Smithfield Herald

Hospital names ambassador

Most days, Vera Barnes pores over patient charts, abstracting information that will show whether Johnston Health is providing care based on best practices. But of late, the quality-improvement specialist has been getting out of her basement office to promote one of those best practices.

She and the location consultant for Johnston Health have been visiting the offices of OB/GYN and primary-care doctors to encourage and support their efforts in educating their patients about the benefits of breastfeeding.

Barnes is responsible for gleaning the hospital’s data on heart attack, stroke and blood clots. But she also measures the hospital’s success at getting mothers to breastfeed. Recently, her work in that area and others earned her recognition as a Johnston Health Ambassador.

The Ambassador program recognizes employees who go above and beyond the call of duty. Among other things, the honorees receive eight hours of paid time off and a personalized parking sign.

During a presentation, Chuck Elliott, chief executive and president of Johnston Health, praised Barnes’ work in sharing best-practice guidelines with physicians and leaders of the hospital’s birthing center.

For most of her nursing career, Barnes has worked in endoscopy. She started at then Johnston Memorial Hospital in 1988 before switching to outpatient endoscopy centers in Goldsboro and Smithfield from 1993 until 2012.

In October 2012, she began working one day a week in the quality department at the hospital, then accepted a full-time job in February.

Barnes says she’s always been involved in some aspect of quality. Before there were core measures, she did quality studies with Joyce Lassiter, who was then head of nursing at Johnston Memorial. At other jobs, she’s monitored post-procedure complications, scope reprocessing, procedure wait times, chart review and patient satisfaction.

“I like quality because it provides a system for measuring our performance and showing areas where we may improve,” she said. “After focusing on endoscopy for so many years, it’s interesting to read through charts with a variety of diagnoses.”

Barnes and her husband, Mark, live in Smithfield and have two grown daughters.