Nurse Manager Jamie Hughes Aces an Epic Undertaking

UVA Today is highlighting the winners of the 2011 Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contribution Awards. Today: Jamie Hughes of the Health System. To see all of the stories, click here.

June 6, 2011 — It was, as one person put it with perhaps only a slight bit of hyperbole, "arguably the most expensive and complicated project U.Va. has ever undertaken": The conversion of the entire University of Virginia Health System to a new electronic medical record system.

The new system would "go live" in all of the Health System's ambulatory clinics in September, then in the Cancer Center in December, and finally for all inpatients in March. The switch would affect thousands of employees and every patient the Health System serves.

And Jamie Hughes was at the center of it all.

A respected nurse manager, she was elevated to project director for the conversion just before the first go-live date, which was "the largest simultaneous implementation of this software in the country," according to Dr. Daniel F. McCarter, associate chief medical officer of ambulatory services.

There were glitches, and even some chaos. But as McCarter put it, "Whenever a problem arose, Jamie seemed to be there to help. Even when there were some quite large issues, she was there in front responding to changing conditions and remaining positive."

Her leadership earned her a 2011 Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contribution Award, but to read the eight letters endorsing her nomination, one would think that award would only be the first step toward canonization. Over and over, her supporters marveled at her calm in the face of adversity, her sense of humor and her tireless presence, her professionalism and focus on serving patients.

"When others around her are understandably flummoxed, Jamie forges ahead with a solution, bringing people together, getting the job done," wrote Holly Hintz, director of nursing governance programs.

"I particularly appreciated Jamie's leadership during the inpatient go-live in March," she continued. "Jamie worked long hours for weeks on end leading up to the weekend of implementation. She personally staffed our command center for days on end and provided much-needed expertise, system knowledge and support to hundreds of people. She was the 'go-to person' for the many immediate fixes, questions and problems that poured in with a project of this size.

"All the while, she cracked jokes, helped stressed people, fixed issues on the spot and provided critical updates to senior leaders throughout the process. She navigated relations with our Epic vendor, consultants, IT staff and all of the patient care folks with clarity, fairness and impressive command of detail."

With the implementation complete – on schedule and on budget – the new electronic medical record system "is now as integral to the care that we provide as the physical structures and equipment we utilize," McCarter wrote.

But that does not mean Hughes' job is done. She has formed a "Clinical Informatics Committee," charged with optimizing the new system for clinicians and patients.

— By Dan Heuchert

Media Contact

Dan Heuchert

Assistant Director of University News and Chief Copy Editor, UVA Today Office of University Communications