por Sean Ruck
, Contributing Editor | February 16, 2015
From the January/February issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
HealthCare Business News spoke with SGNA president, Colleen Keith, about her background and the society’s role in the future of health care.
Colleen Keith started her health care career in infection prevention in the U.S. Air Force — she was in a regional hospital in the U.S. From there, she went on to nursing school and was a critical care nurse for a number of years before specializing in gastroenterology. She is now the director of surgical services and ambulatory services at The King’s Daughters’ Hospital and Health Service.
HCBN: What attracted you to SGNA?
Well, I began working in the GI specialty and I am working in a small community hospital. So what attracted me were the available resources to help me determine the standards of care to provide at my own hospital. I also appreciate the networking with other GI nurses and the chance to exchange knowledge.
HCBN: What is your platform as society president?
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My catchphrase — that we step forward and connect with our GI community. The essence of that is to develop working relationships within the team — our patients, our families, our community. And also, taking a step beyond that and connecting globally with international GI societies.
HCBN: What are the biggest challenges facing your membership today?
I think the main thing is the moving targets that we have in health care as far as policies and regulations. It can be hard to determine where reimbursements are and where regulations are for CMS and Medicare. I guess the largest challenge in health care, in general, is having to do more with less.
HCBN: What has been big news for the society over the past 12 months?
We’ve done so much. One of the big things was to update our nursing sedation website information. So we have a new website for that which has been huge. Another thing our members have asked us to do was to create education and a mentoring programs for new GI nurses, and we rolled those out this year. And then we have our infection prevention champion program. It’s about infection prevention and scope cleaning and different infection prevention practices. Currently, we have recognized 156 champions who ensure patient safety.
HCBN: Do gastroenterology and endoscopy nurses focus just on those areas or is that one of the many hats they wear?
It depends on the size of the institution you’re at — you’re the GI, Endo nurse at a small facility maybe. But nurses tend to gravitate to one special area.
HCBN: How is membership doing?
Increasing every year. It is currently over 8,000 strong. To increase membership we work to provide the services our members need to stay within the society. We need to provide them with what they need and we listen to what they want. One of the things within the mission of SGNA — we provide the standards to everyone. Anyone can go online and get our guidelines — cleaning and reprocessing an endoscope properly, for example.
HCBN: You were involved in developing the GI unit at your own hospital. How did that project come about?
The administration decided they needed a dedicated GI unit and I had worked in a fairly large family practice and had done some endoscopy, so it was kind of a match when I came to the hospital.
HCBN: How long did it take to get the GI unit fully operational?
About six months.
HCBN: What were the big challenges?
Finding the space for it. We’re a hospital that’s 114 years old, so room is hard to come by. And then there was the challenge of finding staffing. We had one LPN that had assisted with endoscopy before I got there, so that was a start.
HCBN: How challenging is it for gastroenterology and endoscopy nurses to keep their knowledge current?
I think it’s ever-changing, insofar as the technology is ever-changing with our instrumentation and our technology we use within the society. There are also so many new GI drugs out, to care for our patients. So it’s a challenge to keep current, but it’s a necessity.