Chief Medical Officer of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston honored with safety and quality award

The Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) honored Lakshmi Halasyamani, MD, chief medical officer of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston, with the 2013 MHA Keystone Center for Patient Safety & Quality Leadership Award for her innovative and steadfast leadership in the midst of an unprecedented fungal infection outbreak.

The MHA award recognizes individuals whose contributions to patient safety and quality improvement transcend the bounds of their own hospital or health system.  Halasyamani received the award in the category of clinician leadership at the 2013 MHA Patient Safety and Quality Symposium on April 25.

Starting in October 2012, Halasyamani led St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor’s massive response to the largest-ever U.S. outbreak of fungal meningitis and associated infections.  The hospital has treated 193 fungal infection patients – more than any other hospital in the country – making Halasyamani’s expertise and passion around patient safety and excellence crucial.

“From the beginning of the fungal infection crisis, Dr. Lakshmi Halasyamani orchestrated our response in a remarkable manner,” says Thomas Shehab, MD, Chief of Staff, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor. “Our team was not paralyzed by uncertainty but instead worked together to address a rare illness with no clear treatment guidelines.  St. Joe’s physicians have become one of the leading experts in the country setting the standards of care for this group of patients.”

Although none of the tainted injections were given at a Saint Joseph Mercy Health System facility, Halasyamani established solutions to address the public health disaster, such as opening a fungal outpatient center to provide ongoing care management for affected patients, and coordinating MRIs for every Michigan patient who had received potentially contaminated injections. She partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in developing guidelines, reached out to area experts to provide additional services, and collaborated with clinicians on treatment recommendations.

“Lakshmi has a passion for excellence, an uncanny ability to bring people together toward a common direction, a relentless focus on service, and an enthusiasm to share knowledge with the medical community,” said Rob Casalou, president and CEO, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston. “These attributes were admirably demonstrated during the fungal infection crisis.  We are blessed to have her leadership within our health care ministry.”

Halasyamani joined Saint Joseph Mercy Health System in 2000 and elevated patient safety and quality as guiding principles in a patient-centered model of care delivery. Transparency, communication, honesty and evidence-based clinical benchmarks are embedded behaviors of the medical staff.

She has appointed physician leads on each clinical unit who make routine safety rounds, complemented by clinical nurse leaders and safety ambassadors who focus on quality and safety improvements. A collaborative practice team of physicians, nurses and staff works to improve every clinical data point the hospitals track.

“The MHA and its member hospitals are committed to improving health care quality and safety for the patients they serve,” said MHA President Spencer Johnson. “To do so requires patient safety champions to lead in creating a culture of safety and implementing procedures to improve quality. Dr. Lakshmi Halayamani is helping to make Michigan a nationwide leader in this area.”

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