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Member hospital WellStar Kennestone exemplifies collaborative spirit of best practice sharing of their ICU Early Mobility Program to VHA Georgia's Respiratory/ICU Council

Member hospital WellStar Kennestone exemplifies collaborative spirit of best practice sharing of their ICU Early Mobility Program to VHA Georgia's Respiratory/ICU Council

On February 14, 2013, WellStar Kennestone presented their ICU Early Mobility Program success to VHA Georgia’s Respiratory/ICU Leaders Council. The hospital detailed how their program has made great progress towards quality improvement and best practice with the development and implementation of an ICU Early Mobility Program, which began in February of the prior year with the help of Dale Needham, MD PhD, from Johns Hopkins University, and Christine Perme, physical therapist of Houston’s Methodist Hospital.

WellStar’s dedicated interdisciplinary team includes a physical therapist, a critical care nurse and a mobility tech, all of whom coordinate with the existing respiratory team. The team trained with Perme and has also participated in two Institutes for Healthcare Improvement webinars on sedation use and early mobility. The goal is to improve patient outcomes, reduce morbidity and mortality associated with critical illness, and ultimately save the hospital system on the cost of extended length of stays.

“We work with ventilated and non-ventilated patients to get them up and moving. The majority of our patients sit at the edge of the bed to get into a cardiac chair, but it’s really exciting when we get our ventilated patients up and walking,” reports Wendy Forman, physical therapist and project leader. “We’ve had a lot of success in getting our patients weaned from the vent days earlier. And, we are also seeing a large shift in discharge disposition to aggressive inpatient rehab facilities and even home,” Forman added.

Not only did WellStar’s presentation provide a good example of how knowledge sharing can be a value to fellow colleagues, but it also determined the direction of the council for 2013. By incorporating WellStar’s findings, the Respiratory/ICU Leaders Council’s focus will be on the early ambulation of ICU ventilator patients and more specifically, to reduce the number of occurrences of ventilator-related pneumonia and patient length of stay. It has also been found that this process has a positive emotional impact on a patient.


“Our goal for improving patients’ lives goes beyond our own walls. We hope to help teach other hospital systems how to create and sustain a successful program like ours,” Forman said.

VHA Georgia councils are one of many educational opportunities afforded to its members so they can collaborate and benefit from each other hospitals’ best practices.

For more information on the WellStar Kennestone’s success with ICU Early Mobility, contact Wendy Forman, physical therapist, at gwendolyn.forman@wellstar.org or 404.808.3633. For more information on how to be a part of the VHA Georgia Respiratory/ICU Council, contact Sharon Ellis, Director of Clinical Improvement at sellis@vhageorgia.com or 770.850.7433.

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