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DHHS Receives Grant to Promote Patient Safety in State Operated Healthcare Facilities


For release: Immediate    February 23, 2012
Contact: Julie Henry

Patient safety and fair treatment of employees will be the focus of a new, grant-funded initiative in the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of State Operated Healthcare Facilities. The $600,000 three-year grant was awarded by the Duke Endowment as part of the implementation of a “Just Culture” approach to safety that promotes employee responsibility and system-wide improvement to ensure safety for patients and residents.

“We appreciate the Duke Endowment’s support of our efforts to engage our employees in a positive approach to patient safety,” said Luckey Welsh, director of the Division of State Operated Healthcare Facilities (DSOHF). “This model represents a paradigm shift for our organization in putting our focus on education as well as accountability for staff. It is a proven model that is already being used in many hospitals across the state.”

The Just Culture movement in North Carolina began with the N.C. Board of Nursing. Its implementation in DSOHF will promote organizational learning, remove blame and ensure fair and consistent treatment for employees, while maintaining the accountability expected by regulatory bodies and the public.

DHHS oversees and manages 14 state operated healthcare facilities that treat adults and children with mental illness, developmental disabilities and substance use disorders. More than 17,000 people are employed in the facilities serving an average of 3,000 patients/residents each day.

Training for the initiative will be done in collaboration with the N.C. Hospital Association’s Center for Hospital Quality and Patient Safety (NC Quality Center), formed in 2004 to lead North Carolina hospitals to become the safest and highest quality hospitals in the country. It is the only organization in the state trained and certified in Just Culture implementation.

The Duke Endowment invests in the quality and safety of patient care through programs that equip providers to improve care and reduce preventable medical errors. The Endowment has awarded nearly $40 million in 11 multi-year grants to help hospitals create a culture of safety in North Carolina and South Carolina and reduce mistakes that might harm patients.

During the three year grant period, DSOHF employees at every level of the organization and the NC Quality Center will contribute more than $1 million in staff time in training, implementation and enforcement of concepts associated with Just Culture.

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