HOUSTON (July 16, 2009) --The National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (NAPH) has awarded two programs from the Harris County Hospital District the organization's Safety Net Award, a program that highlights the extraordinary efforts of public hospitals and health systems and the positive impact their contributions have on patients, hospitals, health systems and the communities they serve.
Marion Scott, MSN, RN, director of the Health Care for the Homeless Program at HCHD, received a Safety Net Award in the category of Reducing Health Care Disparities. Her submission, "Helping Homeless Improve Oral Health Program," was cited for HCHD's commitment to improving access to oral health services for the homeless. As a provider of services to the homeless, this program encourages and enables homeless individuals to access oral health services.
The program's mobile dental unit was the first and remains the only mobile dental unit providing services to homeless people in Harris County. With a 19-year history of providing medical services to this population, the hospital district has gained the trust of this fragile population and has been able to successfully provide an ongoing oral health program that is accessible, continuous and comprehensive.
Since establishing the dental program in 2002, the unit has provided services to more than 4,000 homeless people through more than 10,000 dental encounters. According to Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), HCHD's program over its six-year evaluation through 2008 showed a significantly higher percentage (80-87 percent) of patients receiving basic treatment compared to the Health Disparity Collaborative goal of 60 percent.
Catina Brimmer, PharmD, MBA, director of Quality Assurance and Clinical Programs for HCHD's Department of Pharmacy, received an Honorable Mention Award in the category of Patient Safety. Her submission, "Improving Medication Safety System Wide Program," was recognized for its adoption of a non-punitive program for reporting of medication-related errors. Since the program's inception six years ago, HCHD has seen a steady decline in the number of medication-related patient complaints and severe medication errors.
The goals of the medication safety program were threefold: 1) to decrease the number of medication-related customer complaints, 2) to increase reporting through a non-punitive system and 3) to decrease the number of harmful medication-related incidents.
Scott and Brimmer were recognized at the 2009 Safety Net Awards Ceremony held in conjunction with the NAPH Annual Conference in Seattle, Wash., on June 24.