Celebrating the 10th Class of Clinical Quality Fellow Graduates

Twenty-three physicians and six nurses recently completed 15 months of training as the tenth class of health care professionals to participate in the Clinical Quality Fellowship Program (CQFP), sponsored by United Hospital Fund (UHF) and the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA), and celebrated with a culminating dinner on April 18. 

Designed to create the next generation of clinical quality leaders in the New York region, the fellowship includes two retreats, monthly webinars, dinner meetings, individual mentoring, and a capstone quality improvement project developed and led by each Fellow. The program launched in 2009 and has graduated 207 Fellows to date, helping them to develop the skills needed to lead quality improvement and patient safety initiatives at their institutions.

The fellowship’s unique focus teaches techniques to improve patient care and leadership skills, a combination that empowers Fellows to be quality and safety champions. 

The Class 10 fellows attended their culminating dinner at GNYHA, along with program alumni and faculty. They were welcomed by Anthony Shih, MD, MPH, president of UHF, who congratulated the fellows on their accomplishment. Lorraine Ryan, senior vice president of legal, regulatory, and professional affairs at GNYHA reflected on the history of the partnership between GNYHA and UHF in promoting quality initiatives and the unique contributions of the fellowship program.

Rohit Bhalla, MD, MPH
Rohit Bhalla, MD, MPH

Rohit Bhalla, MD, MPH, chair of the program and vice president and chief quality officer of Stamford Health, told the newly-minted quality leaders that they were prepared to assume leadership roles and responsibilities in their organizations, and improve health care quality throughout the region. The fellows each received a certificate attesting to their successful completion of the program.

At the dinner, three of the Fellows from the graduating class presented their capstone projects, which reflected the diversity of clinical backgrounds and variety of quality initiatives undertaken by the fellows. Presentations were made on the following topics:
Improving the process for identification of anemic patients prior to elective surgery
Jeanna Blitz, MD, 
Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology, Medical Director of Pre-Admission Testing 
Tisch Hospital at NYU Langone 

Jeanna Blitz, MD, and children
Jeanna Blitz, MD, and children

This project developed a workflow for the screening of patients for pre-operative anemia prior to elective surgery, initially focusing on patients undergoing spine, gynecologic, or colorectal surgery. Results indicated an increase in the number of patients screened; 45% of patients screened were identified as having iron deficient anemia. 64% of patients who were eligible to receive IV iron completed therapy pre-operatively. Plans are underway to further automate the workflow and expand to other sites in the organization.


Decreasing falls and falls with injury on an inpatient oncology unit using proactive toileting
Lisa Schmutter, RN, BSN, MPA 
Manager Quality and Safety 
NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center

This initiative engaged front line staff to develop and implement a proactive toileting program to reduce falls and fall with injury on an oncology unit which had a high rate of falls as compared to the overall organization. Following the implementation of proactive toileting, both falls and fall with injury rates decreased and remained below the hospital rates, with the intervention unit achieving 153 days “falls free.” Plans to replicate the program on other units are underway.

Lisa Schmutter, RN, BSN, MPA
Lisa Schmutter, RN, BSN, MPA


Decreasing violent behavior on an inpatient psychiatry unit
Nermica Sarcevic, MD 
Director Inpatient Psychiatry 
NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi 

The goal of this project was to achieve a decrease in incidence of violence and injuries to patients and staff by addressing early signs of impending violence. Key to the success of the project was the empowerment and engagement of frontline staff and implementation of interventions focused on the development of tools for improved communication. Post intervention data collection showed a 58% decrease in acts of violence/1000 patient days and a 60% increase in staff satisfaction.

Nermica Sarcevic, MD
Nermica Sarcevic, MD


The celebratory evening ended with an opportunity for fellows, alumni and faculty to network with their peers.

May 20, 2019
Focus Area
Quality and Efficiency
Quality Institute