tenure at Hershey Medical Center.
And last month in April, Evarts was recognized in the Physician Category of the Rochester Business Journal's annual Healthcare Achievement Awards for making a significant impact on the quality of health care in the Greater Rochester area. In addition to his years of clinical work at the University of Rochester Medical Center as chair of Department of Orthopaedics, Evarts' leadership role in strengthening relations with Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield and increasing National Institutes of Health funding for the Medical Center were cited as ways he has helped improve the region's health care.
"These are great honors and many qualify," Evarts said. "Throughout my career I've tried to serve my patients, students, colleagues and the community as best possible."
Evarts began his medical career as a graduate of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and served his internship and residency in orthopaedic surgery at Strong Memorial Hospital. While in medical school, Evarts met his wife Nancy, who was a student at the University of Rochester School of Nursing.
During a 10-year stint at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation where he headed the Orthopaedic residency program and ultimately served as chair of the Orthopaedics Department, Evarts helped introduce total joint replacement surgery to the U.S. He returned to Rochester in 1974 as chair of Orthopaedics and is credited for transforming that department into a national magnet for both research and clinical care.
In 1987, Evarts left Rochester to become CEO, senior vice president for Health Affairs, and dean of the College of Medicine at Pennsylvania State University and the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. At Hershey, Evarts guided the organization through a massive expansion in clinical, educational and research activity. Evarts became a University Professor at Penn State in 2000. In 2003, he returned again to Rochester to serve as a senior advisor to the Medical Center CEO. He was appointed to his current position in 2003.
A search is currently underway for his replacement. But don't count on him taking it easy. As a Distinguished University Professor, Evarts plans to continue working at the Medical Center indefinitely, helping to provide services to uninsured and underinsured orthopaedic patients, to help with the education of medical students and residents, to aid in tech transfer initiatives and to participate in development activities.