Mary Wicks R.N. has been instrumental in several major initiatives at the University of Rochester Medical Center that improve the quality and effectiveness of patient care.
Wicks is associate director of critical care and emergency nursing at URMC. Under her direction, its critical-care units have made tremendous strides in standardizing nursing care and developing patient care protocols.
Wicks’ efforts to adopt a standardized protocol to help prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia in critically ill patients at URMC have nearly eliminated the illness at the hospital. To achieve this, she worked with the nursing staff to implement the ventilator "bundle" of practices, which includes oral hygiene, elevation of the head of the bed and sedation interruption.
Her work in this area was recognized by the Healthcare Association of New York State. HANYS later asked her to help develop training programs for other hospitals.
In another initiative dealing with critically ill patients, Wicks was instrumental in the success of reducing bloodstream infections associated with central lines. She led the charge to standardize the maintenance of central lines and developed an online educational program to increase staff awareness of the importance of maintenance protocols.
Since the program began, central line infection rates for critical-care patients in each of the adult ICUs have fallen below the national average.
Wicks has long been a champion of patient- and family-centered care. Five years ago, in an effort to identify ways to improve comfort and satisfaction, she started surveying patients and families about their experiences in the critical-care areas at URMC.
Survey information was used to design family-friendly rooms during URMC’s critical-care renovation project. Family members now are able to stay close to a patient while still having their own accommodations.
Another result of the survey was extended visiting hours. Wicks worked with the medical director and nurses to solve logistical issues and security concerns. As a result, the new visitor policy allows for 24-hour visitation in each critical-care unit.
Wicks understands the importance of families in the healing process. Extended hours allow families to help plan and deliver patient care.
Wicks also directed the development of a family support group in the burn/trauma intensive-care unit. This innovative program has been cited nationally as a model program for families dealing with the impact of traumatic injuries to their loved ones.
Wicks has been instrumental in implementing the healthy work environment, a program through the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. The program is designed to improve the work environment for critical-care nurses through better communication and collaboration, effective decision-making, appropriate staffing, recognition and effective leadership.
As a result, staff satisfaction is high and leads to higher quality of nursing care and patient safety, colleagues say.
Under Wicks’ leadership, both the cardiovascular and surgical intensive-care units have received the Beacon Award for Excellence. Granted by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, the award recognizes units that provide exceptional care as measured by improved outcomes, greater collaboration and lower turnover.
Her latest endeavor is encouraging staff through the challenging rollout of URMC’s electronic medication record, an electronic recordkeeping system. ï®
Lynette Haaland is a freelance writer and a former Rochester Business Journal reporter.
3/18/11 (c) 2011 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail [email protected].