Putting the patient experience first through connections with nature

Press Contact:Jenny Swigoda-703.299.4800jswigoda@SamueliInstitute.org

Alexandria, Va. - September  24, 2014

A successful hospital system that is centered around health and well-being begins at the patient-level, and Scott Kashman, chief administrative officer for Cape Coral Hospital, knows this firsthand. The hospital administrator came across Samueli Insitute's Optimal Healing Environments (OHE) framework about 10 years ago at a medical conference and began to think immediately about how the concept could impact his own hospital system. Within the last three years, his vision of employing the OHE framework in his hospital has become a reality and the results he has seen have shocked and amazed him.

Kashman contacted Bonnie Sakallaris, vice president of OHE for Samueli Institute and shortly after he first came across the framework and immediately began forging a plan to integrate the concept within the Cape Coral Hospital system.

“The Optimal Healing Environments provides a framework which incorporates holistic and optimal approaches to care,” said Kashman during a recent visit to Samueli Institute. “It supported our mission to improve the health status of people living in our community and our motto of being ‘caring people, caring for people.’”

Kashman was particularly intrigued with the notion of utilizing physical environments, healthy lifestyles, personal wholeness and healing intention could impact the overall care of the patients. In a hospital system that serves over 12,000 inpatients, close to 7,000 surgeries and over 65,000 patients going through the emergency room every year, this was a tall order. The process began by rolling out a healthier menu at the hospital cafeteria which utilized agriculture from local farmers.

Almost immediately, the Florida-based hospital system saw results.

“We’ve seen a bump in our patient experiences and reductions in length of stay (for patients),” said Kashman.

In addition to the positive feedback from patients, Cape Coral Hospital has also seen financial advantages that can be attributed to the shift towards OHE and using Lean as their process improvement management system. According to Kashman, the operating margin has improved by 10 percent over the last year.

Employees and board members rallied around the concept. When a fundraiser was held for the Pathway to Discovery, funds of $1100 was acquired within the first two hours. In that pathway, patients and hospital employees alike can find peace of mind through connections to nature through a teaching garden that utilizes the medicinal benefits of plants, an employee entryway where employees can take a moment to catch their breath before work and exercise stations throughout the property that can be utilized year-round. The first phase of this project will be completed by the end of this year. To date, the hospital has raised over $250,000 for the pathway, with support stemming from the community, the new Healing Environment business partner, the vice president of patient care services, the board of directors, auxiliary and several members of the staff who have reinforced the vision of this project.

Although Kashman has spearheaded these ideals at his hospital, he credits the support of Sakallaris and Dr. Wayne Jonas, president and CEO of Samueli Institute, for guidance throughout the transition.