Since the last Progress edition published in 2020, several new staff members joined Fitzgibbon Hospital, at a time when the not-for-profit hospital was fully engaged in the fight against Covid-19. In addition to new staff, other employees received promotions to accommodate a change in leadership, as Angela Littrell, CPA, MBA, succeeded Darin Haug, D.O., as President and Chief Executive Officer in February, 2020. Dr. Haug resumed work in the Emergency Department and serves at Chief Medical Officer.
Harris appointed Fitzgibbon Chief Financial Officer
Fitzgibbon Hospital in Marshall appointed Nancy Harris as Chief Financial Officer in January 2020. Harris, who had served as Director of Financial Services since 2012, succeeded Littrell in the role. Harris had been with the Fitzgibbon organization since February 1996.
“Nancy brings considerable experience and expertise to the position and I value her dedication to Fitzgibbon Hospital and our community. Her thoughtful, steady leadership will be essential as we tackle the challenges ahead for rural healthcare providers,” said Littrell.
Dr. James Kerns joins Fitzgibbon Hospital and Marshall Women’s Care
Women in Saline and surrounding counties received a new option for obstetrics and gynecological services with the addition of James Kerns, M.D., board-certified OB/GYN, to the staff at Marshall Women’s Care, inside the Fitzgibbon Medical Clinic.
Prior to joining the staff at Marshall Women’s Care, Dr. Kerns served as the Medical Director of Heartland Community Health Clinic in Pekin, Illinois.
“Dr. Kerns brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in providing gynecological and obstetrics services to women of all ages. We are very fortunate that he has family nearby which brought him to us,” said Angy Littrell, President and CEO of Fitzgibbon Hospital. “Dr. Kerns is so personable, and I know he will provide excellent care for his patients.”
In addition to general care and surgical interventions to treat women’s gynecological health issues, Dr. Kerns delivers babies at Fitzgibbon Hospital’s Women’s Center, which was recently re-modeled to reflect the latest in mother-baby care and a family-focused birth experience.
Fitzgibbon Hospital is one of only a few facilities in Missouri to be recognized as a Baby Friendly hospital by Baby Friendly, U.S.A. and the World Health Organization. The designation recognizes Fitzgibbon’s support for a positive breastfeeding experience and mother-baby bonding.
Dr. Kerns earned his medical degree at the University of Illinois School Of Medicine in 1983. He completed his first residency at the University of Illinois MacNeal Hospital Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Chicago in 1983. He completed a second residency at the South Baltimore General Hospital in Obstetrics and Gynecology in Baltimore, Maryland in 1988. Kerns also received a Master of Business Administration in Health Care in 2004 from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.
He has served as a Clinical Assistant Professor for the Department of Family and Community Medicine for the University of Illinois since 2017. Kerns also received recognition as the Residents’ Teacher of the Year, presented by the University of Iowa – Family Practice Residency Program in 2001.
To schedule your appointment with Dr. Kerns at Marshall Women’s Care call (660) 886-7800.
Barr joins Fitzgibbon Hospital as Foundation Director
The desire to be closer to family is strong for any new mom, and that is certainly the case with the new Foundation Director at Fitzgibbon Hospital. In December 2020, Andrea Barr began leading the Foundation efforts for the not-for-profit 501(c)3 hospital. She said the role appears to be a “perfect fit” for her because she wants to be involved with her community as well as closer to her family.
“Fitzgibbon Hospital is really a perfect fit for me,” said Barr. “When I graduated with my degree in marketing, I always wanted to lead fundraising events, and I dreamed of working at a children’s hospital. Community events are my passion. There isn’t a children’s hospital near here, but Fitzgibbon Hospital is great, and I am very excited for this job opportunity.”
Barr replaces former Foundation director Jackie Finnegan, who retired.
Pelvic Floor Therapy can bring Relief for Pain and Incontinence
Women across the community have silently struggled with a condition that can negatively affect their quality of life, but there is a solution and it is available locally at Fitzgibbon Hospital. Pelvic floor therapy can be utilized to help women with frequent, emergency trips to the bathroom following that particularly big bump in the road or hilarious moment during a movie or television show.
Pelvic floor therapy helps individuals strengthen the muscles in the lower part of their pelvis which are important for going to the bathroom, intimacy and life in general. Stacia Felgar, licensed Occupational Therapist at Fitzgibbon Rehabilitation, provides this life-changing therapy.
“After giving birth or as we age, often women have issues with pelvic pain or incontinence. A lot happens during birth. With pelvic floor therapy, we are able to help our patients get back to normal functions and live their lives, enjoying their new little one,” said Felgar.
The pelvic floor is made up connective tissue, bones, ligaments, nerves and 14 muscles. The pelvic floor is at the bottom of the pelvis and has multiple functions including supporting the internal organs, allowing timely/appropriate opening and closing of the vaginal, urethral, and anal openings, as well as providing stability of the pelvis from the inside. The pelvic floor is also responsible for sexual function.
As an occupational therapist, Felgar is passionate about treating patients with a holistic approach in addressing the health factors that can impact everyday life and prevent people from living life to the fullest. Pelvic health can affect the ability to sleep, work, play and enjoy social activities due to an inability to maintain continence or because of pain. If your life is impacted by any of these very correctable challenges, please ask your doctor for a referral to Fitzgibbon Rehabilitation for Pelvic Floor Occupational Therapy. For more information about pelvic floor occupational therapy, visit www.fitzgibbon.org.
Fitzgibbon Hospital Launches Telemedicine
The pandemic put stress on health systems nationwide, but it also propelled many forward with the implementation of new technologies to make the provision of healthcare even safer. In April of 2020, Fitzgibbon Hospital culminated years of planning with the full implementation of telemedicine for certain family health and mental health visits.
Video communications platforms like Skype, FaceTime and Zoom allow people to connect “virtually.” The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - the governmental agency which regulates much of how healthcare providers operate in this country – recognized the value of these communication platforms and loosened the rules around their use to provide telemedicine services.
“Our ability to launch telehealth services was in direct response to community need during the pandemic and a lifting of onerous regulations which had hampered our organization’s ability to offer these services to our community,” said Angy Littrell, CEO of Fitzgibbon Hospital. “When looking at the many barriers to care in our area, like lack of transportation and an aging population, we know that offering telehealth will increase access to care. Patients can stay safely in their homes and can visit with their health care provider.”
Fitzgibbon Hospital announces Capital Campaign
Fitzgibbon Hospital announced a capital campaign to replace the cornerstone of its Cancer Center, a life-saving piece of equipment which delivers radiation therapy: the linear accelerator.
As part of an ongoing plan to keep the Fitzgibbon Community Cancer Center as a state-of-the-art facility to provide cancer care, Fitzgibbon Hospital intended on announcing at Fling 2020 a new focus for replacing the 10-year-old linear accelerator. But COVID-19 caused the cancellation of The Fling. The ongoing pandemic also resulted in cancellations of the annual Pete H. Rea Memorial Golf Tournament and the Hooters for Hooters Golf Tournament, which is organized annually by Connie Latimer. The cancellation of these events has delayed the public announcement of a capital campaign to replace the very important piece of cancer treatment equipment.
“Traditionally, we identify a need at Fitzgibbon Hospital that is shared with our donors at The Fling each year,” said Angy Littrell, CPA, MBA, President and CEO of Fitzgibbon Hospital. “We were looking forward to launching the two-year, $2 million capital campaign for the linear accelerator at The Fling 2020, but COVID-19 changed our plans.”
The linear accelerator is the primary tool used by physicians in delivering radiation treatments to cancer patients. The new linear accelerator will provide the same treatment to patients they currently receive in a fraction of the required time. The new technology also will allow the not-for-profit Fitzgibbon Community Cancer Center to expand the types of cancer that can be treated locally, without ever having to leave the community.
To make a tax-deductible donation in 2021 and to take advantage of deductions in this calendar year, please contact Andrea Barr, Foundation Director, at (660) 831-3850 or click on the “Giving Back” button found on the hospital’s website at www.fitzgibbon.org.
Fitzgibbon Hospital Marketing Wins Statewide Recognition
Fitzgibbon Hospital received statewide recognition at the 2020 “Show-Me Excellence Awards” for Healthcare Marketing. The annual Show-Me Excellence Awards are normally held each June at the Missouri Association for Healthcare Public Relations and Marketing Conference (MAHPRM). This year’s awards were conducted virtually in August with a video production emceed by Fitzgibbon Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator Richard DeFord. This is his third year as the emcee of the awards.
Fitzgibbon Hospital took first place in the state in the category “Best Public Relations and Marketing Project for a Small/Rural Hospital” for the multi-faceted campaign centered around the Fitzgibbon Community Cancer Center’s 10th Anniversary in October 2019. The campaign included print ads, posters and signage, radio ads, brochures, and an in-person event with guest speakers from the community. Second and third place in the category went to Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare in Clinton.
Fitzgibbon Hospital also won both second and third place awards for “Print Ads: Production Cost Less than $1,500.” The second place award was for print ads highlighting stories from cancer survivors in preparation for the Fitzgibbon Community Cancer Center’s 10th Anniversary. The third place award was for an advertisement welcoming back Dr. Smith to our community as an OB/GYN Physician. Dr. Smith held a baby he delivered in the photograph. Cox Health in Springfield won first place in that category.
Best of Show for the 2020 Show-Me Excellence Awards was a video produced by Mercy Health Foundation in Joplin featuring the touching story of “Jett’s Story of Healing.” Jett was a foster child with a difficult health journey who found great connection at his local hospital.
The awards competition was established by MAHPRM in 1981 and is the only Missouri competition dedicated to hospital and health care public relations and communications efforts. With 22 categories, the competition included projects in media relations, advertising, publications, writing, photography, marketing and public relations.
New Automated Medication System Improves Patient Safety at Fitzgibbon Hospital
As part of the move to its electronic health record, Cerner CommunityWorks, Fitzgibbon Hospital upgraded the way it monitors and delivers medications to patients as they receive care in the hospital, whether it is in the emergency department, throughout an inpatient stay, or during surgical procedures. The new system, which relies on the electronic health record to double-check the accuracy of the medication order and dosage, was fully implemented through 12 automated kiosks.
“We are pleased to once again be able to provide leading-edge technology to our community,” said Angy Littrell, President and CEO of Fitzgibbon Hospital. “Patient safety is among our primary concerns, and the use of the new RxStation technology – which integrates orders from the patient medical record - provides even further assurance of advanced patient safety and the reduction of medication dispensing errors. This is truly next-level automation available to safeguard our patients.”
Eight RxStation cabinets were installed throughout the facility including the intensive care unit, ambulatory care, emergency department, Medical-Surgical unit, the Women’s Center, surgery department and within Fitzgibbon Hospital’s own pharmacy, which manages medication supplies for the various departments.
Fitzgibbon Hospital earns “Most Wired” Designation with Special Recognition
Fitzgibbon’s health and safety efforts as it relates to its technology interfaces recently received national recognition for another consecutive year.
The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is pleased to announce that Fitzgibbon Hospital has earned 2020 CHIME Digital Health Most Wired recognition as a certified level 7, receiving special recognition. The designation was bolstered by a level 9 score for security, nearly the highest level. Additionally, Fitzgibbon Hospital performed in the top 16% of all entrants in the area of technology infrastructure.
“The implementation of our Electronic Health Record and all of the systems that are required to keep an innovative, 24-hour hospital operating at the highest level for our patients requires a dedicated team of men and women,” said Angy Littrell, President and CEO of Fitzgibbon Hospital. “The delivery of healthcare today, versus what it was even 20 years ago, is substantially different with our reliance of technology.”
A total of 30,091 organizations were represented in the 2020 Digital Health Most Wired program, which this year included four separate surveys: domestic, ambulatory, long-term care and international. The surveys assessed the adoption, integration and impact of technologies in healthcare organizations at all stages of development, from early development to industry leading.
Donations from the Community aid in Covid Response
While hospitals across the country reported supply shortages, Fitzgibbon Hospital is thankful for the many individuals in the community who showed their support to these frontline warriors in healthcare by providing hand-sewn masks. These masks provided a barrier for “worried well” individuals who are accompanying patients as well as an extra layer for staff in certain areas. In addition, these masks aide in the preservation of the N95 “respirator” masks, which are so important to those interacting with potential COVID-19 patients. The donated hand-sewn masks were worn over the N95s to help keep them cleaner; and the colorful fabrics were a welcome sight for worried patients and sometimes weary staff.
Meanwhile, community members were also thinking outside the box for ways they could join the fight, utilizing technology to make the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE) easier for healthcare workers.
Jason Wasson and Josh Teague, two Saline County residents, set their 3D Printers into motion to print straps for masks that protect healthcare staff. These workers sometimes wear masks for hours at a time, and the usual elasticized bands which go around their ears can be irritating. The 3D-printed straps enable the masks to be worn via a connecting piece of silicone around the back of the head, relieving uncomfortable pressure on the backs of the ear.
“I've seen many articles on Facebook about nurses and doctors and how the masks, after wearing them for hours every day, can cause painful, irritated skin and are uncomfortable,” said Wasson. “With our medical personnel needing more PPE (personal protective equipment) and having to wear them for longer periods of time, I knew it would only be a matter of time before they were having the same problems, if they weren't already.”
Wasson got together with his friend, Josh Teague, and decided that the need would soon arise, and they wanted to help out. They began printing the straps so local healthcare professionals would not suffer from their required PPE.
Community members also responded with donated meals, treats, and other stress relieving items to help the staff know how much their community relies on them and appreciates their sacrifice and heart work to make our community safe and well cared for.
Fitzgibbon Hospital adopts best practices, innovative technologies and cutting-edge techniques from hospitals at the epicenter
When the COVID-19 pandemic was declared on March 13, 2020, the epicenter of the virus seemed a half a world away. But that’s when Fitzgibbon Hospital leaders began exploring ways to protect their healthcare workers and the community, while ensuring access to care. Members of the organization’s leadership team studied best practices of world-class institutions on the front lines of the battle, like the Biocontainment Unit at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
Following guidance from these hospitals at the forefront of the COVID-19 battle, Fitzgibbon implemented several cutting-edge technologies and techniques right here at the 501 (c)3 community acute care hospital.
One of these innovations included a Plexiglas hood, constructed by the Fitzgibbon Maintenance Department with guidance provided via Mt. Sinai Hospital. The “hood” looks like a clear box with an open side and provides a shield for caregivers during certain procedures.
“Our ER staff is able to place this Plexiglas hood over the patient’s face and shoulders while performing the intubation. The hood is clear, so everyone can see exactly what needs to be done, while providing protection from the aerosol droplet spray, in addition to their regular PPE,” said Callie Post, BSN/RN, Director of Critical Care at Fitzgibbon Hospital.
Intubation is a procedure during which a tube is inserted into a patient’s airway. The tube is then connected to a ventilator to help them breathe. In the course of performing the insertion of the tube, it is common that the patient may cough, causing droplets, which could contain the virus, to be propelled into the air.
In addition to building this hood, Fitzgibbon Maintenance Department personnel installed Plexiglas dividers in primary registration points throughout the hospital to provide protection for registration staff.
Fitzgibbon Hospital also worked to combat the short supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) by constructing and implementing a “clean room” for sterilizing N95 respirator masks with ultraviolet light. The sterilization method was initially implemented at the National Ebola Education and Training Center at the University of Nebraska Hospital in Omaha. The hospital was gifted the required high-power UV bulbs by Ham Hill Farms, Inc.
Another way Fitzgibbon Hospital worked to protect patients and staff is through enhancement of negative pressure rooms. In a typical facility with air-conditioning, air is circulated through the facility with a number of air handlers. A negative pressure room allows air to be forced from the room and the building rather than being recirculated. Placing a patient in a negative pressure room means that if they have a highly infectious condition such as COVID-19, they are cared for in a room from which the air is removed. This reduces the chance of re-circulating air that potentially carries the virus.
In addition, the installed an “air scrubber,” which is a free-standing unit used to remove the air in one of the rooms in the Women’s Center. This is used in the event of a COVID-19 positive woman presents for delivery.
Fitzgibbon Hospital administers First Unit of Convalescent Plasma
Fitzgibbon Hospital in Marshall administered its first unit of convalescent plasma in October 2020, which is an emerging therapy for treatment of patients with COVID-19. This marks the first time Fitzgibbon used the investigational therapy.
Convalescent plasma therapy involves donated blood from patients who have recovered from COVID-19. Their blood may contain antibodies to the virus. Specifically, it is believed the antibodies help suppress the virus and modify the body’s inflammatory response in very ill patients.
Convalescent plasma therapy was given an emergency use authorization on Aug.23 by the Food & Drug Administration for use in hospitalized patients diagnosed with Covid-19. The plasma therapy was administered via IV transfusion in the hospital’s intensive care unit.
In addition to convalescent plasma, other therapies which have been administered to COVID-19 patients at Fitzgibbon Hospital include Dexamethasone, which is a steroid, and Remdesivir, an anti-viral agent. Remdesivir was first given an emergency use authorization by the FDA in May. The EUA was later expanded and its scope of use broadened.
Front-Line Healthcare Workers Vaccinated at Fitzgibbon and TLC in December
Collaboration between Fitzgibbon Hospital and the public health departments of Saline and Johnson counties resulted in the first doses of Covid-19 vaccine being administered to front-line healthcare workers at the hospital in Marshall. Following hours of planning meetings and a flurry of preparation spearheaded by Fitzgibbon Hospital’s Chief Nursing Officer Angela Igo, MSN, R.N., in the hours leading up to the Christmas holiday, the team at Fitzgibbon Hospital successfully vaccinated its first 10 workers on Dec. 28.
Representatives of Johnson County Community Services public health department arrived with a rolling medical cooler containing 80 doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, which was been designated by the State of Missouri for frontline healthcare workers as part of the state’s vaccination plan. The doses were made available via a redistribution agreement coordinated by Tara Brewer and the Saline County Public Health Department after a conversation with her peer in Johnson County, Mo.
“We received 975 doses from the state on about Dec. 16,” said Mary Thaut, administrator of the agency in Warrensburg. “Those went straight in the freezer, and then we began distributing them to the front lines. Tara (Brewer) and I talk on a regular basis, so this distribution to Fitzgibbon came about.”
“This is a huge thing for rural Missouri,” said Brewer, who was present for the vaccine hand-off. “We are happy to be helping make this possible.”
The Pfizer-manufactured vaccine is shipped in allotments of 975 total doses, with a limited shelf life and the requirement for storage at -70 degrees Celsius, or -94 degrees Fahrenheit. The ultra-cold freezer requirement limits the number of sites which can adequately store the Pfizer vaccine, although state officials have specified that they want no waste in such a precious commodity. And once thawed, the undiluted vial can be kept refrigerated for only five days. Each vial holds approximately five doses which requires dilution. The Fitzgibbon pharmacy, led by PharmD Joe Cho, diluted the vials into individual patient doses in a sterile environment. Once diluted, the vaccine is only good for six hours, so patient scheduling is also critical in the process.
In a parallel activity, residents of The Living Center, the long-term care facility on the Fitzgibbon campus, also began receiving Covid-19 inoculations on Dec. 28. Those vaccines were administered by representatives of CVS Pharmacy, also part of the state’s plan for mass-vaccination.