2021 AWARD WINNERS
Benita will go above and beyond to create efficient processes that ensure success and quality care for their patients. Benita led the charge for Duke Homecare & Hospice when participating in the “Commit to Zero” project, and worked strategically alongside quality team colleagues to develop a process that has been implemented across Duke HomeCare, Hospice, and Infusion programs. It is because of her tenacity and hard work that DHCH now has a true collaboration of “all hands-on-deck” to assure patient, employee, volunteer, and organizational safety and viability.
When The Joint Commission charged health care organizations to “Commit to Zero,” Benita volunteered for the Hospice Inpatient Unit to participate in the first phase of the project. As a result of the work Benita put forth, DHCH is huddling daily. Each of the three business lines is monitoring harms, potential harms, and solving the causes to root through the A3 process. While daily huddles are an impressive feat to successfully accomplish when they take place consistently within the walls of a building, it is even more impressive to see it accomplished by hundreds of employees who are caring for nearly 2,000 patients daily. DHCH provides Hospice and Home Health care in nine counties and offers infusion services in a state coverage area: NC, SC, and VA. Approximately 300 employees participate virtually on daily 15-minute huddle calls. The purpose of the calls are to recognize harm events, potential and real, to patients, staff members, and visitors.
The Pandemic preparation was an undertaking felt by all health care leaders across the nation. To say it was mammoth in scale would be an understatement for all members of health care leadership who contributed to and organized meetings and preparations in order to provide a safe working environment. Benita worked tirelessly with the administrative team at DHCH to assure the provision of safe care to our unique patient population during a time of many unknowns. She collaborated with the Hospice Leadership and Management Teams as well as the frontline clinicians, assuring they stayed well informed of the daily, sometimes hourly, changes that needed to occur to maintain a safe working environment. She was the conduit for receiving and relaying the valuable input her team could offer.
Benita developed a plan to convert an existing 12-bed facility into a facility that could potentially house 24 patients. This meant planning for staffing, furniture, supplies, medicine, food, securing off-site housing (if needed), and everything else needed to double the occupancy. She not only did this for the existing 12-bed facility, she also coordinated and planned for a potential re-opening of the currently closed “Meadowlands” facility, an inpatient facility licensed for six patients. This re-opening would have been a pressure relief valve for the Duke University Health System and the COVID+ population. The preparation for the pandemic did not end with Hospice patients who would be treated in inpatient facilities. Benita also coordinated the care provided by staff members delivering care to patients in their private homes and in contracted facilities, and developed processes to ensure safe work environments.
Benita oversees a staff of approximately 85 employees including Nurses, Aides, Social Workers, Chaplains, and Volunteers. And through the daily huddles, she engages with approximately 300 employees. Through Benita’s leadership and stewardship, this is a very successful means of having staff participation and buy-in to the Commit to Zero Harm made by the Duke University Health System. The staff members understand and appreciate that their voices and concerns are heard and are acted upon. DHCH now has a true collaboration of “all hands-on-deck” to assure patient, employee, volunteer, and organizational safety and viability. As a former Joint Commission Field Surveyor for Home Care Programs, I can attest that I did not see one organization performing this work (at this level) in the Home Care arena. One of Benita’s performance goals for the 2020-2021 year is to take this methodology and presentation to the National stage. She is truly a trailblazer.
When individuals at the Hock inpatient facility tested positive for COVID-19, Benita did not hesitate to go and assist in rotating patients in and out of rooms, while she, along with the Assistant Director, cleaned the empty rooms. Neither of the two of them would accept a “thank you” without acknowledging that it was a group effort, and that it could not have been done without the assistance of her teammates. The outbreak ultimately led to the transfer of existing patients to Duke Regional Hospital, the last patient arriving at 2 a.m. During the weekend in which the patients were transferred, Benita was in constant communication with Infectious Disease, Risk Management, Employee Health, DHCH Leadership, and her team. She was also scheduled to take the Nurse Executive Certification Exam on the Saturday, following the patients transferring to DRH. To no one’s surprise, she was successful and earned the certification.
I think she embodies what a Nurse Leader should be and I am incredibly proud to work alongside her and cannot think of anyone who is more deserving of being honored as such.
PhD, MHA, BSN, RN, NE-BC
Director, Duke Hospice
Duke HomeCare & Hospice