Abbeville Area Medical Center

  • Location: Abbeville, SC
  • Award: Rural Healthcare Organization of the Month
  • Awarded: April 2012

About Abbeville Area Medical Center…

Abbeville Area Medical Center (AAMC) has been providing compassionate personalized care since 1919. We are a 25-bed critical access (CAH) not-for profit hospital in rural Abbeville, South Carolina. Our mission is to improve the health of the communities we serve, and our vision is to be the first choice for healthcare in those communities.

Our Journey…

Being a small hospital with a larger facility just 15 minutes away, we knew we needed to set ourselves apart from our competition. Because of our size, we have always provided very personalized service to our patients and their families. We simply needed to find techniques that would help us improve upon and maintain this already good level of care.

AAMC partnered with the Studer Group in 2008. In past years our hospital had started several customer service initiatives with little success, so our challenge was to relay to our staff that this initiative was one that "was here to stay." We knew that to achieve success, a committed administrative and managerial staff was a "must have" and that their commitment would lead to the buy-in of our medical staff and other employees.

In less than four years, AAMC has made great strides in providing both excellent care and service to the patients and families we serve. We feel that we are well on our way to our Pursuit of Excellence.

HCAHPS Composite

Percentile Rank

4Q11 Percentile Rank


Overall Rating




Communication with Nurses




Communication with Doctors




Clean and Quiet




Pain Management




Communication of Medications




Discharge Information




We utilized numerous Studer Group techniques that have enabled us to make significant strides in our patient's perception of care. This is where our story begins.

Building Our Team…

In order to improve our customer service scores, we knew we needed to build an employee population that was customer focused. We were fortunate that, being a small hospital, we have more of a "family" dynamic than larger hospitals. Our employees know each other well, which allows for very open lines of communication and a solid team-oriented approach to care. Our administrative team also is very accessible and has an open door policy.

AAMC did not have a true employee recognition program. Knowing that happy employees translate to happy customers, one of our first efforts was to take steps to thank our employees for their service to our hospital.

A thank you note program was put into place to ensure that staff members' hard work and dedication were recognized by management staff.

A Reward and Recognition Team was also formed, which implemented our "Stars and Champions" program. This program highlights the many ways AAMC staff members go above and beyond their job duties to help others. The "Star" award is given monthly and allows employees to nominate individuals who "shine" like stars by performing very specific kind acts that benefit physicians, patients and fellow employees. A Champion is chosen from all of the years' Stars whose act of kindness the committee feels has made the biggest impact. This program has been in place for three years and in 2011 alone there were a total of 19 Stars. The following story is about a home health nurse who was named the Champion for the year and is just one example of how our staff goes above and beyond to care for our patients and their families.

"We recently lost my grandfather but prior to his passing, Jennifer cared for him for months as his home health nurse. She was the most compassionate nurse any family could ask for but one act of extraordinary kindness sticks out in my mind. After my grandfather's passing, my dad wanted to donate his clothing to needy patients and Jennifer volunteered to take his shirts and find a good home for them. What she actually did with them was most beautiful and unbelievable. She knew how dear ‘the little things' were to my family and the memory of my grandfather so she decided to spend her time outside of work to make something that would last our family a lifetime. Recently, she surprised my dad with a handmade patchwork quilt (sewn by her) using swatches of my grandfathers long-sleeved shirts and decorated with the buttons of his shirts. This brought tears to our eyes and we could never thank her enough for spending hours of her gracious time to present us with this gift."

Accountability of staff had also been an issue that at times had strained employee morale. A Standards Team was created that consisted of employees from various departments throughout the hospital. This team was charged with developing a code of standards that each employee would commit to follow on a daily basis. The standards were added to employee evaluations to ensure consistent accountability.

Inconsistent communication and lack of organizational transparency was identified as an opportunity for improvement. We began holding Town Hall meetings on a quarterly basis. Information at these meetings in presented by Pillar and is designed to keep employees informed about the state of the hospital. Communication Boards were placed in each department to keep staff informed regarding our strategic goals. These Studer Group tools have helped keep AAMC aligned and ensured that important key service indicators are communicated throughout the organization, helped leading to successful outcomes.

We also realized that we needed to provide our Department Managers with the tools necessary to carry out our strategic goals. We implemented mandatory Leadership Development Institutes held three times a year. This time is used to educate mangers regarding upcoming initiatives and to create an open forum for discussion of strategies to reach our goals.

AAMC wants to be the healthcare employer of choice. We held our first employee satisfaction survey to get a base line on employee job satisfaction. While our first survey was very positive, our second survey showed significant improvement when compared to the 175,000 employees from over the 240 other hospitals in the Avatar database, Abbeville Area Medical Center scored at least 7%higher in every category.

We have recently implemented the Peer Interviewing process, to make sure we are placing the RIGHT people in the RIGHT roles. Having current employees hire their peers creates ownership and a more positive work environment.


Our staff is committed to supporting our community and each other in a variety of ways. Our staff members coordinate food drives and support our local Angel Tree program with gifts for needy children. An Employee Assistance Fund administered by United Christian Ministries of Abbeville County was created to which employees can donate to help other employees in need. Our physicians annually fund a Holiday Project that provides gifts for needy children and Senior Citizens in our community. AAMC has a very active Relay for Life team that recently received the Silver Award for raising more than $10,000.00 in support of the cause.

Our Commitment to Service…

We knew that the patient's perception of the care they will receive begins the second they walk through our doors. AAMC is very fortunate to have a facility that is relatively new and in good shape, but we still wanted to take extra steps to create an environment that was even more conducive to having a good experience at our hospital. We added live plants in many areas of the hospital and formed a relationship with our local Artists Guild to create an art "gallery" with original artwork that was hung in one of our hallways.

We also knew that to gain buy-in from hospital staff, our journey needed to begin with hospital leadership. Leadership had to demonstrate their commitment in order for others to follow. Our leadership is regularly seen by staff throughout the hospital and also rounds on patients.

Many times the patient experience begins in the Emergency Department, which will set the stage for the remainder of the stay if the patient is admitted. Because we receive many of our admissions from our ED, it was important that this first impression be a positive one. One of the key indicators that we have been able sustain was our throughput time which is currently at 1.7 hours well below the national average of 4 hours. A patient thank you note program was implemented. The note thanked the patient for choosing AAMC, was signed by the caregiver and included manager contact information should the patient need further assistance. Discharge phone calls were also put into place to check on the patient's progress as well as the level of service that was received. Both of these initiatives have been implemented in other areas of the hospital.

Our nursing staff began hourly rounding on patients in order to anticipate the patient's needs. This resulted in not only very positive patient experiences but also a reduction in falls, for six consecutive quarters we have been below the national benchmark per patient day. Patients often comment that our nursing staff "knew what they needed before they knew they needed it."

The team approach is now used frequently when satisfaction issues are identified. Noise had been identified on satisfaction surveys as problem in the hospital so a team was created to address the issue. As a result, a new nursing station was created that was away from patient rooms, Yacker Trackers TM were installed in key areas that would flash yellow and red as noise levels increased, and noisy automatic doors were removed.

We believe our patients tell our story the best:

"Every time that I have used the services of AAMC, I have received nothing but the best of care. I know they are not equipped to handle every situation, but they are "tops" at what they do from ER, to ICU, to med-surg, to lab, to radiology. Have not had experience with surgical dept. but I would not hesitate to do so. The best staff in this area of SC!!"

"I was very impressed with the care I received. The staff was attentive and expressed empathy and concern for my well being - I was away from home when I became ill and it was very stressful. Thank you for the wonderful care and concern by the ER dept., physicians, nurses & ancillary staff."

"The entire staff of the hospital went above and beyond and is to be commended for helping make my first stay in the hospital easy & comfortable."

"I had a very good experience. I'm totally blind and they were very helpful. And very courteous to the fact I couldn't see and they explained things very carefully to me so I understood it and I was very grateful. The nurses were very good. They were very patient with me."

Award Winning in All Areas…

We are very proud that our hard work has paid off in many areas. Below are just a few of our recent achievements.

Home Care Elite™ Award for 2011. AAMC's Health Related Home Care is ranked in top 25% of home care agencies in the nation. This award recognizes outstanding Quality Outcomes, Quality Improvements and Financial Performance.

QHR Best overall performance Critical Access Hospital was received by AAMC received in 2011. We had the biggest improvement in 6 financial indicators from 2010 for 60 Critical Access hospitals.

Carolina's Center for Medical Excellence Award for our commitment to quality improvement and exceptional performance in successfully maintaining no hospital acquired MRSA during the three year period of the 9th Statement of Work

Palmetto Hospital Trust Award for loss prevention strategies to prevent workplace accidents

South Carolina Chamber of Commerce Workplace Safety Award honoring our commitment to workplace safety

Palmetto Gold Nurse Award received by our Diabetes Educator. This award is given to the top 100 registered nurses from those nominated in our State who exemplifies excellence in nursing practice and commitment to the nursing profession.

Carolina's Healthcare Public Relations & Marketing Society Gold Wally award for the best television campaign for North & South Carolina. Our campaign featured testimonials by two patients and one physician.

Abbeville Area Medical Center is honored to have been named the Studer Group Healthcare Organization of the Month. It is our goal to do what's best for our patients by providing quality, compassionate care at all levels. Our entire healthcare team truly understands their role in helping us maintain excellent customer service, which results in the highest quality care for our patients. We are Smaller. Smarter. Safer.

Print Page