Press Ganey, a national firm that specializes in quality care measurement and the improvement of health-care institutions, last week awarded its most prestigious award to the Martha's Vineyard Hospital emergency department.
Hospital officials traveled to the Press Ganey 2007 National Client Conference in Kissimmee, Florida on Nov. 27 to receive the Summit Award, which "recognizes organizations that have achieved and sustained the highest level of excellence in patient satisfaction."
Tim Walsh, hospital chief executive officer, Carol Bardwell, chief nurse executive, and Dedie Wieler, chief quality officer, attended the conference along with more than 2,000 health-care leaders from across the country.
Mr. Walsh said the award was recognition of the continuing efforts at all levels to improve patient care and the dedication of the emergency room (ER) staff. He said the conference provided the added benefit of meeting the many other health-care colleagues. "You learn a lot about what other people are doing," said Mr. Walsh. "And that's how you get better."
Mr. Walsh said the Summit Award confirms that the Hospital's focus on the quality of its care is paying off.
Press Ganey regularly conducts patient satisfaction surveys for the hospital. Hospital officials study the responses to look for areas that can be improved, he said.
The most recent survey of ER patient satisfaction placed the hospital in the top tier. Press Ganey notified Mr. Walsh of the award earlier this fall, but asked that the news not be made public prior to the conference.
Hospital emergency services director Dr. Tim Tsai said that based on his day-to-day experience he is not surprised that the hospital ER continually scores high in patient satisfaction surveys. "We have a group of very capable and compassionate professionals applying themselves to the work of caring for patients many of whom are friends and neighbors," he said. "There are talented people in every role in this department. It's great that their effort and consistency is being recognized."
Dr. Tsai said that many hospital services converge in the ER. Although the emergency department was named as the recipient of the Summit Award, he said the award would not have been possible without the combined efforts of a wider group of support services and people. "The radiology technologists and the laboratory as well as cardiopulmonary services are particularly important to us," he said. "Although the emergency department is named as the recipient, the award is in many respects representative of how well the hospital is doing overall."
There were 963 ERs, big and small, eligible for the 2007 Summit Award this year according to Press Ganey. The Martha's Vineyard Hospital shared top honors with 11 other emergency departments from around the country. They included the Avera Weskota Memorial Medical Center in Wessington Springs, S.D.; Gulf Breeze Hospital in Gulf Breeze, Fla.; Middlesex Hospital Marlborough Medical Center in Middletown, Conn.; and Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington, Vt.
According to Press Ganey, the company partners with more than 7,000 health-care organizations - including nearly 40 percent of U.S. hospitals - to measure and improve their quality of care. The Summit Award recognizes organizations that have maintained a top ranking for a minimum of three consecutive years.
The Press Ganey Awards Program (available here) includes a description of the Martha's Vineyard Hospital, the challenges it faces and the efforts made to improve care. "Our geographic location, which attracts year-round residents and visitors alike, makes the delivery of medical care more complex than most and challenges us in many ways as we strive to provide quality care," reads the program. "Being a resort destination, our patient population swings from an off-season low of about 15,000 to an in-season high of over 100,000, which has a significant effect on our ability to maintain high levels of patient satisfaction due to issues such as staffing and space.
In order to manage the impact of having over 30 percent of our annual 14,000 ER visits occur during the months of July and August, Martha's Vineyard Hospital has developed several successful programs to assist in delivering emergency care."
According to the results of the most recent patient survey released in June, the emergency room (ER) got high marks for patient satisfaction and finished in the top ranks in all categories, when compared with other ERs in several hospital groupings.
The overall facility rating for the emergency room at MVH was 93, meaning that the Island hospital's ER scored better than 93 percent of ERs among the survey group of 136 hospitals that handle less than 20,000 patient visits each year. The overall facility rating for the emergency room at MVH was in the 99th percentile of 923 hospitals surveyed nationwide.
The rankings were based on the results of surveys completed and returned by patients who visited the ER between Nov. 1, 2006 and April 30, 2007. Visitors seeking emergency treatment were most pleased with nurses and doctors and less pleased with their arrival and processing.
A total of 404 patients, or approximately 10 percent of the patients treated during the six-month survey period, responded. Those results provided the basis for a mean overall score that was then measured against the results from other hospitals and used as the basis for separate rankings.
For example, the Vineyard hospital ER doctors received an overall mean score of 92.1, based on patient responses. When measured against all hospitals in the database, the doctors ranked 99 for all categories, meaning that 99 percent of all hospitals in the database had lower overall scores in that category. The rank was 96 in the 20,000 or fewer patient category and 97 for the northeast region.
The hospital ER received a mean score of 88.2 in the category of how well pain was controlled, with rankings of 99 for the entire database (20,000 or fewer), 97 for patient loads, and 98 for the Northeast region. The rankings for waiting time to see a doctor were 96, 89, and 95, respectively, for the three categories.
The lowest rankings received were in the categories of tests and personal/insurance information, when the Vineyard hospital was compared to hospitals in the 20,000 or less category. The hospital received a mean score of 91.1 for the courtesy of the radiology staff, but scored a 50 ranking when compared to other small hospitals.
The hospital received a mean score of 89 for protecting privacy when collecting personal/insurance information and a 59-percentile ranking. In almost all other categories, the hospital scored 90 and above.
The ER, now 10 small rooms in a wing of the outdated facility, will grow to 16 full-size rooms with the newest equipment in the $42 million hospital now being built.