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Bedford Memorial gets prestigious designation

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    Centra Bedford Memorial Hospital (BMH) has received a prestigious nursing designation. It’s awarded by the American Nursing Credentialing Center (ANCC).

    “It verifies we are committed to our nurses excelling and that they are empowered here in Bedford,” said Carolyn Hitchcock, a registered nurse and Pathway Excellence Coordinator.
    What does “empowered” mean?
    Hitchcock said it means that nurses can suggest change and know that management will listen to them. She noted that listening to the nurses is important because they interact directly with the patients and are in a position to see what is going on.
    “They are the eyes and ears at the bedside,” she said.
    The hospital applied for the designation and providing the necessary documentation was a process that took more than a year.

    The first step was compiling a 2,000-page report consisting of stories about the hospital’s nurses. In the second step, the ANCC sent out a confidential questionnaire to all nurses. Responding to the questionnaire is voluntary but at least 60 percent must respond in order for the hospital to get the designation. Seventy-five percent of Bedford Memorial’s nurses responded.
    The idea of the questionnaire was to verify that most nurses agree with what the hospital wrote in its stories about nurses. ANCC counted the percentage of positive responses to each question. It also calculated a positive response average for the questionnaire.
    “We passed with flying colors,” said Georgiann Watts, a registered nurse and the hospital’s chief nursing officer.
    The positive response average for BMH was 85 percent, according to Watts. The minimum ANCC considered acceptable was 75 percent. The hospital also passed on every question, something else ANCC looked at.
    Areas the questionnaire covered included shared decision making, quality of patient care and the safety of both patients and staff.
    They were also interested in the hospital’s concern about staff well-being. Watts said there are a number of actions BMH does in that area. They have night meals available for night nurses. They also have a walking path and a self scheduling system that takes into account the fact that nurses have needs outside of work.
    ANCC was interested in whether management was available to nurses who want to bring a problem to their attention.
    Professional development is important. Watts said the hospital provides opportunities, both in the hospital and outside for professional development for nurses. Nurses can attend conferences.  Watts said Centra provides tuition assistance for professional development, for example, a license practical nurse who wants to become a registered nurse.  The hospital also works with a nurse’s schedule so that she can attend classes.
    Watts said the hospital has been successful hiring nurses from the community and they want to keep them here. Keeping them means making sure they feel valued.
    The ANCC designation is good for four years. Hitchcock said only eight other hospitals in Virginia have it and Bedford Memorial is the only one in Central and Southwestern Virginia. Only 166 hospitals in the world have it.  
    Bedford Memorial will be recognized at an ANCC event in Orlando, Florida, next year. This will be an international event with representatives from hospitals in the Philippines, Australia, México, Switzerland and Thailand in attendance.