Mercy Burn Center physicians and co-workers gathered
to celebrate the verification achievement.
ST. LOUIS – The Burn Center at Mercy Hospital St. Louis was recently verified as an adult and pediatric burn center, the only verified center in Missouri.
Burn center verification is a voluntary joint program of the American Burn Association (ABA) and the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Committee on Trauma. To achieve verification, Mercy met rigorous standards for organizational structure, personnel qualifications, facilities resources and medical care services. The verification highlights Mercy’s high quality patient care for burn patients from time of injury through rehabilitation.
“This national designation shows our patients and surrounding community the commitment we have made to provide the highest quality of care to those who need our services,” said Dr. Michael Smock, Mercy Burn Center director. “People may not think they’ll never need burn care, but when they do it’s good for them to know the level of care we provide.”
According to the ABA, burn injuries result in more than 500,000 hospital emergency department visits and approximately 50,000 acute admissions in the U.S. each year. Most burn injuries are relatively minor and patients are discharged following outpatient treatment at the initial medical facility. However, of the patients who require hospitalization, about 20,000 are admitted directly or by referral to hospitals with special capabilities in the treatment of burn injuries.
The Mercy Burn Center, a 12-bed unit, is the only facility providing comprehensive acute and reconstructive burn care for adults and children in eastern Missouri and southern Illinois. Mercy Hospital St. Louis treats 256 burn patients each year.
Mercy Hospital St. Louis, part of Mercy’s east Missouri region, is a 979-bedcomprehensive teaching hospital. The 80-acre site houses a nine-level heart and vascular hospital, a cancer center, a comprehensive pediatric hospital, a surgery center and a 120-bed skilled nursing center.Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 33 acute care hospitals, four heart hospitals, two children’s hospitals, two rehab hospitals and one orthopedic hospital, nearly 700 clinic and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and 2,100 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
ST. LOUIS - The Kirkwood Fire Department officially joined Mercy for emergency medical services (EMS) medical direction. Kirkwood has 46 uniformed personnel and one civilian secretary, including three chief officers. Nearly all of the members are cross-trained as firefighters and paramedics or emergency medical technicians (EMTs).
Mercy Saint Louis EMS Medical Director Dr. John Wimas is excited for the opportunity to work with Kirkwood Fire.
“We’re anxious to share our EMS education, outreach and technology with the men and women of Kirkwood,” Wilmas said. “Together we will provide great care to our communities.”
Mercy provides medical direction to nine area districts and departments, offering monthly EMS education with face-to-face, physician-led education. The training is also streamed live and recorded for EMS crews. Other recent innovations include EMSource, an interactive EMS app for first responders. EMSource hosts protocols, reference material, education, news and contact information. Other projects linking data and outcomes are currently being planned.
Young visitor gets a new bike helmet while Mercy
volunteers instruct students from St. Louis Community
College on the proper way to fit bike helmets.
Mercy recently partnered with the Maryland Heights Fire Protection District for its annual Safety Day and Open House. The event attracted nearly 500 people from the community and was an opportunity for Mercy representatives to talk about safety, injury prevention and fit bike helmets.
Mercy volunteers fit nearly 100 helmets and educated kids along with adults about the importance of wearing a helmet to prevent head injuries. Paramedic students from St. Louis Community College also learned how to fit helmets and helped during the day.
Maryland Heights is one of nine fire districts and departments under Mercy’s medical direction.
Pet therapy dogs and their owners volunteer at Mercy in many areas.
Purina visited Mercy and made a video to share how pets help patients.
Laughter can be the best medicine. So, the sight of Reno, a 4-year-old pet therapy Shetland sheepdog riding his skateboard down a Mercy hallway gives patients a nice dose of it.
Bob Good, Reno’s owner, has been volunteering at Mercy since 2009, with Reno the last two years. He said if he can take patients’ minds off why they are in the hospital, even for five minutes, he’s done his job.
At Mercy, therapy dogs and their owners are volunteers who visit patients for many different reasons. They help provide normalcy for patients who have pets at home, companionship and activity during hospitalization, boost spirits of patients recovering from illness or surgery, and give extra motivation to heal.
Thyme, a 9-year-old Australian shepherd pet therapy dog has been coming to Mercy for three years. Thyme’s owner Kit Conn-Glenz pointed out that while Thyme is providing therapy to patients, he thinks it’s all about him. “It’s like a spa day for Thyme. He has a bath, gets his coat brushed and then comes to the hospital for all sorts of attention and cuddles from patients.”
Pet therapy dogs go through extensive training and must meet certain requirements before visiting patients at Mercy.
“People are often surprised we have a pet therapy program,” said Lauren Lee, manager of Volunteer and Guest Services at Mercy Hospital St. Louis. “We work with several accredited organizations and have 20 pet therapy volunteers who visit various areas of the hospital on different days throughout each month.”
Studies have shown that pet therapy can help reduce anxiety in hospital patients. One study by the American Heart Association showed a 12-minute visit with a man’s best friend helped heart and lung function by lowering pressures and diminishing release of harmful hormones in heart failure patients.
Reno visited heart patient Mary Krummey who thinks the program is “awesome.” She said, “People who love dogs, can’t help but love it. Especially on the heart floor, it can be very calming.”
Kids also love having visits from pets. At Mercy Children’s Hospital, Child Life Specialist Quienton Townsend said everyone becomes a dog lover when the therapy dogs are around. “If they had opposable thumbs, I’d be out of a job,” joked Townsend. “The power a dog has here is incredible. A kid could shut down and not want to do physical therapy or get out of bed, but when a dog comes in, it changes everything.”
ST. LOUIS - Mercy Hospital St. Louis has been ranked No. 2 in Missouri and No. 2 in the St. Louis area on the best hospitals list for 2013-14 by U.S. News & World Report. The annual U.S. News Best Hospitals rankings, now in their 24th year, recognize hospitals that excel in treating patients with the most challenging conditions.
“This recognition is an honor to receive and lets the community know what we already do,” said Jeff Johnston, Mercy Hospital St. Louis president. “It wouldn’t be possible without the daily dedication of our medical staff and co-workers who care so deeply about the compassionate care and service our patients receive at Mercy.”
U.S. News evaluates hospitals in 16 adult specialties. In most specialties, it ranks the nation’s top 50 hospitals and recognizes other high-performing hospitals that provide care at nearly the level of their nationally ranked peers.
“A hospital that emerges from our analysis as one of the best has much to be proud of,” said Avery Comarow, U.S. News Health Rankings editor. “Only about 15 percent of hospitals are recognized for their high performance as among their region’s best. Just 3 percent of all hospitals earn a national ranking in any specialty.”
U.S. News publishes Best Hospitals to help guide patients who need a high level of care because they face particularly difficult surgery, a challenging condition or added risk because of other health problems or age. Objective measures such as patient survival and safety data, the adequacy of nurse staffing levels and other data largely determined the rankings in most specialties.
The specialty rankings and data were produced for U.S. News by RTI International, a leading research organization based in Research Triangle Park, N.C. Using the same data, U.S. News produced the state and metro rankings.
The rankings have been published at http://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals and will appear in print in the U.S. News Best Hospitals 2014 guidebook, available in bookstores and on newsstands Aug. 27.
Mercy Hospital St. Louis, part of Mercy’s east Missouri region, is a 979-bedcomprehensive teaching hospital. The 80-acre site houses a heart and vascular hospital, a cancer center, a comprehensive children's hospital, a surgery center and a 120-bed skilled nursing center.
Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 32 hospitals, 300 outpatient facilities, 39,000 co-workers and 1,900 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
Dr. Donna Eckardt, medical director of the
pediatric emergency department at Mercy Children's Hospital.
ST. LOUIS - Parents often ask me “Would you have brought your child here for this problem?” As an emergency room doctor, I have a pretty good idea when a child needs to be seen in the emergency department. My kids often joke that they have to be bleeding or unconscious to get my undivided attention. But the truth is, as a mom, when kids are sick, I just want them to feel better as soon as possible. For most parents, knowing when an illness or injury is severe enough to take their kids to the emergency department can be tough – especially with other options like urgent care and convenient care clinics available when doctors’ offices are closed.
There are some very clear symptoms that should be handled in the emergency room. If your child experiences any of the following, don’t wait – call 911 or get to your nearest hospital ER:
Loss of consciousness
Severe abdominal pain
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Choking on an object
Fever with stiff neck, dark rash, inconsolable crying or difficulty waking up
Deep cuts or bleeding that won't stop
Coughing up or vomiting blood
Allergic reaction with difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, or swelling of the tongue, lips or airway
Vomiting, blurred vision, severe headache, loss of motor skills or bleeding from the nose or ears following a fall or head injury
Signs of shock following an injury: pale or blue lips, difficulty breathing, changes in alertness
Objects impaled in the body
Severe bites (animal or human)
Heat stroke, frostbite, hypothermia
Beyond these problems, the decision on where to seek care becomes a little more difficult. Many people are familiar with urgent cares and they’re becoming more common. They are open outside of normal doctor office hours and treat simple cuts, wounds, minor burns and broken bones, insect bites, sprains and strains, along with other common health concerns.
A newer option for care outside traditional doctor hours are convenient care clinics. Convenient cares are usually open later in the evenings and on weekends, and offer walk-in visits without appointments. The health care professionals there treat coughs, colds, sinus infections, sore throats, ear infections, rashes, pink eye, upset stomachs, urinary tract infections and other minor health conditions. If you receive treatment at one of these, it’s important to make sure your medical records are shared with your pediatrician so they know what’s been treated and prescribed. For some conditions, such as ear infections, follow-up care might be needed.
There’s no manual for raising kids, but parents usually have pretty good intuition when their child isn’t acting or feeling right. Keep the major symptoms in mind and if your child doesn’t have any of those and your pediatrician isn’t available, urgent and convenient care clinics can be good options.
Dr. Donna Eckardt is a Mercy Clinic emergency medicine physician and medical director of the pediatric emergency department at Mercy Children’s Hospital. For more information about Mercy Urgent Care and Convenient Care locations, please visit www.mercychildrens.net.
Mercy Hospital Berryville Named Level III Trauma Center
Whether it’s a car crash or a bad fall, when your family needs emergency care in a hurry, Mercy Hospital Berryville is ready to help. It’s been named a Level III trauma center for Arkansas.
“Mortality rates for trauma patients are significantly higher in rural areas,” explained Dr. Milo Warner, medical director for the emergency trauma center. “Delay to care is one of the reasons for that, and it’s why Arkansas has created a statewide communications system. It monitors hospitals and keeps track of what special services are available so a patient can be transferred to the facility that’s best able to care for them.”
To attain the Level III designation, Mercy Hospital Berryville had to meet a number of criteria. Hospital staff is prepared to operate on patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Physicians are certified in Advanced Trauma Life Support, and nurses are certified in Trauma Nurse Core Curriculum. The hospital has also invested in new equipment, like a bedside ultrasound machine for rapid diagnosis of internal injuries and a glide scope for easily placing a tube into the airways.
Another important role of a Level III trauma center is to evaluate patients to see if they need to be stabilized and then transferred to a larger facility. Mercy Hospital Springfield serves as the Level I trauma center for the northwest and north central regions of Arkansas. “Patients can be evaluated in our emergency department and, if needed, be transferred quickly to Springfield in a state-of-the art helicopter for Level I treatment,” said Cindy Selover, emergency trauma director at Mercy Hospital Berryville. “If a patient is transferred to Springfield or Mercy Hospital Rogers, their electronic health record goes with them. That means the staff at the other Mercy facilities knows everything from what we’ve done to stabilize them to what medications they’re currently taking, and anything else in their health history that might cause concerns.” It also means x-rays and lab work get to the next care team before the patient ever arrives, so they can be prepared.
Now that Mercy Hospital Berryville has achieved Level III status, it isn’t finished. Along with continuing education for the staff, there are more plans to upgrade equipment. The hospital is purchasing additional cardiac monitors and better overhead lights for the exam rooms.
“We hope continually improving our knowledge and technology will save the lives of our neighbors when they need us most,” said Kristy Estrem, president of Mercy Hospital Berryville. “It’s why we’re here, and why we worked so hard for the Level III designation.”
ST. LOUIS - Chemical and nuclear exposure can be deadly, not only to the person exposed but to caregivers. In the event of a large scale exposure, Mercy Hospital St. Louis would activate its Hazardous Operations Team made up of volunteers from various hospital departments.
To ensure this team is prepared when the time comes, Mercy recently held a drill to practice procedure for hazardous events such as radiation exposure or chemical spill.
“In an exercise like this, we are constantly learning and making adjustments,” said Jeff Hamilton, Mercy’s regional manager of emergency management. “We want all of the team to know what it feels like and how to react if they were called upon for a true emergency."
To decontaminate, patients must go through a state-of-the-art, military-style tent that contains specialty shower heads and water jets as well as a conveyer roller system for those who are unconscious. They will remove clothing and go through a massive showering and soaping down process. The process keeps the contaminant out of the hospital and from spreading to the caregivers.
During the recent drill, the team members practiced setting up the tent and decontaminating volunteer “victims” before they entered the emergency department. All team members dressed in their personal protective equipment, or hazmat suits. In addition, the nuclear medicine department also tested the ability to detect radiation levels on patients.
Mercy Hospital St. Louis implements two disaster drills annually, one of which is in conjunction with the St. Louis Area Regional Response System. In addition, Mercy’s Search and Rescue Team and HOT Team each have annual drills to test their management of various disaster-related scenarios.
Mirha Avdagic, MD, family medicine physician, will see patients at Mercy Urgent Care locations in St. Charles County. She served as a general practice physician in home country of Bosnia before moving to the U.S. and completing her residency in family medicine at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
Pamela L. Buchanan, MD, family medicine physician, will see patients at Mercy Clinic Family Medicine Zumbehl, 1820 Zumbehl Rd., Ste. 130A. She most recently served as family physician at urgent care centers in the St. Louis area. She earned her medical degree at Ross University School of Medicine in the West Indies and completed her residency in family medicine at Mercy Hospital St. Louis.
Christina Gesmundo, MD, pediatric psychiatrist, will see patients at Mercy Clinic Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She earned her medical degree at University of the East Ramon Magsaysay in the Phillipinnes and completed her residency at Maricopa Integrated Health System in Phoenix, Ariz.
Otha Myles, MD, infectious disease physician, will open a new practice called Mercy Clinic Infectious Disease, 621 S. New Ballas Rd., Ste. 140A, on the Mercy Hospital campus. He most recently served as assistant professor of medicine at University of Maryland School of Medicine and infectious disease attending physician at University of Maryland Medical Systems.
Sanjay Subramanian, MD, critical care and neurocritical care physician, joined Mercy Clinic Adult Critical Care and will also support Mercy SafeWatch. He most recently worked as a staff intensivist in Washington state at Multicare Good Samaritan Hospital and The Everett Clinic.
Ashalatha Tatineny, MD, emergency medicine physician, will see patients at Mercy Urgent Care locations. With 30 years of emergency medicine experience, she most recently served as urgent care physician in the St. Louis area.
Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 32 hospitals, 300 outpatient facilities, 38,000 co-workers and 1,900 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. In Mercy’s east Missouri region, Mercy’s services include a 979-bed hospital in St. Louis, 187-bed hospital in Washington, 251-bed hospital in Festus and Mercy Clinic, a 570-member multispecialty physician organization.
Dr. Cole Condra, pediatric emergency medicine physician at Mercy Children's Hospital.
ST. LOUIS - It’s 3 a.m., and your 15-month-old daughter has just awakened crying with noisy breathing. She’s coughing frequently and sounds like a dog barking. When you call your pediatrician, you’re told to take her to the Pediatric Emergency Department for evaluation. After evaluation, the physician diagnoses her with croup and prescribes a corticosteroid to improve her symptoms by reducing the inflammation in her larynx (voice box).
Do you ever wonder how your physician decides which medicine to give? Does he give a single dose of dexamethasone, or choose prednisolone that is given for several days? Which medicine has been shown to be more effective? The answer lies in evidence –based medicine (EBM).
EBM is the process of systematically reviewing research findings and combining them with clinical expertise to provide the best, most appropriate care to patients. Simply put, EBM helps health care providers make medical decisions based on up-to-date research, clinical experience and what’s best for the patient.
EBM is not “cookbook” medicine where a physician simply follows a “recipe” to treat every patient in an identical way to achieve the same results. Instead, your physician uses the best available research along with her individual clinical expertise. Neither alone is enough to treat your child effectively. Without both clinical expertise and current research evidence, the patient’s care may not be what it should be.
Here’s a very good example using the croup diagnosis. A single, oral dose of dexamethasone has been demonstrated to be effective in reducing the symptoms of croup. Dexamethasone will last longer in the body than other steroids (36-54 hours), thereby requiring only a single dose during the emergency department visit. Multiple doses of dexamethasone have been studied but were no more effective than a single dose.
The other corticosteroid option is prednisolone. However, studies have shown that children who receive prednisolone have more return visits to the emergency department for continued symptoms than children who received dexamethasone. Thus, if your child receives prednisolone, your child will often need a three to five day course of the medication as opposed to the single dose of dexamethasone.
So, as you drive home from the emergency department at 4 a.m. following the single oral dose of dexamethasone, you’re thankful for the peace of mind that your child is improving, that you won’t have to find a 24-hour pharmacy to fill a prescription and that your emergency physician uses evidence-based medicine.
Dr. Cole Condra is a Mercy Clinic pediatric emergency medicine physician with Mercy Children’s Hospital. For more information, please visit www.mercychildrens.net.