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Hospital may set path for Valley Health sepsis care

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Dr. T. Glen Bouder talks about the intensive care unit at Winchester Medical Center during the Valley Health Corporation’s semi-annual meeting Tuesday. Alex Bridges/Daily

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- Doctors with the region's biggest healthcare provider want to make patient treatment equal across the hospital network.

Physicians at Warren Memorial Hospital started with how they treat patients suffering from sepsis or blood infection, doctors reported Tuesday at Valley Health's semi-annual corporation meeting. The project continues through this year and doctors and staff set a goal of making their approach system-wide.

Dr. Robert C. Meltvedt Jr. explained that such an infection has a high mortality rate and those people suffering from septic shock "have a significant chance of not getting out of that hospital." Doctors at the Warren County hospital found they could improve how they treat septic patients. The current state of treatment at the time appeared more variable and based on individual patients which could affect time -- an important factor in the outcome.

"It turns out that when you look at the variability and the individuality and the complexity of all this, it's outside the range of where it should be with regards to the patients," Meltvedt said. "Too many people don't get the fluids they need fast enough; they don't get the diagnosis they need fast enough. We want to change that. We want to raise the bar."

The approach to improved treatment involved the use of "evidence-based care," a standard set of protocols and a collaborative team effort, Meltvedt said. The team included Meltvedt and several other doctors and staff as resources.

"We're building a team approach across departments, across the system," Meltvedt said.

Hospital workers have developed a committee to further address how to integrate the approach used at WMH into the rest of Valley Health's medical facilities.

"We want to raise the bar so that everybody is gonna get the best care," Meltvedt added.

Valley Health officials are looking at how Warren Memorial Hospital treats sepsis and the integration into the system as a blueprint for how the medical network aligns other approaches to handling illness.

"It really is one of the first initiatives that we are going to try to spread across all six hospitals in Valley Health," WMH President Patrick Nolan said after the meeting. "So if you're a sepsis patient, you come to War Memorial ... or Page Memorial or Winchester Medical Center, that you know you're going to have the same protocol and you're going to have the same treatment level so that's consistency across so that we don't have providing care differently and negatively impact the patient."

The corporation meeting also included recognition for three veteran members of the Valley Health's board of trustees who plan to retire after more than 25 years of service.

Chairman F. Dixon Whitworth Jr. in June concludes 22-years on the governing bodies for Valley Health and Winchester Medical Center. Whitworth, a Front Royal native who holds degrees in business and law, joined Winchester Medical Center's board of directors in 1991. Whitworth plans to continue to serve as a member of the Valley Health Corporation.

John S. Scully IV, of Winchester, served on the boards for WMC and Valley Health since 1987, according to information provided by hospital network. Scully, who has a background in real estate, is credited with helping to plan and guide Valley Health's expansion across the region.

James R. Wilkins Jr., also of Winchester and active in civic groups, received honors for 31 years of service on the WMC Board of Trustees. Wilkins also is credited with overseeing Valley Health's acquisition of properties over the years which paved the way for expansion.

The corporation also recognized two honorary members, Benjamin B. Dutton and Dr. George L. Sheppard Jr., who died recently. Dr. Gerald J. Bechamps and Joseph E. Kalbach received honorary member status.

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