Tim Heitzig, Amy Knox and Ted Rogalski stand on a stage holding a plaque

Tim Heitzig, Manager of Rehabilitation at Lincoln Memorial Hospital (right), Amy Knox, Lead Physical Therapist at Lincoln Memorial Hospital and Ted Rogalski, Administrator at Genesis Medical Center, Aledo, and 2023 ICAHN Board President

The Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network (ICAHN) announced its 2023 “Community Project” winners, including Lincoln Memorial Hospital, for their Swing Bed Outcomes Improvement Project during the organization’s 20th Anniversary Annual Conference held November 28 and 29 at the I-Hotel and Conference Center, Champaign.

They are joined in this honor with Jersey Community Hospital District, Jerseyville, for their CARES Consortium Re-Vitalization Project.

The Community Award showcases ICAHN member hospitals that initiated a new approach to improve patient relationships and care, implemented a new process flow or life-safety improvement, found a creative way to motivate and inspire staff, and improved the well-being of staff or patients.

The goal of this project was to provide the highest quality of care to Lincoln’s swing bed patients. A swing bed unit is a where a critical access hospital provides short-term, skilled nursing care. The goal for patients in a swing bed unit is to become as independent as possible before they are discharged.

This program was developed to improve swing bed mobility scores after receiving a performance outcome report. Originally, their mobility score was 8.2 percent, which fell below the 35.7 percent national median. Mobility scores are based on how well a patient can walk various distances, navigate stairs and uneven surfaces, balance, and transfer to and from various objects.

Lincoln Memorial Hospital administrators saw the need for improvement in their mobility scores and sanctioned a Lean Six Sigma quality improvement team. Amy Knox, Senior Physical Therapist, and certified Lean Six Sigma Greenbelt, lead the team. Lean Six Sigma is an approach that involves collaborative team effort to systemically eliminate wasteful operations.

Under Knox’s leadership, the interdisciplinary team was able to collaborate and communicate to help focus on mobility in-between physical rehabilitation sessions. The team was also able to purchase new, mobility-related equipment, such as a car simulator to work on transferring in and out of a vehicle.

Because of their hard work and dedication to providing high-quality patient care, Lincoln’s mobility score has improved from 8.2 percent to 89.5 percent, now exceeding the national median of 35.7 percent.

“These improvements better position the patient for a safe discharge to their preferred home setting,” said Dolan Dalpoas, CEO of Lincoln Memorial Hospital.

The hospital staff has seen a large increase in communication between the rehabilitation and nursing teams, and an overall boost in morale.

Located in Princeton, IL, ICAHN is a network of 59 small, rural hospitals dedicated to strengthening the operations of its member hospitals through collaboration. The organization is composed of Illinois hospitals who have earned critical access hospital designation by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and is recognized nationally for