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Hospital Strategy Challenge: Small and Medium Hospitals (200 beds and under)

July 1, 2007
by Daphne Lawrence
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Saint Claire's Hospital, Weston, Wis.

Saint Clare's Hospital in Weston, Wis., is a 107-bed facility that anchors the Weston Regional Medical Center, and is a member of Milwaukee-based Ministry Health Care. As one of the most high-tech hospitals in the nation.

"Our guiding IT principles were to optimize information flow by eliminating duplication, and providing 'any place any time' access to information," says Tanya Townsend, IT director. Since it is chartless and filmless, Saint Clare's was built without a medical records room or film storage room. It uses one network for voice, data, video and monitoring, and is wireless throughout, including patient and visitor access.

"Our goal was to be patient and family friendly," Townsend says. That meant looking carefully at the design process and rethinking usage: nursing stations became "communication centers" placed closer to the elevator and waiting areas, instead of being located in the middle of the floor. Bedside documentation was achieved with tablet devices, and patients and visitors have wireless access anywhere. Patient safety also took center stage in the design process, with CPOE and medication reconciliation from day one, real time clinical decision support, and the ability to manage home medications across the continuum of care.

Tanya Townsend

Quality of care is significantly improved in the new hospital, according to Townsend. Incomplete orders were at 8.5 per month prior to implementation—they dropped to zero within three weeks. Also automated medication administration has proven to be highly efficient: "We can hang a stat antibiotic as soon as 10 minutes from time of order," Townsend says.

Tanya Townsend can be reached at