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Dome - A little goes a long way

January 2012

A little goes a long way

Date: January 10, 2012


Schaab, Sidle, Doane
Using a small patient-centered grant, (clockwise from left) Stacey Schaab, Kevin Sidle and Laura Doane found a simple solution to make ventilator-dependent patients’ stays less stressful.

Often unable to breathe without a ventilator, many critically ill patients spend long hours with limited movement.

“When you can’t catch your breath, it’s a scary feeling,” notes Kevin Sidle, respiratory program manager at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Sidle teamed up with nurse Laura Doane, patient care manager for the Plaza Unit of the Johns Hopkins Bayview Care Center, and Stacey Schaab, director of performance improvement for the Care Center, to make the Plaza Unit’s ventilator-dependent patients’ stays less stressful.

They found the answer in Johns Hopkins Bayview’s new Putting the Patient at the Top of the Pyramid grants program.

Pyramid grants, open to all Johns Hopkins Bayview staff and faculty, support creative projects that enhance patient-centered care. These projects might, for example, improve patient and family comfort, convenience, communication or education while at the hospital.

The Plaza Unit’s plan was simple. Staff members knew that ventilator patients in this chronic care unit spend a lot of time lying in bed, staring at the ceiling. They wanted to make their environment a little less stark, and a little more conducive to relaxation and healing. The team submitted a Pyramid grant proposal to purchase artistically designed fluorescent light diffuser panels for each of the patient rooms. They thought that the calming cloud motifs would help patients feel like they were “looking out a window,” says Doane, not cooped up in a hospital bed.

The light-panel art grant was one of 20 projects chosen for funding in the Pyramid grant’s inaugural run this year. The individual grants range from $50 to $1,500. “They are small amounts of money, but they make a big impact,” says Cynthia Rand, deputy director of patient-centered care at Johns Hopkins Bayview and creator of the Pyramid grant program.

“These projects are having an immediate impact on patient care and a long-term impact of building a culture that reinforces the notion that all of us can make a difference,” says David Hellmann, vice dean of Johns Hopkins Bayview and director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Innovative Medicine, which funds the grants.

And the grant has made a difference for patients on the Plaza Unit. “One patient told me that looking at the light-panel art was the most happiness she’s felt since she’s been here,” says Schaab. That happiness translates to healing. “These patients are fighting to get off of ventilators,” says Sidle. “The more relaxed they feel, the easier their breathing is.”

Pyramid grants will be awarded twice a year; the next application deadline is March 15. The second round of 20 grants was recently announced, and included a collaboration between pastoral care and the emergency department to create a private space for grieving families, and a collaboration between social work, ambulatory and Gyn/Ob for their young women’s pregnancy support clinic.

—Sara Baker

The round of funded Pyramid grants included projects to:

  • Supply asthmatic children with a travel pack of equipment, medication and information.
  • Create a handbook for family members of Johns Hopkins Burn Center patients.
  • Offer a comfort cart with beverages for patients and families in the emergency department.
  • Provide scleroderma patients with room heaters, gloves and hand warmers to increase their comfort during clinical visits.
  • Build a small library of illness-related resources for patients and families in the adult psychiatry clinic.
  • Use iPads to provide patients with bedside education about their medical problems.
  • Create a patient-generated newsletter for community psychiatry’s intensive on-site services.
  • Create “CARE Sheets” to provide internal medicine patients with a daily summary of their care.
  • Create a system to mark the doors of Med B patients with fall alarms, allowing other patients to keep their doors closed for quiet and privacy.
  • Provide personalized nutritional treatment plans to promote patient healing in the Johns Hopkins Wound Healing Center.
  • Support a multidisciplinary Diabetes Week to offer patients coordinated clinic visits with different specialists related to their diabetes care.
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