Hayward Area Memorial Hospital and Water's Edge Senior Living Community

  • Location: Hayward, WI
  • Award: Rural Health Care Organization of the Month
  • Awarded: January 2015

Hayward Area Memorial Hospital and Water’s Edge Senior Living Community (HAMH&WE) is a medical complex like no other. Nestled in the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin in an area known for its, woods, water and recreation, the 25-bed critical access hospital, 50 bed skilled nursing care center and 20 apartment assisted living serves the people of the Hayward area from birth to the end of life. In addition, services are also provided to those who visit the beautiful area or who come to participate or spectate at the many world-class events hosted in the region.

The hospital celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2013 on the same 640 acre piece of property as the day the doors first opened in 1953. The facility not only offers advanced medical care in the hospital, and a home to many in the care center and assisted living, but it is also a source of recreation with eight miles of hiking, biking, skiing and snowshoeing trails. The property also has its very own lake, offering many species of fish for area anglers and those who live at Water’s Edge.

The leaders of the organization are always focused on the mission to continuously improve the health status of the people of the Hayward area. Being on the forefront of technology and constantly evaluating services in order to keep area residents healthy and close to home for their medical care are high priorities. However, the greatest service and that which drove us to partner with the Studer Group is improving our ability to meet patient, resident and tenant expectations in providing safe, quality and compassionate care to every person, every time.

Our journey with Studer Group and the Evidence-Based Leadership Model began in June 2013. HAMH&WE did not partner with Studer because we were a poor performing facility. We had average HCAHPS scores, were financially sound, and we had reasonable patient, resident, tenant and employee satisfaction scores. 

In fact, we have had many notable achievements in the recent past including being named as one of the 2013 Top 100 critical access hospitals in the nation. In 2009, we received an architectural citation of merit for the design of Water’s Edge Senior Living Community. Vendome Group, SAGE and The Center for Health Design recognized the innovative design and homelike environment that Water’s Edge would provide for senior citizens of our region. Water’s Edge also received Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011 from the Hayward Area Chamber of Commerce, the same year the doors opened to the new facility. 

HAMH&WE partnered with Studer Group because we knew we needed help to move from average to excellent. In our first eighteen months of being a Studer Group partner, our HCAHPS scores have improved dramatically, achieving an all “green” patient satisfaction survey in the period of August through October 2014, with some of our greatest improvements occurring in the areas of pain management and communication with nurses. We have also experienced an extremely high level of resident and tenant satisfaction on our care center and assisted living surveys.


One of the greatest challenges we have faced, has been introducing the Studer Group tactics at a manageable pace. Implementing the recommended  Studer Group Committee structure has been instrumental in developing a systematic rollout of each new tactic and learning tool. Each committee was chosen very carefully with representatives from a variety of areas in our diverse working environment. When you have employees who represent very different care models between hospital, long term and assisted living care, bringing everyone together can pose a challenge. However, it is a challenge that is easily overcome when the basic principle of providing excellent service to every person, every time is followed. 

The most defining moment to date has been the release of our Service Standards and the introduction of AIDET. Service Standards are not new for our organization, but with the guidance of Studer Group and the leadership of the Service Standards Committee we were able to introduce employees and the medical staff to the standards in a new and meaningful way. We also incorporated AIDET into our standards. The positive impact on our employee, visitor, patient, resident, and tenant interactions is easily apparent as you travel through our halls. 

Most recently Hayward Area Memorial Hospital has obtained the Wisconsin Hospital Association’s Gold Level Status for our Partners with Patients Initiative. Partners for Patients is an ambitious program aimed at preventing avoidable hospital-acquired infections, reducing readmissions and improving care transitions. The national project is funded by CMS and contracted through the Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET), an affiliate of the American Hospital Association. The program is a collaborative effort giving Wisconsin hospitals the opportunity to learn best practices in quality improvement from each other and from other hospitals around the nation. December of 2014 marks the end of three years of intense hard work, commitment and dedication by our nursing staff. The WHA has recognized the significant progress we have made in improving the safety and quality of care of the community we serve.  

Our final indicator that we are moving in the right direction is the honor of being chosen to present at Studer Group's 13th annual “What's Right in Health Care” conference in Chicago in August 2015. This is a great honor and reflects on the outstanding and exemplary work that we have done in implementing the evidence-based leadership model through our partnership with Studer Group.

“I am very proud to have the opportunity to share the excellent work our staff does each and every day to make Hayward Area Memorial Hospital and Water’s Edge a shining example of ‘What's Right in Health Care’,” said Tim Gullingsrud, HAMH&WE Chief Executive Officer.

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