Teamwork Displayed in SOMC’s ICU

The underlying theme in most service stories told by patients of Southern Ohio Medical Center is teamwork. When employees are asked every year on surveys about the teamwork within their department, most will tell you it’s excellent. In the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), a collaborative effort is not only desired but it’s essential and often complimented.

“I’ve worked for other units at SOMC and I thought the teamwork was incredible but then when I came to the ICU, I was blown away by the way everyone works together,” Eric Bennett, assistant nurse manager of the ICU, said. “I’m a big advocate of teamwork, it can make your shift really great or really bad. You don’t have to tell the staff what to do in the ICU because they are already doing it.”

Bennett and a team of physicians, nurses, EEG technicians, medical techs, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, lab techs and Critical Care physicians called Intensivists recently pulled together when an ICU patient coded. Dr. Jay Turkewitz, a new neurologist at SOMC, was called to the bedside during this particular instance.

This was Bennett’s first interaction with Dr. Turkewitz and he was amazed at the way the physician interacted with the family, explaining everything and genuinely caring for the patient. After his shift, Bennett decided to write Dr. Turkewitz a thank you email and was surprised when he replied.

“I don’t deserve the recognition, the team does,” Dr. Turkewitz said. “From the nurses in the room to the housekeeper who kept the floors from becoming slippery, the collaborative effort was evident.”

Mardi Carter, EEG tech wasn’t surprised when she heard about the email, “I’ve worked at SOMC for 23 years and I see this type of teamwork happen all the time in the ICU,” she said. “The cooperation of the team has aided in saving many lives over the years.”

In November of 2007, the Intensive Care Unit opened its doors to patients’ loved ones 24 hours a day—the only ICU in the region that offers this. “If the family chooses to be present during a code, it greatly decreases anxiety both for the patient and the family,” Christy Aeh, nurse manager of the ICU, said. “Family presence allows loved ones to see the teamwork and effort it takes to provide excellent care for the patient.”

“Many people think they have to travel outside of Portsmouth to receive the best critical care but we have the best technology, a specialized physician for every aspect of the body and we micromanage our patients,” Bennett said. “We have all the things and more that the bigger city hospitals have.”

Bennett explained how several ICU staff members have worked at other hospitals and positively compliment the teamwork shown at SOMC. Unlike most other ICU’s, SOMC has Critical Care Intensivists seven days a week dedicated to the ICU all hours of the day and with on-call coverage during the night hours.

A web camera is used by the Intensivists to check on patients during the night. The critical care physicians also have access to the bedside monitoring devices through their home computers. Nurses in the ICU collaborate with the Intensivists using these tools to enhance the quality of care for their patients.

“I’m excited to be here, SOMC has made excellence a part of its culture,” Dr. Turkewitz said. “The administration chooses to hire physicians and employees who have the ability to strive for excellence in all aspects of service and quality patient care.”