Letter from Steve McCormick
A spotlight on Beacon
October 15, 2009
Having come to the Foundation after spending over thirty years working "on the other side" I’ve come to appreciate the unique attributes of being, for the most part, an intermediary and not a direct actor.
One of these attributes is having a vantage point from which to "see" and understand a full field or sector, and from this vantage point to help connect key actors and institutions to enable them to seek synergies and collaboration; to optimize complementarities; and to share knowledge. To be sure, this connecting and convening doesn’t always pay off, but when it does it can lead to results well beyond the sum of organizations working separately, and even competitively. We’ve seen a particularly inspiring example – a truly life-saving example – in our Betty Irene Moore Nursing Initiative.
In 2005, the Foundation supported the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California, in partnership with Convergence Health Consulting, to launch Beacon, the Bay Area Patient Safety Collaborative. Beacon created a first-ever peer-to-peer forum for all hospitals in the five-county San Francisco Bay Area to share best practices, lessons learned (from not-so-best practices) and to support one another in Beacon’s mission of improving patient outcomes.
Reflecting our values, Beacon is focused on achieving significant, demonstrable impact, and creating enduring change. The approach is disciplined, evidence-based and data-driven. Each participating hospital commits to demonstrating the achievement of quantitative patient outcomes by implementing proven best practices. Hospitals frequently compete for patients, staff, and other resources, but Beacon creates a neutral and supportive forum for hospital administrators, physicians, front-line nurses, and quality directors to work towards shared goals in improving patient safety and quality of care.
One recent example: at a meeting in late 2008, O’Connor hospital in San Jose presented the details of a successful campaign to reduce sepsis mortality at the hospital (sepsis is a serious, often life-threatening illness in which the bloodstream is overwhelmed by bacteria). Participants from Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center embraced the idea, incorporating a similar campaign into their efforts to reduce sepsis mortality.
Overall, the results so far have been impressive. Hospitals participating in the collaborative are reporting demonstrable improvements in patient safety, in such things as ventilator-associated pneumonia cases and central line-associated bloodstream infections, which are infections associated with IV lines inserted into large veins. (In both cases, over half the participating facilities have reached and are maintaining a zero infection rate.) Beacon is saving lives.
To read more about Beacon, go to www.beaconcollaborative.org. For more information on the Betty Irene Moore Nursing Initiative, including the findings and recommendations from a recent external evaluation, go to http://www.moore.org/nursing.aspx.
As I highlighted in my last quarterly communication, we adopted a new set of values earlier this year, one of which is to "collaborate with respect and purpose." Therefore, we are now committed, in every one of our program areas, to help create connections and engagements within the communities of grantees we support financially in hopes that such interactions will lead to the kinds of results we’ve seen with Beacon.
Steven J. McCormick
President, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation