The Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Iron Mountain, Michigan, is quietly leading its patients to a more restful experience for overnight stays at the hospital.

Visitors to the Iron Mountain VAMC will find “Quiet Zone” signs in hallways and near Veterans’ rooms to remind family members and employees to keep noise levels down. To further enhance a healing environment, inpatient Veterans and Veteran patients in recovery receive “Quiet Kits,” which include an eye mask to block out unwanted light, ear plugs to block out the unavoidable noise of routine activities, lip balm as an extra self-care touch, and a postcard to inform Veterans of the concerted effort to reduce noise and to offer any additional assistance.

The “Quiet Zones and Quiet Kits” project won VA’s 2020 Patient Experience (PX) Innovation Poster Award for process improvement, which recognizes work being done to improve Veterans’ experiences at VA facilities. The Iron Mountain VAMC leadership team encourages continual improvement and development of best practices from employees to achieve the facility’s vision of being “Focused on Excellence—Putting Veterans First.”

This drive for excellence meant Iron Mountain employees weren’t satisfied with consistently scoring above the national average for “Quietness in Hospital Environment” in the Survey of Healthcare Experiences of Patients (SHEP); they wanted an even better environment for their Veterans’ inpatient recovery experience.

“Quiet Zones and Quiet Kits” is a high-impact, low-effort solution, developed from best practices across VA and civilian hospitals.

quiet kits

Once put in place, there was an immediate and sustained positive increase in Iron Mountain VAMC’s “Quietness of Hospital Environment” score. The facility improved by over 10%, from 60% in FY18 to 75% at the end of FY19, which is 18% higher than the national average. While these are an impressive increase in scores, the Iron Mountain VAMC employees focus more on the Veteran experience than the numbers.

“I emphasize that we not make performance scores our quest. When the quest is doing our very best for Veterans, the performance measures results will take care of themselves.”

James Rice, Iron Mountain VAMC Director

Iron Mountain VAMC employees are proud of their accomplishment and are excited to teach other VA hospitals how to implement their own quiet zones through VA’s Veterans Experience Office Patient Experience Community of Practice, a group dedicated to sharing best patient experience practices across the VA health care system.

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