Report Recommends Improvements at Northport VA Medical Center

More focus on cleanliness and maintaining general structural integrity in patient care areas was among 11 recommendations for improvements at the Northport VA Medical Center in a report commissioned by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The report is part of the Comprehensive Healthcare Inspection Program undertaken every three years by the Office of Inspector General. The OIG focuses on specific areas on a rotating basis each year. The review was made during an unannounced visit the week of April 23 via interviews and review of clinical and administrative processes in areas that affect patient outcomes. The VA refers to the reports as a snapshot of facility performance within the different focus areas and notes the findings may help facilities identify areas and conditions that, if properly addressed, could improve patient safety and healthcare quality.

The OIG noted findings in five of the eight areas of clinical operations it reviewed and issued 11 recommendations regarding system issues as well as other findings that, if they aren’t addressed, “could interfere with delivery of quality health care,” according to the report summary. The report was released Sept. 18.

Here’s what the report noted regarding the lack of cleanliness, which is important for good patient outcomes, and structural integrity in patient-care areas. “Specifically, the OIG found that seven patient care areas inspected had dirty, dusty, and/or rusty ventilation grills; four patient care areas had dusty fire sprinkler heads; three patient care areas had torn or partially attached privacy curtains; stained, dusty, cracked, and/or broken ceiling tiles and light fixtures. Further, the CLC rooms and hallways had water leaks, and multiple inpatient rooms throughout the facility had holes and cracks in the walls.

“Facility managers stated that Environmental Management Service (EMS) housekeeping staff was not following room cleaning procedures, EMS supervisors were not spot-checking rooms after cleaning, and EOC rounds were not performed as required.”

The report recommended the associate director ensure a safe and clean environment is maintained and monitor staff compliance. The facility agreed and the target date is Dec. 31. Areas will be inspected, a monthly check list will be started and monitored for four consecutive months with an expected result of 90 percent compliance in all 70 patient care areas.

Inspectors also recommend “a proactive pest control management program” to deal with “the presence of insects (ants and roaches) and insect residue in the CLC, ED and locked MH unit patient rooms. The presence of insects within the healthcare environment reflects the lack of systematic cleaning and pest control processes and could result in transmittal of diseases to patients, visitors, and staff.”

In several areas, inspectors found the facility met requirements and made no recommendations. They included compliance with requirements for reporting women’s mammography results; and the facility’s central line infection-control and infection-prevention risk assessments procedures, which included patient and staff education on infection-prevention procedures in installing and maintaining central lines, or lines threaded through a vein that are used to deliver fluids, medication, blood or nutrition.

Regarding peer reviews, inspectors found general compliance but noted a lack of consistent processes to identify opportunities for improvement, implement recommended actions, and evaluate how effective those actions were.

According to the report’s facility profile,  the Northport VA had a total medical care budget of $327.4 million for fiscal year 2017, handled 30,713 unique patients, 403,967 outpatient visits and had 1,557 unique employees involved in direct medical care. The VA designates Northport as a 1c facility of mid-high complexity, which it notes has medium-high volume, sees medium-risk patients, has some complex clinical programs and has medium-sized research and teaching programs.

The full CHIP report on the Northport VA Medical Center can be found here.

The Veterans Administration Medical Center in Northport, Long Island’s only VA hospital. Photo credit: Flickr

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