In This Section      
Print This Page

Dome - Improving Patient Care, One Small Idea at a Time

Dome December 2013

Improving Patient Care, One Small Idea at a Time

Date: December 2, 2013

From left to right, Rhea Baccay, Stacey Schaab,  Shruti Mittra,  Sheree Riley,  Serpouhi Toriguian and Edward Horvath are members of the Johns Hopkins sleep squad.
1 2
From left to right, Rhea Baccay, Stacey Schaab, Shruti Mittra, Sheree Riley, Serpouhi Toriguian and Edward Horvath are members of the Johns Hopkins sleep squad.

Although the squeaky cart or shift-change conversation is a normal part of any hospital soundtrack, excess noise can make the difference between a good night’s sleep and an extra night at the hospital for patients trying to heal.

With such concerns in mind, two employees at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center recently proposed a way to reduce sleep disruption: white noise machines that provide continuous static and ocean sounds.

The project, supported by a $1,400 grant from Bayview’s Pyramid Grants program, began when Sheree Riley, the Medical Center’s director of service excellence, and Stacey Schaab, director of performance improvement, measured the decibel levels on units as part of their effort to improve the medical center’s ratings in the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey. Bayview was consistently scoring below its goal on the question, “During your hospital stay, how often was the area around your room always quiet at night?”

The women found that decibel levels on many units measured very high during shift change. “It wasn’t that people were speaking loudly; it was just a lot of voices in a small area,” Riley explains, noting that alarms and noisy carts contributed to the problem.

The grant money will cover costs for white noise machines for each inpatient unit at the hospital.

Riley and Schaab’s proposal is among 91 funded since the program began in 2011. Sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Center for Innovative Medicine at Bayview and open to all hospital staff, Pyramid Grants support creative projects that enhance patient-centered care and provide immediate, measurable benefits for patients. This year, with the support of Bayview President Richard Bennett and the Safety Advisory Board, the program expanded to include safety projects aimed at reducing preventable errors and improving patient outcomes. Pyramid grants range from $50 to $1,500.

“Hopkins has a long tradition of supporting grants for research, but we never had a structured mechanism for staff with an idea to improve the patient experience,” says Cynthia Rand, associate dean for faculty at Bayview, who directs the Pyramid Grants, along with Melissa Helicke, administrator of the Department of Medicine and assistant dean. “Pyramid Grants empower staff to do what they want to do already: take the very best care of our patients.”

Bayview employees can apply for a Pyramid Grant by submitting a few paragraphs explaining their idea’s importance, budget and measurability. Grantees check in with the grant committee six and 12 months after implementation with updates.

The most recent round of Pyramid Grants was awarded this summer. The next round will take place in early 2014.

—Sara Baker

And the Winners Are …

Pyramid Grants were awarded last summer at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in two categories: service and safety. The next round will take place in early 2014.

Safety grants are designed to reduce preventable errors and improve patient outcomes. The awardees are:

Kelly Baca, RN, neonatal intensive care unit
Video on neonatal abstinence.

Rhea Baccay, RN, MPH, CMSRN, medical-surgical patient safety nurse
Quiet zone to promote medication safety in surgical unit.

Karen Barbe, imaging
Erlinda Wilkinson, radiology
Magazine subscription for imaging waiting room.

Butros Bazo, M.D., hospitalist
Abednego Chibungu, M.D., hospitalist
Patty Mattox, CRNP, hospitalist nurse practitioner
Haruka Torok, M.D., hospitalist
Project to improve hospitalists’ awareness of and adherence to the evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for providing care to patients admitted with four of the top 10 Johns Hopkins Bayview medicine diagnoses.

Jingyi Deng, Med A
Pressure sensor alarm that functions as a fall prevention device.

Seth Goldstein, M.D., surgery
Novel audio device to decrease high-risk patient readmissions.

Nowreen Haq, M.D., hospitalist
Pocket cards to educate physicians about the risk criteria and treatment algorithm for venous thromboembolism (VTE).

Matthew Kashima, M.D., otolaryngology
LIFE (learning inspired by interdisciplinary fact and education) project.

Susan Kraeuter, medical intensive care unit (MICU) and cardiac intensive care unit (CICU)
Wii Sports package to help strengthen MICU patients during their stay.

Rachel Moseley, wound care specialist
Reproducible method for testing the efficacy of silver-containing topical ointments.

Suchitra Paranji, M.D., hospitalist
Smart phone application.

Tanya Simmons, RN, cardiology clinic
Smart television for the IV diuresis clinic to provide education and entertainment during patient visits.


Service grants are designed to provide immediate, measurable benefits for patients. The awardees are:

Carletta Betz, Johns Hopkins Bayview Care Center Lakeside Medical Unit
(Received two separate grants)

  1. Family and patient courtesy center with a kitchen, healthy snacks, coffee, etc.
  2. Multisensory room with music, aromatherapy, radiance lamps, etc.

Linda Gorman, Harrison Medical Library
Spirituality books for the community health library.

Edward Horowitz, clinical immunology
Videotaping the diagnosis and treatment plan using existing Hopkins IT infrastructure to improve health care delivery and patient compliance.

Salwa Khan, M.D., pediatrics
Television and DVD player to play child-friendly programming in the Fast Track/Minor Care waiting area.

Sheree Riley, service excellence
Stacey Schaab, Johns Hopkins Bayview Care Center

White-noise machines for inpatient rooms.

Karen Tong, marketing & communications
Employee education about civility, and how their words and actions impact others.

Jennifer Vauk, social work
Neonatal abstinence syndrome parent information booklet for parents whose infant is displaying withdrawal in the NICU.

Yvette Wilson, RN, post anesthesia care unit (PACU)
Headphones for patients to use for music therapy in pre- and post-operative areas.