Critical Path Network

Planetree model focuses on entire person

Staff partner with patients to answer

In the Planetree model, staff don't treat patients like they'd want to be treated. Instead, they find out how the patient wants to be treated, says Linda Sharkey, RN, MSN, vice president of patient care services and chief nurse executive at Fauquier Hospital.

"The way we want to be treated and how a patient wants to be treated could be completely different. We provide an individual approach to our patients and try to find out early in the stay what is important to them," Sharkey says.

Fauquier Hospital, located in Warrenton, VA, is a Planetree-designated patient-centered hospital.

The staff at Fauquier look beyond the problems that are being treated in the hospital and try to help decrease the patient's anxiety by doing whatever they can to help the patient remain calm and relaxed, Sharkey says.

"We take care of the entire person and partner with the patient to resolve all their concerns so they can concentrate on healing," she says.

For instance, an elderly couple driving through the area from New York to Florida was involved in an automobile accident. The husband ended up in the intensive care unit. The wife suffered from dementia and couldn't stay in a motel alone.

"His biggest concern was her, and he was her biggest concern," says Pat Gerbracht, BSN, MA, CRA, director of case management and social work.

The hospital moved another bed into his intensive care room so the wife could be with her husband. The ICU nurses took care of her as if she were a patient, helping her shower every day, providing her meals, and sending her clothes to the laundry.

"We took care of the woman until her family could get here at no extra charge. We cared for her as if she was our family member instead of his," Gerbracht says.

In another instance, a man having outpatient surgery brought along his puppy, and his wife planned to stay in the car with the dog during surgery.

When the surgery was delayed, the nursing staff took a sandwich to the wife as well a bowl of water for the puppy.

The hospital encourages patients to have a care partner, a family member or someone else they trust, who can be present when the physician, the case manager, or the social worker talks with the patient.

"The care partner is another set of eyes and ears. When patients are sick and anxious, they may not remember everything they're told or remember what questions they wanted to ask. The care partner can remind them and can reinforce the treatment plan once the patient gets home," she says.

All of the rooms in the hospital are private, with in-room beds for overnight visitors. The hospital has open visiting hours, allowing loved ones to visit whenever they like. The hospital's open-chart policy encourages patients to understand and take part in their own care.

In addition to the traditional therapies, the hospital offers relaxation therapies such as massage and Reiki energy and visits by trained pet therapy dogs for patients who want them.

"I've seen the Reiki therapists take away patient pain by redirecting energy from them. We offer this to our infusion patients, especially those getting chemotherapy to help take the fear away. We're beginning to offer it in labor and delivery as well," Sharkey says.

Patients may order meals from a food service menu of the hospital's Bistro restaurant and have them delivered when they want them, on their own schedule.

The hospital's patient concierge takes care of any patients needs, including making hotel reservations for out-of town patients, arranging for hot cocoa and cookies or even a glass of sherry at bedtime, celebrating patient birthdays, and providing flowers in a bud vase to cheer patients.

A network of volunteer chaplains addresses the patients' spiritual needs and visit with patients who would like company.

The staff are expected to show people the way to their destination rather than pointing out the way. Each staff member also is responsible for what the hospital calls "service recovery." For instance, when a patient's appointment is mixed up and he or she has to return, the staff give the patient a gas card to compensate for the inconvenience.

"All the staff are responsible for making sure the patient has the kind of experience that shows that we appreciate the opportunity to care for the patient rather than thinking the patient is lucky that we're here for them," Sharkey says.