Hudson Valley Hospital Center

  • Location: Cortlandt Manor, NY
  • Award: Evidence-Based Leadership Healthcare Organization of the Month
  • Awarded: April 2008

Hudson Valley Hospital Center (HVHC), an atypical 128-bed community hospital located one hour north of New York City, was founded in 1889. The hospital’s mission to serve the healthcare needs of the community and to provide quality, comprehensive medical care in a compassionate, professional, respectful manner continues to guide staff today. In fulfilling this mission, the hospital strives for continuous improvement that most effectively responds to community healthcare needs. John Federspiel, CEO notes, “Our commitment to the community means a promising future in the way we administer health care in this region.” John recognizes and highlights the strength and dedication of HVHC healthcare providers who unselfishly share their expertise and compassion to keep their community healthy. Hudson Valley Hospital Center is proud to be the first hospital in New York to be selected by the Studer Group® as a Fire Starter.

Studer Group principles were introduced to the organization in 1999, and according to Vice President and Initiate Champion, Deborah Neuendorf, “Success was accomplished due to full commitment at the top, and full buy-in from so many dedicated front line staff.” The Board of Directors and the CEO fully embraced the model, recognizing that moving in this direction signaled better service to the needs of patients, physicians, and employees. It was a bold move, which required an entire culture change. Today, the CEO acknowledges, “Our journey of excellence is fueled by the patient experience, which in turn is decided through our staff”. This transformation from good to great was enabled by Studer Group leadership tools: nursing rounding, senior management rounding, discharge phone calls, establishment of report cards, 90-Day Plans for management, increased accountability, and quarterly educational sessions for managers. The strategic plan has been realigned under the five Pillars of Quality, Service, People, Finance, and Growth.

With the steadfast assistance of SG Coach Susan Osborne, who joined the team in 2005, HVHC made significant strides in improving the patient’s perception of care. By increasing management accountability, it has resulted in a hospital-wide cultural change.


Emergency Department

Ambulatory Surgery

Outpatient Services

Utilizing Studer Group principles for hardwiring excellence, HVHC has improved the patient’s perception of care significantly in all fields and categories. The Emergency Room improved from the 34th percentile in February-April 2004 to consistently above the 90th percentile throughout 2006 and 2007, despite a 30 percent increase in volume. Outpatient satisfaction has improved from the 14th percentile in August-October 2005 to the 96th percentile in February 2008. Inpatient satisfaction has improved from the 35th percentile in January 2006 to the 72nd percentile in February 2008. Ambulatory Surgery patient satisfaction has improved from the 27th percentile in April-September 2004 to the 89th percentile in February 2008.


HVHC is now in the top six percent of hospitals in employee satisfaction nationwide. The culture of HVHC continues to improve dramatically using Studer Group principles. In November 2006, the hospital received the Press Ganey “Success Story” award for improvements in Employee Satisfaction. Results in Press Ganey measurement of employee satisfaction have steadily improved and been maintained at the 94th percentile.

Outpatient Services

Increased communication with the Medical Staff proved effective as physician satisfaction scores showed an increase from the 79th percentile in 2006 to the 98th percentile in 2007.


The Joint Commission online Quality Report, based on CMS data, placed HVHC above national and state averages and among the top hospitals in the quality in the areas of Heart Failure and Pneumonia. HVHC is at or above 90 percent for all other indicators in the areas of Heart Attack and Surgical Infection Prevention. Two of the most significant improvements have been with administration of the Pneumococcal vaccine for the Pneumonia Core Measure and the Discharge Instructions for HVHC Heart Failure Patients. Compliance with Pneumococcal vaccine administration has improved from 28 percent in 2005 to 96 percent in 2006 and as of February 2008, HVHC is still maintaining 91 percent compliance. Evidence of complete Heart Failure Discharge Instructions has improved from 36 percent in 2005 to 86 percent in 2006 and as of February 2008 it is up to 100 percent compliance.


HVHC has experienced a financial turnaround during their journey with Studer Group. From 1999-2002, the hospital was losing more than two million dollars per year from operations. The financials have improved significantly and HVHC continues to operate in the black from
2003-2007. In New York, where a number of small to medium size hospitals have closed due to financial distress, operating steadily in the black with improving profitability is a major success.


The improving financials and increased patient volume has facilitated and enabled continued growth of the hospital. HVHC broke ground on a 100 million dollar expansion of the hospital this spring. The expansion will double the size of the Emergency Room, add two new operating rooms, and four new critical care rooms in the dedicated Progressive Care Unit. All of the semi-private patient rooms will be replaced with roomy private rooms in a new four-story patient tower. In the New York environment of bankruptcies and hospital closures, expansion such as this is unusual.

Special achievements

Excellence in nursing

Because of HVHC’s persistent commitment to excellence, they were the first hospital in a seven-county region to attain the highly coveted MAGNET™ designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Adherence to the Studer Group principles both supported and enriched HVHC’s ability to achieve such sustained excellence. “It was the perseverance, professionalism, and dedication of HVHC nurses, who make a difference in the lives of HVHC patients every day, that enabled this recognition,” states Kathy Webster, RN, MSN,CNAA, Vice President of Patient Services, and the dedication of nursing leadership to the Studer Group core components. Reward and recognition for the heroic job done by staff daily was the key to sustained effort to better serve the patient.

Innovative programs

HVHC’s "no-wait" Emergency Room has revolutionized the industry, and they host visitors regularly wanting to know how they accomplished this challenging program re-engineering. Immediately after introduction of the “No-Wait” ER, patient satisfaction results improved to above the 90th percentile and have stayed there consistently for the two years since its institution. These improvements are despite continued growth in volume of 30 percent since 2005. HVHC’s Wellness Club, an adult fitness center that is medically supervised, is unique in the New York Metropolitan area. The Club is an intimate, holistic center that integrates fitness for the body, mind, and spirit and provides a continuum for the hospital’s rehabilitation programs. HVHC’s Women's Pavilion for Birthing has been named the best place in Westchester for the family birthing experience, attracting families with a whirlpool tub in each labor room, an expert breast-feeding program and a new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).


October 2006: Vice President of Patient Services, Kathy Webster, received the New York Organization of Nurses Executives (NYONE) Leadership Award in recognition of creative and contemporary leadership in nursing practice.

November 2006: HVHC received the Press Ganey “Success Story” award for improvements in Employee Satisfaction. Results in the national employee satisfaction database have steadily improved to the 97th percentile.

February 2007: Received the 2007 Forbes Enterprise Award in the Hospital Category for innovative ideas in the field of healthcare.

April 2007: HVHC was recognized as a MAGNET Hospital for Nursing Excellence. This honor was awarded by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. HVHC is the first hospital to be designated as a MAGNET Hospital in the 150-mile stretch between New York City and the state capital in Albany.

June 2007: Recognized as one of the “Ten Best Places to Work” in Westchester County. HVHC was the only hospital honored. Other winners included such stars as MasterCard Worldwide, Stew Leonard’s, NY Life Insurance Co., Nokia and Consumer Union.

October 2007: Vice President of Patient Services, Kathy Webster, won the NY Times “Tribute to Nurses” award. She was the winner in the Leadership Category, one of only four nurses selected nationally.

October 2007: HVHC was recognized by HealthGrades with two awards; the “Excellence in Maternity Services Award” and the “Excellence in Pulmonary Services Award”.

May 2008: Hudson Valley Magazine recognized HVHC for excellence in nursing. All eight nursing entries were selected for an award, while seven nurses were profiled in the magazine among the top 20 nurses in the Hudson Valley region of New York state.

Hudson Valley Hospital Center pledges to continue their commitment to hardwire the Studer Group principles, which will enable them to support, nurture, and recognize their exceptional staff that is at the core of their excellence. HVHC’s passion for “Excellence in Caring” will continue to drive further change and innovation for the benefit of patients, physicians, and staff.

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