March 12, 2018

Michele Pilon: Prioritizing Patient Safety Every Day, Offering Special Events in March

By Michele Pilon
President/CNO, Transylvania Regional Hospital

Every medical care provider I know would certainly list patient safety as the top priority in their work with patients, and the most significant contributor – aside from their expertise – to successful patient outcomes. National regulatory bodies like The Joint Commission and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), as well as state agencies, set care standard benchmarks that hospitals and health systems must meet or exceed in order to receive Medicare or Medicaid payments.

I’m focusing on patient safety this month because March 11th-17th is National Patient Safety Awareness week, and aside from talking about what that means at TRH, I want to share information on safety-related events that we’ve planned  throughout March.  In fact, TRH’s full accreditation from The Joint Commission signifies our commitment to delivering the highest quality and safest patient care we can. Our Transitional Care Unit has also received a five-star CMS rating – the highest possible, and our third consecutive award – which indicates that we meet the most rigorous patient safety criteria.

Well-known care standards require important universal practices include now-standard protocols, like the “time out” practice, where a surgical team pauses before starting a procedure to ensure that a patient’s identity is confirmed, that the surgical procedure about to be performed is the right one, and all surgical team members understand where the surgical site is located. Communication among hospital staff, medication safety, infection prevention steps, and patient risk assessments, for example, are all measures instituted to provide patients with the safest care possible.

TRH also uses a progressive analytical tool known as Root Cause Analysis (RCA) that systematically examines safety-related events on multiple levels.  Through the RCA, we take a “deep dive” into an event and ask “why” repeatedly, in order to identify what contributed to the event, approach it from many angles, and prevent future occurrences.

TRH is dedicated to creating what’s known as a “just culture,” or culture of transparency. We support our staff by encouraging the reporting of potential errors or care inconsistencies they may have been involved in or witnessed. Our staff regularly complete a Culture of Safety survey that measures indicators that impact patient safety, including how burnout, the workplace learning environment, local leadership, teamwork, the safety climate, and work-life balance affect our team members. Additionally, we survey our patients about all aspects of their care experiences.

This month, TRH will host a traveling patient safety “road show” throughout the hospital. We’ll share information about the Reporting and Learning System that hospital staff use to report actual and potential events, and formulate preventive, creative solutions to increase patient safety, as well as trend and monitor events. Staff will also discuss what motivates them to report events and some innovative safety-focused TRH programs will be highlighted, including our “Great Catches” program which recognizes reported items that significantly impacted patient safety, and our Caring for the Caregiver program to combat staff burnout. Staff members will have the opportunity to sign a pledge for patient safety, which reflects their commitment to provide the safest care possible to their patients.

Please join us at TRH to celebrate our providers’ commitment to the wellbeing of every patient.


Michele Pilon, MS, BSN, RN, NE-BC, is the President and CNO of Transylvania Regional Hospital. Her diverse professional experience includes service as a bedside nurse and over a decade as a leader at healthcare institutions in Virginia, Florida and North Carolina. Pilon earned a Bachelor’s in Nursing from Ohio’s University of Akron and a Master’s in Health Services Administration from the University of St. Francis in Illinois; she is also a board-certified Nursing Executive.

For more information on Transylvania Regional Hospital, visit trhospital.org.