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Beacon Award Goes To Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit

By: Larry Stalica, RN, BSN and Charlie Kline, RN, Senior Level III

It is an honor for the Strong Heart and Vascular Center's Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) to accept the prestigious American Association of Critical-Care Nurses Beacon award. The Strong Heart and Vascular Center has been committed to providing Western New York's most comprehensive cardiovascular services. We strive to provide world-class care close to home for Western New Yorkers. Not only have we provided the community with state of the art health care, we have built a healthy work environment for our dedicated staff. The CVICU at Strong Memorial Hospital was opened in 1998. Since the CVICU's inception, the multidisciplinary team has been committed to providing service excellence in every aspect of patient care. We rely on the latest evidence-based practices to ensure the highest quality of health care possible. Through reliance on a multidisciplinary model we have stressed the importance of teamwork.

Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit wins Beacon Award

The CVICU supports the community and region with the area's premier critical care transport team, the region's only artificial heart program as well as the region's only cardiac transplant program.

Our dedicated leadership team works hard to promote the culture necessary to be recognized by this prestigious award. The CVICU demonstrates excellence in all six categories the AACN has defined.

The CVICU places high value on recruiting and retaining highly skilled nurses. The level of expertise required to function in the CVICU setting necessitates excellent educational systems. These systems have caused us to consistently score high on staff satisfaction surveys. Our high standards of practice and value of a comprehensive education program support a culture of patient safety on the unit.

The CVICU values mentoring and coaching as valuable development tools. We consistently promote from within. Our educational processes are centered on mentoring and coaching opportunities.

The Strong Memorial Hospital CVICU works hand in-hand with the Center for Cardiovascular Research. Our staff plays a vital role in research that has changed the way heart disease is treated. We are a research site for several of the most technologically advance artificial heart support technologies. We have adopted the evidence-based practices recommended by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). Recent evidence-based literature is reviewed on a regular basis and implemented in our daily practice.

Patient outcomes in our CVICU exceed the standards in many areas. We perform above the standard with ventilator-acquired pneumonia rates as well as central line infection rates. Evidence-based care bundles assist us with reaching these high standards.

While most of our focus is on the patient, we have not forgotten their families. We have adopted open visiting hours to ease the emotional stress on patients and families. Our staff participates in scheduled ethics rounds to help bring the multidisciplinary perspective to our operational processes. The patients, as well as their families, are offered spiritual, cultural and palliative care services during their stay in the CVICU.

Leadership and organizational ethics are one of the CVICU's strongest assets. We have structured ourselves as a Strong team. We have a well-organized model of shared governance. Each staff member is encouraged to participate in decisions that contribute to unit operations.

With strong leadership, the Strong Memorial Hospital CVICU staff is involved, supported and empowered to provide the regions most highly skilled comprehensive cardiovascular services.