Date: 10/17/2008

Society of Innovators announces Community Healthcare System as 2008 Chanute Prize recipient

The Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana has honored Community Healthcare System hospitals as part of its “Class of Innovators” at the Fourth Annual Innovation Awards and Induction ceremony Oct. 16. Tapped for the Chanute Prize for Team Innovation, Community Healthcare System hospitals: Community Hospital in Munster; St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart have been selected for the “Breast Care: Same-Day Results” project.

“Selection is based upon nominees meeting the Society’s criteria for individual and project team innovations,” said John Davies, managing director, Society of Innovators. “This consists of an individual or team introducing new and different ideas that are implemented and benefit the quality of Life of Northwest Indiana.”

Community Healthcare System’s “Breast Care: Same Day Results” project consists of a fast-track system to advise women of the results of their screening mammograms within the same visit and should a non-surgical biopsy be required, know the results the same day the test is performed. The “Same-Day Results” program now spans all three Community Healthcare System facilities/Women’s Diagnostic Centers.

“Innovative approaches to care, an investment in new technology and the validation of scientific process changes have eliminated much of the “anxious agony” women endure while waiting for results,” said Brenda Eriksen, M.D., medical director of Pathology for Community Healthcare System.

Breast Cancer is a woman’s worst fear. Worry sets in the minute she receives the phone call regarding an abnormal mammogram. A second mammogram is scheduled - more waiting, more anxiety. After two abnormal mammograms, an appointment with a surgeon and a biopsy — an agonizing process that could take up to a month.

“It is no great comfort to know that 80 percent of biopsies are benign — it’s the 20 percent that worry women,” said Mary Nicholson, M.D., medical director of Radiology for Community Healthcare System and one of the project’s champions who advocated for same-day readings. “This process used by nearly every hospital in America was putting women through unnecessary worry and stress. We didn’t want this for the women of our community.”

With an investment in new technology and a change in work processes, physicians operating across the three hospitals can often read the mammogram before the woman even left the diagnostic center. Results for about 80 percent of screening mammogram performed at the three hospitals are delivered during that visit, with the remainder communicated to patients on the next business day. This quick turnaround time enables physicians to discuss the findings with women and immediately schedule follow-up testing.

In the laboratory, the challenge to delivered same-day results led technicians to examine tissue processing methods, spending months validating the science behind these alternatives. The laboratory also worked cooperatively with their couriers who brought tissues samples to one central location and to a group of physicians who agreed to be available to examined the tissue samples and interpret the results by the end of the day. As a result, about 80 percent of women who undergo non-surgical breast biopsies at one of the three hospitals will know by the end of the day whether they have cancer or not. For samples received after 1 pm in the afternoon, the results are communicated the next day.

“What these innovations have also enabled us to do is help women more quickly move through that critical window of opportunity — the time between diagnosis and treatment,” said Dr. Eriksen. “By helping women navigate through the system faster, we can get women into treatment sooner, giving them every advantage possible to survive breast cancer.”

The nomination was endorsed by Mayo Medical Laboratories, citing that “institutions around the country, including Mayo Clinic, can learn a great deal from this committed team.” This award is sponsored by Krieg DeVault consists of the Chanute “traveling trophy,” a permanent plaque, and a $500 gift toward a charity.

“I am very proud to work with a group of people who are inspired to find a better way, willing to challenge the status quo and prepared to back ideas with the hard work and persistence needed to make change possible,” said John Gorski, Senior Vice President of Hospital Operations for the Community Healthcare System.

The Chanute Prize recipient was selected from 16 project teams to be inducted into the Society. These project teams are: ArcelorMittal R&D Global Team; Bird-Brain Brother Birdhouses; Chanute Aquatorium Society; Team Community Healthcare System; EDIS; Edgewater Systems; Great Lakes/St. Lawrence River Water Resources Compact Team; The Hilltop Partnership for Families; I Need a Hug Program; VU Softball Team & United Way Regional Volunteer Center; Kozy Team; Lundquist CNG Race Team; Portage Lakefront Park & Riverwalk; Promoting Summer Writing for Kids; Reading Specialists; Structured Learning Staff; Sucromalt Operations Team, Cargill; and Whiting Shared Services.

The Society was launched by Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana Northwest and its partners in 2005. Sponsors of the Society are Ivy Tech NW, ArcelorMittal; The Times, Krieg DeVault, Horseshoe Casino, Bukva Imaging Group, and the Center of Workforce Innovations.