LeConte’s Healthy Lifestyles is a health and wellness publication printed twice a month in local newspapers serving Sevier County and South Knoxville. And here online! We hope you find this information healthful.
Table of Contents
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the United States and worldwide. In the U.S., lung cancer is responsible for about 27 percent of cancer deaths, more than those from breast, colon and prostate cancers combined. Statistically, lung cancer caused by smoking is responsible for more than 130,000 U.S. deaths per year.
Several Covenant Health hospitals now offer a new weapon in the fight against lung cancer. Low-dose CT screening (LDCT) is now available at LeConte Medical Center in Sevierville, Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center in Knoxville, Methodist Medical Center in Oak Ridge, and Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System in Morristown.
Early Detection with Low- Dose CT
Yearly lung screening with low-dose CT has been shown to save lives by finding lung cancer early, when it is easier to treat. Studies have shown that early detection through an LDCT lung screening can lower the risk of death from lung cancer by 20 percent in people who are at high risk. Without LDCT lung screening, lung cancer usually is not found until a person develops symptoms, when the cancer is much harder to treat.
“This screening is an incredibly powerful tool,” said Cliff Cole, MD, pulmonologist and hospital chief of staff. “As a physician I know it can lower the risk of death from lung cancer by up to 20 percent for those at high risk. But it’s also more than a screening – we have support for the patient to help coordinate resources such as referrals, counseling and follow-up appointments. It is definitely a team approach.”
Who May Benefit from LDCT?
LDCT lung screening is recommended for:
- People ages 55-77 who have smoked at least an average of one pack a day for 30 years. This includes those who still smoke or who have quit within the past 15 years.
Those with past cancers or emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis or a family history of lung cancer.
Those who have had exposure to substances such as asbestos, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, diesel fumes, nickel, radon, silica and uranium.
An Easy Screening
An LDCT scan takes less than 10 seconds. No medications are given and no needles are used. You can eat before and after the exam. You do not even need to change clothes, as long as the clothing on your chest does not contain metal. You can also breathe easier knowing Medicare now covers the cost of the CT lung cancer screening exam.
About one in four LDCT lung screening exams will find something in the lung that may require additional imaging or evaluation. Most of the time these findings are lung nodules, which are very small collections of tissue in the lung. These nodules are common, and the vast majority – more than 97 percent – are not cancer. Most are normal lymph nodes or small areas of scarring from past infections.
Less commonly, lung nodules are cancer. To distinguish benign (noncancerous) nodules from cancerous nodules, more images may be necessary. If the nodule has suspicious features (for example, it is large, has an odd shape or grows over time), you will be referred to a specialist for further testing.
Eligibility for this screening must be determined by your healthcare provider. Talk with your physician to determine whether your lung cancer risk warrants LDCT screening and to schedule your exam. If you need help finding a physician, call (865) 453-9355. To learn more about LDCT lung screening, go to covenanthealth.com/low-dose-CT.
On the night of Monday, Nov. 28, wildfires which had simmered in the Smoky Mountains were stoked by near hurricane-force winds and came to “full boil,” burning through surrounding dry forests and heading for the communities of Wear’s Valley, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg with incredible speed. As fires worsened, an evacuation of the area was announced.
In anticipation of emergency medical needs, LeConte Medical Center implemented the hospital’s disaster plan and protocols. Covenant Health, LeConte’s parent organization, provided additional resources for disaster preparedness and operations.
With an ongoing commitment to putting the patient first, LeConte immediately began treating patients with fire-related conditions. By Dec. 5, one week after the fires had blazed out of control, LeConte Medical Center had cared for 149 fire-related patients.
LeConte Medical Center collaborated with organizations such as the Tennessee State Emergency Operations response team during the crisis. The team set up a mobile command center adjacent to the hospital, which facilitated communications between the organizations.
LeConte Medical Center also provided accommodations and food for local and state emergency responders and fire crews from throughout the United States. In addition to onsite support, the hospital prepared food and supplies and dispatched them to rescue units throughout the county.
The LeConte Medical Center Thrift Shop, operated by hospital volunteers, opened its doors to receive extra donations and to help those affected by the fires. Within the first week more than 250 care packages with toiletries, essential items and size-specific clothing were distributed to those in need.
Administrators from LeConte Medical Center and Covenant Health have expressed gratitude to LeConte employees, physicians and volunteers, who worked tirelessly to provide care to the surrounding communities. Several LeConte employees lost their homes in the fires, yet continued caring for others despite their own personal losses.
For information about ways to help wildfire victims
or about donating or receiving clothing and
essential supplies from LeConte Medical Center,
Other words of gratitude have come from the emergency responders and operations teams, who have thanked LeConte Medical Center for food, housing and support as the emergency teams accomplished their difficult tasks.
Jenny Hanson, LeConte’s president and chief administrative officer, served as incident commander of the hospital’s command center during the week following Nov. 28.
“I think God has placed each of us here for this specific purpose, and used the gifts and talents of our team to best meet the needs of our patients, first responders and the community at large,” she said. “All of us at LeConte Medical Center and Covenant Health extend our condolences to those who lost loved ones and those who suffered personal tragedies as a result of the fires.”
I thank each and every member of the LeConte family for unwavering dedication, to our patients, to each other and to the community. The response from throughout Covenant Health also has provided wonderful support for our efforts,” Hanson said.
Covenant Health’s executive leadership team expressed thanks to LeConte employees, saying, “In times of crisis, the importance of what we do every day in health care is highlighted even more. The Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge communities are dealing with incredible loss, yet LeConte Medical Center’s staff is there, caring for patients even while many of the Center’s employees are facing personal loss and concerns.
“We recognize the employees and medical staff for their incredible commitment to caring for the community. We are proud to be part of this dedicated team.”
LeConte and Covenant Health are also grateful to the many individuals and organizations who have given financial donations to help LeConte employees and the hospital, including the Tennessee Hospital Association, Mountain States Health Alliance in Johnson City, and others.
Covenant Health celebrated the accomplishments of individual employees and collaborative teams throughout the health system at the 2016 Performance Excellence Awards. The awards celebration included two categories: the Everest Awards, recognizing individual achievement, and the Performance Excellence Awards, for projects supporting the health system’s Journey to Excellence pillars: Quality, People, Service, Finance, and Growth.
Ten finalists were selected throughout the Covenant Health system for the Everest Awards, which recognizes non-management employees who reach the “peak” of performance. Because of the high performance of the finalists, all 10 were named 2016 Everest winners. They are:
LeConte Medical Center
Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System
Thompson Oncology Group
Claiborne Medical Center and Nursing Home
Roane Medical Center
Yasheta “Pinky” Hardin
Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center
Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center
Methodist Medical Center
LeConte’s Everest winner, Anissa Adcox, is an RN in the surgery department, where she prepares patients for their surgical procedures.
Twenty-four applications were selected for final judging in Covenant Health’s Performance Excellence Awards. The selection process included pre-screening at the facility level, judging by external healthcare and process improvement professionals, and final selection by Covenant’s executive leadership team.
LeConte Medical Center’s Emergency Department received a Performance Excellence Award for its “Emergency Department Flow and Surge Capacity Initiative.” The initiative focused on LeConte’s high ED volume, which totaled 54,000 patients in 2015. With high volume comes the increased likelihood of long wait times, which can lead to higher numbers of patients “Leaving Without Being Seen.” A multidisciplinary team worked to improve patient flow and create a plan for periods of high census. As a result, LWBS rates average around two percent, and door-to-provider times have shown a consistent downward trend.
It’s no secret that Michael Hatmaker believes Fort Sanders Sevier Nursing Home is a home where the heart is.
That’s because he sees it every day in the people who work there, the people who live there and most recently, in the five-star rating Fort Sanders Sevier recently earned in Medicare.gov’s prestigious Nursing Home Compare scores.
The overall score, which allows consumers to compare information about more than 15,000 Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing homes, is derived from the combined scores of health inspections, staffing and quality measures. In several instances, FSSNH scored higher than both the state and national average.
For Hatmaker, vice president of support services and the nursing home’s administrator, it was validation of what he already knew.
“It’s heart,” he said. “That’s where it is with our folks. Our staff really care about our residents. They really do. They care about each other, and I think that is why they get such great results. It’s not about a job – it’s about a relationship, a connection with the people they are taking care of.”
Nursing Home Compare’s five-star rating means “much above average,” and is followed by four stars at “above average,” three stars at “average,” two stars at “below average” and one star at “much below average.” FSSNH received five stars in nearly every evaluation category.
“A five-star rating means our quality indicators show that we are providing above-level care for our long-term and short-term, or skilled care, patients,” said Hatmaker. “It also means that our staffing is above the average staffing level. In nursing homes, it’s all about response time and making sure the resident is the first priority. These indicators help us identify that and make sure that we’ve got enough staff in order to hit those quality indicators.
“For future residents, it identifies us as ‘best practice’ – that’s what a five-star rating is,” he added. “It means there is not a better practice in the community. So for our future residents, it lets them know that this is the highest quality care they can receive when they are looking for a nursing home.”
“That’s what a five-star rating is … for our future residents, it lets them know that this is the highest quality care they can receive when they are looking for a nursing home.”
In fact, FSSNH’s 34-person staff was only one fewer than the number of residents at the time of the survey. Such staffing assures each resident that he or she will spend, on average, two hours and 33 minutes with licensed nursing staff per day. That’s not only “much above average,” but also tops the state average by almost one hour and the national average by almost two hours.
“It makes a huge difference to our residents,” said Holly White, director of nursing, who oversees seven other registered nurses, six licensed practical nurses and 14 certified nursing assistants. “We have the ability to not just meet our resident’s physical needs, but also the time to sit down and hold a hand or take them to an activity. I think the residents absolutely love the quality time that we get to spend with them.”
Amy Miller, unit administrative coordinator, has worked at FSSNH for 14 years and echoes those sentiments.
“The facility in general has a very home-like atmosphere, and the staff treat our residents just like they are family,” she said. “So, our culture here is unique. We try to make that first impression. Just as soon as someone comes into our facility, we want them to feel at home. We want them to recover and be able to return home if possible, and if we are their forever home, we want to make sure that they come here to live.”
Much of that “homey” atmosphere can be attributed to the facility’s size. “It is a small nursing home – we only have 54 beds,” said Hatmaker. “It is very person-centered, very homelike, and the staff and the residents here have huge hearts that want to welcome folks. We really have a strong community in our nursing home, and I think the biggest reason for that is the heart most of our individuals have.”
That “heart” is what parent company Covenant Health looks for when hiring throughout its system. In fact, all employees – current and new hires – sign a Pledge of Excellence that the patient always comes first, that employees will strive for excellence in everything they do and that they will personally do their part to make Covenant Health “the first and best choice” for healthcare.
“There are two things we tell our staff before they are hired or when they are doing an interview,” said Hatmaker. “The first one is that they are supposed to love on every resident in this facility like that resident is a family member. And the second one is they are supposed to give their personal best or personal excellence every day. Seeing those quality indicators in Nursing Home Compare where we are better than the state and national average tells me, ‘We are making it about family. We are making it about residents first.’ It means that our folks are striving for their best – and the results are there.”
Hatmaker said process improvements in communication, consistency in practice, expanding the meaning of quality, teamwork and involving hands-on staff in decision-making processes have been key components figuring into Nursing Home Compare’s five-star rating. “But ‘heart’ is at the top of all that,” he said. “The first thing that contributed to our scores was the heart of the individuals helping our residents. It’s a can-do attitude.”
Even before Covenant’s Pledge of Excellence was developed, Hatmaker was taking steps to instill its principles into the culture of Fort Sanders Sevier Nursing Home. Using the facility’s initials, FSSNH, he created a list of characteristics he hoped would not only benefit its residents but also would change the perception of what nursing homes are like.
“We posted signs every month that ask, ‘What does FSSNH mean to you?’” said Hatmaker. “And so we branched out and made a little acronym that we’ve broken down like this:
“The ‘F’ in FSSNH means ‘Friendships and Fun’ because people don’t come here to die; they come here either for short-term rehab or to have some fun,” he said. “Activities coordinator Angie Long does a phenomenal job of drawing people out and letting them have fun.
“The first ‘S’ in FSSNH is ‘Service with Respect.’ These are the elders in our community. These are folks who grew up in a different day and time,” Hatmaker said. “So our second focus is to make sure that they have service with respect – that they are addressed appropriately and we say ‘Mr. or Mrs.,’ ‘yes, ma’am’ and ‘yes, sir.’
“The second ‘S’ is ‘Safety,’ because when you are thinking about placing a loved one in a nursing home somewhere, you want to be able to trust them and know that it’s going to be safe.
He continued, “The ‘N’ is ‘Need to Honor Residents’ Lives’ because typically, when an elderly person looks in the mirror, they don’t see an elderly person. They see what they used to be. So whether it was a Marine, whether it was a schoolteacher, whether it was a businessman or businesswoman, we try to reflect that versus reflecting on them as an elderly person. We try to reflect on what’s happened in the past and look back.
“The ‘H’ is ‘Home,’” Hatmaker said. “This should be home. We are guests of the residents of our nursing home. We’re actually just living in their space. So we try to make it their home.”
Are you interested in making Fort Sanders Sevier Nursing Home a home for you or a loved one? Learn more at lecontemedicalcenter.com/nursinghome or call (865) 429-6694 to arrange a tour or visit our admissions office Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Pamphlets and brochures available upon request.