After receiving the TPE’s highest level of recognition, Persohn recognized that Memorial needed to take time off before applying for the national award. “Some of our results weren’t what we wanted them to be,” she explains. Even though they did not apply, they “kept the cycle going and kept pushing.” Adds Melanie Powell, director of business development and marketing, “We weren’t going to allow ourselves to go backwards.” One of the processes that showed great promise was the establishment of multidisciplinary 90-day action teams to tackle an issue. Powell explains, “Instead of having a strategic plan and that you say at the end of the year, ‘what did we accomplish?’, we start at the beginning of the year and break down the work and assign initiatives to 90-day action teams.” The process is designed to be focused and efficient. Some projects conclude in 90 days while others go for additional 90-day cycles. Memorial’s leadership team carefully tracks the teams’ progress, ensuring that work remains on track.
One of the teams set its sights on improving outcomes by implementing daily safety huddles. “Safety huddles are nothing new,” explains Tonya Heim, chief nursing officer. But the multidisciplinary process led to a breakthrough. Two team members, a security manager and the director of nursing for the skilled unit, provided crucial input. “They suggested that every issue raised in the huddle be assigned a “scope and severity” rate,” said Heim. The concepts came from their backgrounds in long term care and disaster planning, respectively. “Every item that is brought up is rated on a scope and severity scale. How it’s rated determines how quickly it is addressed.” The patient safety officer posts minutes on the hospital’s “HUB,” or intranet, giving the entire organization visibility into the focus of safety efforts. Approximately 25 people attend the daily huddle, which lasts less than 10 minutes, with people off-site dialing in. Heim adds that the huddles occur daily at the same time and in the same location. “We made it absolutely reliable,” she says.
By 2018, Lori Persohn says she knew they were ready to apply for the national award. The application resulted in a site visit from a team of independent examiners who spent several days on site, verifying the processes in the application. The examiners were thorough – they asked to review more than 250 documents during the visit. “Our culture, our mission, values, our vision, our communications and our workforce – those were things that I had no doubt in my mind would come through – and they did,” Persohn said.
Organizations that receive the Baldrige award generally receive a lot of public attention, and Memorial is no exception. The organization takes 47 people Washington, D.C., where the Secretary of Commerce will present them, along with the other recipients, with the award in an April 7 ceremony. With 1700 employees, Memorial could not take everyone. Bennett says they decided they could take 20 staff and five from the leadership group, in addition to the presenters, administrative team, and Board members. To guide the selection process, they had an essay contest asking people to write why they wanted to attend. Sixty-eight people submitted entries, which were de-identified and reviewed by a team of three. The Quest for Excellence Conference will immediately follow the ceremony. Quest, as it is known, showcases the Baldrige recipients to a large, public audience. Memorial will also host “sharing days” for other organizations with an interest in learning from them and they will share their journey with their local business community.
Memorial’s story does not end with the award. Even as good as the organization is, Bennett points out that the feedback report contains 37 opportunities for improvement – or OFIs. “We’re committed to continuing,” he says even if the rules don’t allow a recipient to reapply for five years. Lori Persohn expresses the sentiment of the entire team when she says, “We want Memorial Hospital to be the best place for our patients to receive care, the best place for our staff to work, the best place for our providers to practice and we want to remain an independent, community hospital.”