The Why Behind Our Work: Serving Iowa’s Veterans

Partner Feature: The Iowa Veterans Home

The Iowa Veterans Home

The Iowa Veterans Home, located in Marshalltown, IA, serves Iowa veterans and their spouses through nursing and residential care. The 400+ bed facility spans 150 acres and serves around 500 veterans, making it one of the largest state-run veterans homes in the country. Telligen, Iowa’s Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO), supports the Iowa Veterans Home in their quality improvement efforts. Telligen recently sat down with two employees from the Iowa Veterans Home to hear how they have focused on improving quality.

Andrea Maher is a registered dietician with a passion for working with older adults. She grew an interest in quality improvement work and, three years ago, she was promoted to Quality Management Director at the Iowa Veterans Home. As Maher stepped into her new role, she leaned on Telligen’s quality improvement support and enhanced technical assistance. She attended Telligen’s live trainings on root cause analysis (RCA) and the plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycle, which built a foundation for her quality improvement knowledge. When Maher worked on an infection prevention and control project, she utilized the RCA method along with Telligen tools such as the Fishbone Diagram and Quality Improvement Initiative (QII) PDSA Worksheet.

Penny Cutler-Bermudez, Administrator at the Iowa Veterans Home, recognizes the value of having a dedicated quality director. “We’re fortunate to have a quality director who can really dig into the tools that Telligen offers and guide and direct our whole administrative team. I’m so fortunate to have Andrea building those processes and guiding our quality team every month.” Cutler-Bermudez recalls working with Telligen at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The partnership was so valuable to us, to have that support of people who were available at a moment’s notice to help us walk through what we could do to ensure quality care for our residents – and in a time that was different than any of us had experienced before.”

I found Telligen to be kind of a hidden gem for interdisciplinary team members. I readily share the Telligen website and resources with my peers.

– Andrea Maher

Telligen’s enhanced technical assistance includes data analysis, including utilizing data to tell a story and improving publicly reported quality measures. Both Maher and Cutler-Bermudez rely on data to drive quality goals at Iowa Veterans Home. Their Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement (QAPI) program has grown to encompass 40 different areas of the facility and reviews data monthly to identify problem-prone and high-risk areas. The Iowa Veterans Home uses data to recognize potential growth and determine what changes will drive them in a positive direction. “Over the last five years, I can say that our focus has changed to quality driven initiatives where we’ve gathered data and used that data to make changes,” Cutler-Bermudez states.

In addition to a yearly state survey, the Iowa Veterans Home is regulated by the Veteran’s Association. Despite having more oversight, the Iowa Veterans Home is proud to boast deficiency-free surveys in recent years. Maher believes that this success is due to demonstrating their knowledge in quality and sharing projects that the Iowa Veterans Home is actively working on through their QAPI program. “We have very high standards to care for the state’s veterans and their spouses. We’re proud of the care we deliver, and it’s driven by those quality initiatives,” said Cutler-Bermudez.

Watch the full interviews with Andrea Maher and Penny Cutler-Bermudez:

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