Emergency Departments at Ascension Via Christi Receive Vituity’s Practice of the Year Award

Published October 10, 2023

With excellent patient care as their highest priority, these teams have built a culture based on best practices and collaboration to improve the experience of both patients and clinicians.


Emeryville, Calif. (October 6, 2023) – At the annual Vituity Partnership Meeting, four emergency departments (EDs) from Ascension Via Christi were recognized as Practice of the Year for improving the quality of care for patients and the experience of clinicians at work through collaboration and reflective practices.

The St. Francis, St. Joseph, St. Teresa, and Wellington EDs serve thousands of patients throughout Kansas from both urban and rural populations. Over the last several years, each site has done its part to implement initiatives and collaboratives to improve outcomes with an emphasis on patient feedback and productivity. Examples include utilizing Team Discharge to help improve ED throughput, participating in the EPI collaborative to make restraint utilization near zero, and implementing eQI to improve patient experience scores.

When it comes to making an impact, Via Christi’s EDs recognize that change starts at the top. St. Francis Medical Director Howard Chang, MD, recently established a Daily Department Huddle where emergency medicine clinicians use time during shift changes to educate nurses on hot topics. This tactic is now recognized as a best practice at Ascension and is being rolled out nationally at multiple other emergency departments within the health system.

Chang has also helped to lead a system-wide patient callback program that has already demonstrated its value. “We recently treated a pediatric patient with a viral upper respiratory infection,” says Chang. “During the callback, Dr. Trevor Mattox determined that the patient had an apparent life-threatening event and needed to be admitted. These callbacks can save lives and help ensure the best possible outcomes from our providers.”

Clinical leadership at all four sites is working hard to prioritize patient care. St. Teresa Assistant Medical Director Ben Khuc, DO, worked closely with Vituity’s patient experience team, participating in the Patient Experience boot camp and facilitating shadow/leader rounding and EQI to improve patient experience scores. At St. Joseph’s, where mental health boarding has been a prominent issue, Medical Director Matt Sinnwell and Assistant Medical Directors Ben Khuc, DO, and Josh Davis, MD, have developed a front-end process and chair lobby to decrease turnaround time to discharge from more than 200 minutes to 150, a critical improvement for a department that has only a few beds to treat 100 patients per day.

“What these departments are doing is building a culture where clinicians are constantly reflecting on their practices to ensure that patients are getting the best care possible,” says Gregg Miller, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Vituity. “These four EDs are working together to recognize voids in patient care and implementing new programs and policies to improve outcomes.”

This focus on outstanding care is not reserved for Via Christi’s largest EDs. The leadership team at Wellington, their smallest ED, has spent the last two years working hard to keep the rural hospital open so that community members can access care. Wellington’s Medical Director, Tiffini Battiste, MD, has developed relationships with city leaders and grassroots advocacy programs to keep it open and in business.

“The work being done at Wellington demonstrates Via Christi’s dedication to quality care for all,” says Miller. “Vituity is proud to recognize the accomplishments of these departments, leaders, and clinicians as they pave the way for better patient experiences and outcomes and set a sterling example to inspire other teams to be the best.”

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For nearly 50 years, Vituity has been a catalyst for positive change in healthcare. As a physician-led and -owned multispecialty partnership with a nationwide footprint, 5,000 Vituity clinicians working across nine acute care specialties care for more than 8.7 million patients annually.

Vituity’s acute focus and compassionate care are the driving forces that place us at the heart of better care. Our clinicians and practice management leaders develop front-line solutions for healthcare challenges that improve quality and have a direct, positive impact on millions of lives nationwide.

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