This week is National Hospital Week and National Nurses Week and Wayne UNC Health Care staff have reason to celebrate after receiving its second consecutive A grade for patient safety from a nationally-known hospital watchdog organization.

The grade marks the second time since the fall of 2021 the Leapfrog Group has given the hospital an A grade for patient safety. Prior to that, the hospital had received a B grade from the agency since 2019.

“As we celebrate National Hospital Week, receiving this highest grade for patient safety is even more significant, given the unprecedented COVID challenges of the past two-plus years,” said Jessie Tucker, Wayne UNC Health Care president and CEO. “While fighting COVID, the physicians, technicians, assistants, nurses, therapists, administrative staff, providers, and specialists in the hospital, as well as our clinic partners and visiting staff that often covered shifts in the hospital, remained laser-focused on patient safety.

“Continually improving quality and safety while battling COVID is a true testament to our care team’s dedication to our community.”

The Leapfrog Group, which is composed of patient safety experts, researchers and academics, was formed in 1998. Leapfrog uses information about a hospital’s patient safety measures and how the institution handles adverse events to determine grades from A to F for hospitals nationwide every six months.

The organization uses information, such as hand washing rules, the availability of highly-trained nurses and how hospitals electronically file prescriptions, to help determine the grade. The group started handing out the twice-annual grades in 2012.

Tucker said as conditions with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic improve, hospital staff will continue to focus on patient safety.

Wayne UNC Health Care is licensed to have 316 beds for patients but it operates with 233 beds, due to spacing and COVID-19 restrictions, Tucker said.

Hospital staff of 1,600 includes more than 150 doctors and more than 100 physician assistants, registered nurses and nurse practitioners. The hospital also has access to 127 telemedicine doctors, which handle general medicine as well as stroke and psychiatric patients.

Donna Wimberly, Wayne UNC Health Care chief nursing officer, said having the new grade announced this week added meaning because it came during National Nurses Week.

“When you think about everything that has happened over the past two years, with the COVID-19 pandemic surge, our staff here has had a lot of challenges,” Wimberly said. “They have continued to provide quality care and safety for the patients in this hospital as well as everyone else. It really makes this new grade from Leapfrog Group extra meaningful for all of us here.”

Wayne UNC Health Care, along with other hospitals including several in the region, received their latest Leapfrog Group grade this week, with some faring better than others.

Wilson Medical Center in Wilson and ECU Health in Greenville each received a grade of C from the Leapfrog Group. Vidant Duplin Hospital in Kenansville, Lenoir Memorial Hospital in Kinston and Johnston Health in Smithfield each also received a grade of A from the Leapfrog Group.

In June, Wayne UNC Health Care was also recognized for its level of care provided to heart attack patients with the American College of Cardiology’s National Cardiovascular Data Registry Chest Pain-Myocardial Infraction Registry Silver Performance Achievement Award.

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