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The employees, physicians and volunteers of Howard County General Hospital are committed to serving the health needs of the entire community. In addition to the more than 165,000 patients cared for at the hospital in Fiscal Year 2010, more than 40,000 people benefited from hospital outreach and education programs. Health screenings and education programs offered both in the hospital's Wellness Center and throughout the community promote wellness, prevention and early detection for a wide range of diseases.
Additionally, HCGH collaborated with more than 100 community organizations, providing financial, in-kind, and human and educational resources.
The ultimate goal of HCGH’s community outreach activities is to assist all residents of the community to live healthier, happier and more productive lives.
Howard County has long been a culturally diverse community and that legacy continues as the foreign-born population increases. Howard County General Hospital has a number of initiatives in place to respond to the needs of those non- English speakers.
The staff takes full advantage of the translation services provided by Johns Hopkins International (JHI). If the need is urgent, translation is provided by phone. For less pressing matters, JHI interpreters visit the hospital, usually within two hours of the request.
Since 2007, a full-time, on-site Spanish language interpreter has been serving the needs of Spanish-speaking patients. As an interpreter for JHI, Marita Teabo was a frequent visitor to HCGH. The Spanish language services were used so much that JHI and HCGH decided to create a full-time position to be located at HCGH.
“We are so pleased to provide this service. Nearly five percent of our patients are Hispanic and the number grows every year,” said Judy Brown, senior vice president of Outcomes Management. “By providing full-time translation services to such a large part of our patient population, we are fulfilling our mission to meet the health care needs of the community.”
Teabo helps with patients on each unit, but the busiest areas by far are Labor and Delivery (L&D), the Maternal Child Unit (MCU) and the Emergency Department (ED). For delivering mothers, Teabo is on hand for the entire process, working closely with the L&D staff, the patient and her family. “I really feel part of the team and it’s rewarding to be part of such a special family moment,” she said. A large part of Teabo’s work involves helping patients complete the variety of consent forms and helping them understand discharge instructions, particularly on MCU and in the ED.
“Although most of the forms are available in Spanish, many of the patients don’t know how to read very well. So my job is to make sure they understand each form.”
A native of Peru, Teabo speaks Spanish, English and German. Upon arriving in the United States in 1988, Teabo taught English in private companies and middle school before receiving special training in legal and medical translation/interpretation. Since then, she has served as a translator/ interpreter in both immigration court and medical situations.
Time is of the essence when a patient is experiencing a certain type of heart attack, known as a STEMI (ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction), a severe heart attack caused by a sudden, prolonged blockage of an artery that supplies blood to a large area of the heart. To ensure the best outcome for that patient, the blocked artery must be opened as soon as possible by a balloon angioplasty procedure in a cardiac catheterization laboratory.
At Howard County General Hospital, a team of interventional cardiologists, nurses and technologists provide 24/7 coverage in the cardiac cath labs. The goal for treatment time is 90 minutes from the time the patient enters the hospital to the time that patient’s artery is opened, a measure known as “door-to-balloon” or DTB time.
The hospital has a unique relationship with the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCFRS) that allows paramedics to activate the on-call cath lab team based on EKG interpretation in the field, before the patient reaches the hospital. HCFRS personnel have been specially trained on EKG interpretation by George Groman, M.D., an HCGH cardiologist. This authority is especially beneficial off-shift and on weekends, as it allows the patient and cath lab team to travel simultaneously to the hospital.
According to Matthew Levy, D.O., an emergency physician on staff at HCGH and associate medical director of HCFRS, “We have empowered EMS to make the call to get resources in line. They can be proactive, not just reactive. This vividly illustrates a perfect partnership between a health system and an EMS system – ultimately saving patients’ lives.”
That partnership recently was further enhanced with the addition of LIFENET, a web-based system that allows emergency medical services (EMS) teams in the field to send EKG readings to hospital staff digitally, with the results immediately accessible on desktop computers as well as smart phones. The new technology allows EMS to still make the call for catheterization, with the added benefit of providing EKG readings directly from the field to confirm their diagnosis.
“The launch of LIFENET was paid for by donations from our community,” said David Powell, Howard Hospital Foundation chair. “This is a great example of how the Foundation, hospital, Fire & Rescue Services and our neighbors can work together to bring the latest innovations to our area.”
The American Heart Association (AHA) estimates that close to 400,000 Americans experience STEMI every year. Studies show that when door-to-balloon (D2B) time is 90 minutes or less, patient outcomes significantly improve. HCGH has an average D2B of 75 minutes, earning the AHA Get with the Guidelines Gold Performance Achievement Award.