VA recognizes Beckley VAMC National HeRO Award recipient for safety initiatives, COVID-19 efforts

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it honored Veterans Health Administration (VHA) National HeRO Award recipient Billie Shield from Beckley VA Medical Center for her contributions to VHA’s Journey to High Reliability.

VHA’s enterprise-wide Journey to High Reliability aims to continuously improve its processes by maximizing patient safety and reducing harm to restore trust and ensure every Veteran receives the high-quality care they deserve.

The awardees were recognized for their safety and process improvement initiatives as well as their COVID-19 response efforts to provide the best possible care to Veterans during these challenging times. Their accomplishments include reimagining processes and protocols to adapt to the COVID-19 environment, implementing a blood culture accuracy improvement program, ensuring unique patient identifiers are included on medical imagery, and using 3D printing technology for personal protective equipment.

“I am immensely proud of the work Billie Shields has accomplished,” Beckley VAMC Director Desmond McMullan stated. “COVID-19 has challenged the entire health care community, and even during these unpredictable times, these HeRO Award recipients have dedicated themselves to continuous improvement to ensure VHA delivers the best care possible. Veterans have a champion on their side when it comes to Billie Shields and the entire laboratory team.

As a laboratory technician, Shields went above and beyond by implementing an improvement program to increase the accuracy of blood cultures. Throughout the health care industry, nearly one third of blood cultures have inaccurate false positive results due to contamination, posing a serious cost to systems. As a result of Shields’ actions, the process improved, resulting in significant savings and improving patient care. She also took the time to educate her colleagues on the new procedures.

Each of the nine teams and individuals were nominated by top leadership in one of five categories: Clinical individual from a Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) or facility, non-clinical individual from a VISN or facility, clinical team from a VISN or facility, non-clinical team from a VISN or facility, and individual or team from VHA Central Office.

The National HeRO Award is the highest level of HRO recognition available within VHA and is reserved to honor employees who advance VHA’s Journey to High Reliability through demonstration of VHA’s HRO Principles in Action. The HRO Steering Committee votes quarterly to select one recipient in each category for a National HeRO Award.

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