WICU Wins Beacon Award

Second Unit at JHH Honored

by Whitney L. J. Howell

IOM Recommendation 2The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Weinberg Intensive Care Unit (WICU) is shining with excellence. The WICU, in the Department of Surgery, received the Beacon Award for Excellence from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) in November, becoming the only unit in Maryland to receive the award in 2011.

The honor, coupled with the Beacon Award won by the Department of Medicine’s Medical Intensive Care Unit in 2010, recognizes individual units that distinguish themselves by improving every aspect of patient care. It also demonstrates the clinical nurses’ dedication to their work says Sam Young, MS, RN, ACNPC, CCNS, CCRN, the WICU’s clinical nurse specialist.

The AACN’s report recognized the strengths of the unit as its proven interdisciplinary practice, culture of excellence, and leadership. The WICU’s cultivation of shared governance and patient- and-family-centered care is unique. “The unit’s open culture sets us apart,” Young says. “Nurses have opportunities to grow, to be autonomous, and to collaborate with others.”

To facilitate that freedom, WICU nurse manager Donna Prow, BSN, RN, started group meetings. Up to 14 nurses meet for team-building, practice updates, and idea-sharing. “The entire staff has a voice,” says nurse clinician III Carol Maddrey, BSN, RN. “That breeds pride within our unit and gives everyone the confidence that we can make a difference.”

The most significant change has been embracing patient-centered care. The WICU expanded visiting hours to 20 hours a day, making it easier for family and friends to visit. A new “family involvement menu” lets visitors choose ways to help, such as assisting the patient with grooming. Having loved ones nearby also improves patient-nurse-family communication. “Visitors can report subtle personality or behavior changes nurses might not notice,” Young explains.

Young says the WICU receives many thank-you letters, and “performance star” boards posted in the unit allow patients and visitors to recognize staff. “It shows our customers we like what we’re doing,” she says. “The WICU is a good experience for them.”

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