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Heart of America Medical Center

  • Location: Rugby, ND
  • Award: Rural Healthcare Organization of the Month
  • Awarded: April 2013

Heart of America Medical Center (HAMC) is located at the Geographical Center of North America. In the Center of it all! Founded by farsighted, pioneer Lutheran pastors dedicated to community service. This sense of loyalty has been a landmark for the organization since its inception in 1904. The Association has sustained Rugby's hospital and medical services since 1904. Heart of America Medical Center includes a 20-bed critical access hospital, surgical suite and a nursing facility. Haaland Estates, the association's 80-bed basic care facility and assisted living apartments, first opened as an intermediate care nursing home in 1962. Expanding with the community needs the Johnson Clinic, founded in 1933 by Dr. Olafur W. Johnson, merged with Heart of America Medical Center to form Heart of America Johnson Clinics in 2010.

Heart of America Medical Center has a long history of serving their communities in which the serve reaching out to individuals within a 50 mile radius. Understanding that the healthcare environment continues to change, HAMC understood the importance of focusing on their future by focusing on providing the best quality care in a setting that expects service and safety come first. We were confident that quality was consistent, however, organizationally; we didn't connect the quality care we were providing was purposeful. Talking to patients and their families was not consistent. The expectations we had of our employees were also inconsistent. We did not recognize the positive influence employees had on one another and patients. We wasted time on "the problem" not the solution, allowing a leadership philosophy of "that's the way we've always done it."

Our culture wasn't consistent; it was fabricated by silos and hindered our ability to be the best we could be for our patients and each other. Heart of America Medical Center was one of the smallest rural hospitals that entered into an agreement with the Studer Group. They offered tools and practices that made sense to a small rural hospital. HAMC was looking for a way to improve and identify a culture of excellence. We partnered with the Studer Group in 2011 sending as many managers, leaders to a TYYO as possible. They introduced all the tools in the tool kit and we in turn trained everyone on how to use the tools – rounding for outcomes; AIDET® , thank you notes. Incorporating the Leadership Development Institutes (LDI) was a cosmic change to our culture. The early lessons we learned continue to be nurtured and developed through the LDI's. Remember to measure the important things – what we permit we promote. We have achieved convincible results by integrating the Must Have's and the Nine Principles into our culture.

Heart of America Medical Center has built Service Teams that have been active in focusing on service and driving process improvement. Through our service teams; Standards of Behavior, Reward/Recognize & Celebrate, Measurements, LEM & LDI employees have been given opportunities to affect the culture. This in turn has created a positive atmosphere within the facilities of HAMC and the ability to create positive results.

Reward/Recognize & Celebrate

The success of Heart of America Medical Center is dependent upon their employees. Recognizing the outstanding work that each employee contributes to the success of the facilities is essential to the success and sustainability. The Reward / Recognize and Celebration Team instituted a "Thunder Awards" program in place to recognize individuals quarterly who exceed our expectations by going above and beyond. The name "Thunder Awards" came from a customer service quote instilled within staff form previous training: "What you do thunders above your head so loudly, I cannot hear the words you speak." Ralph Waldo Emerson. Award recipients are recognized in front of their peers with music, announcements and provided a special meal in the cafeteria that quarter. Annually all of the award recipients are invited to a special dinner along with their special guests in appreciation for their outstanding commitment.

Standards of Behavior

In today's health care market, it's important that employees feel valued and have a sense of ownership within the organization. Our Standards of Behavior Team included the employee's input on workplace expectations of themselves and one another. Their voice provided an avenue to create the Standards of Behavior. This has created an opportunity for the employees to give back to the facility in support of the destination to excellence. It created an environment where employees feel valued and understand the expectations of themselves and others.

Leadership Development (LDI)

Investing in leaders is part of the change in culture at the Heart of America Medical Center. It is understood that participating in educational opportunities is an important aspect of developing outstanding leaders. April 2013 will mark the 9th LDI HAMC has had since partnering with the Studer Group. Developing better leaders is the primary purpose of the training and has proven to be an important aspect in the destination to excellence. The Leadership Development Institutes have been so effective that our leaders are ready to develop new leader training in the fundamentals; AIDET, thank you notes, rounding for outcomes, LEM.

Pillar Goals

Pillar Goals (People-Service-Quality-Finance and Growth) have incorporated a consistent structure allowing leadership and front line staff to focus on the same objectives. These goals cascade to the LEM communicating a measurable outcome with specific tasks. An evaluation system has been put in place for all staff to identify, plan and measure their goals toward success.

Quality goals are measured through patient satisfaction rates provided through a vendor; NRC Picker. HAMC has chosen to participate in all patient care levels with inpatients and outpatients, therapy, clinic visits, physician engagement and the HCAHPS since the inception. This tool offers valuable information and allows benchmarking with other facilities across the country. The results and why of the measurements are discussed at management meetings, posted on all communication pillar boards (department and hospital-wide) and also discussed at our monthly Board of Trustee meetings. At Employee Forums, our CEO always discusses current results and provides a direction to improve or sustain results. Employees find this very informative and have an opportunity to interact with the CEO. Each year HAMC has been able to be progressive by continually improving composite scores. Heart of America Medical Center understands that the patient comes first assuring that every patient has a positive experience every time.

It was identified early within the Studer Group partnership the importance of a culture change for HAMC. The employees were committed to provide a positive experience for their patients, but it was applied and enforced within each area differently. By using the fundamentals, understanding and placing the prescriptive "to-do's") HAMC has learned and is applying the tools and techniques that have been proven to increase patient satisfaction. It is a continuous destination to excellence. By the evidence based outcomes a culture is built they HAMC can be proud of. Positive relationships are being created with employees, volunteers, physicians, and they are creating positive relationships with their patients within our communities we serve.

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