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Harlem Hospital Making Big Strides in Improving Patient Care

dr-michael-devita

Harlem Hospital is making tremendous strides in improving the quality of patient care under the leadership of its Medical Director, Dr. Maurice Wright. Since his appointment in 2010, Dr. Wright has established an outstanding hospital-wide quality improvement program, brought in many new department chiefs to oversee these improvement projects and installed a reporting system to ensure that the multidisciplinary teams are held accountable on a quarterly basis for performance.

The result: infection rates in several major areas have decreased significantly and, in November, Harlem Hospital was awarded an “A” rating and the 2015 Leapfrog Top Urban Hospital award by the Northeast Business Group on Health for its improvements in the safety and quality of patient care.

“We established a hospital-wide quality improvement program in all clinical and most non-clinical areas of the institution,” Dr. Wright said. “That was the mandate for change I had coming in.”

For example, Harlem’s infection rates have dropped by nearly 70 percent over the last five years. The hospital’s central line-associated bloodstream infections had a rate of 4.2 five years ago—twice the national rate. But for the last three years, Harlem’s rating dropped to between 0.8 and 1 — and down to zero in the neonatal intensive care unit for four years.

The hospital has also seen major decreases in catheter-associated urinary tract and bloodstream infections, a lower rate of falls, and, significantly fewer pressure ulcers.

Dr. Wright says implementing “lean methodology” has helped eliminate waste and develop more efficient systems at the hospital. “The lean methodology helped us carry out the hospital-wide improvement program. It is a tremendous success for quality and safety programs,” he said.

Looking forward, Dr. Wright said his priority this year is to improve the patient experience at Harlem. This will involve improving communication between clinicians and patients, pain management and transitions of care. “We are going to use the same set of improvement tools to approach the patient experience,” he said.

Dr. Wright, who grew up in Jamaica, previously served as Chairman of the Emergency Department at Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center in Brooklyn for approximately 14 years. He likes to spend his free time exercising, listening to music, watching sports and entertaining his 8-year-old niece.