There have been many exciting changes at Blue Mountain Hospital District over the past two years.

Developing an Education Department was a big one. Continuing education is very important to the administration and staff of Blue Mountain Hospital District. During the past two years, the hospital has made a significant investment to ensure that staff is up to date with latest evidence-based practices and that skills are continually updated and improved upon.

As part of this investment, the district hired a clinical education director in 2017. Nurse Debbie Morris had been working as a clinical education program coordinator at Logan Regional Hospital in Logan, Utah, prior to relocating here.

In 2017, Blue Mountain Hospital District held its first ever Nurse Residency Program for nurses who were newly graduated or had not worked at least a year in the acute care setting. The program included classroom time, clinical rotations with a mentor and simulated experiences. Three nurses graduated from the program.

The district also invested in a learning management system to track learning and certifications along with assigning online learning. Several web-based educational libraries were purchased from which the staff are assigned training. The hospital recently purchased an online clinical reference center that will benefit all clinical staff as the latest evidence-based practices and research will be available on any medical topic.

Aside from the computer training, the clinical staff has practiced mock codes and delivering effective CPR to a manikin that gives feedback on performance. The Blue Mountain Healthcare Foundation, along with a grant from the Oregon Office of Rural Health, purchased a mid-fidelity manikin that can breathe, has an audible heartbeat and rhythm, can be connected to a heart monitor, has the ability to say a few words and is able to cough, moan and make vomiting sounds. The nursing staff has participated in skills days to practice various procedures and become familiar with new equipment. We recently held an obstetrics simulated experience with the obstetrics staff and operating room crew and practiced an emergency C-section. Nursing and medical staff feel these experiences really help prepare for real emergencies.

There have been many other learning opportunities held in our hospital such as trauma nurse certification, neonatal resuscitation, advanced cardiac life support, pediatric advanced life support, trauma-informed care and a rural trauma team development course from Oregon Health & Science University. AirLink from St. Charles Medical Center created a pediatric trauma simulation in which our staff participated last year. Additional training in labor and delivery was arranged for Blue Mountain district nurses at St. Charles in Bend. Some of the nurses and physicians have also attended an advanced life support obstetrics course in Boise, Idaho.

The district has joined a National Pediatric Readiness Collaborative, working with hospitals across the nation, to improve the quality of pediatric care. The district recently received a grant from the Oregon Office of Rural Health and the Idaho Simulation Network to host a trauma simulation this spring. This experience will involve emergency medical services staff, possibly air ambulance, the local emergency department, ancillary staff and medical providers.

Blue Mountain Hospital District is working hard to improve the patient experience and has formed a committee to look at changes that can be made to make a patient’s hospital experience be excellent. The district recently won another award for an in-depth program called “Everyone’s a Caregiver” that will educate staff on ways to increase patient satisfaction.

The clinical and non-clinical staff members have been engaged and enthusiastic about the many educational opportunities. There have been many great changes, and the district looks forward to many more in the near future.

Debbie Morris, BSN, RN, is the clinical education director for Blue Mountain Hospital District.

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