St. Joseph's Area Health Services

  • Location: Park Rapids, MN
  • Award: Rural Healthcare Organization of the Month
  • Awarded: July 2013


St. Joseph's Area Health Services in Park Rapids, MN is a full service, acute-care hospital nestled in the heart of Minnesota lake country with an area population of 27,000 that essentially doubles during the summer months with vacationers from across the US. Operating as a 25-bed critical access hospital, St. Joseph's hosts a full range of services including a 24-hour Emergency Department & Level IV Trauma Center providing care for patients from a four-county area including Hubbard, Becker, Cass, and Wadena. Catholic Health Initiatives of Denver, CO, sponsors St. Joseph's and plays a supportive role in training and best-practice initiatives to ensure quality patient care.

Our Studer Path

St. Joseph's Area Health Services has been on a journey that has included some of the Studer principles for about the last 10 years. Our management team read the book Hardwiring Excellence by Quint Studer not long after it was published in 2003. We had spent a lot of time and attention to our culture, defining behavioral expectations for staff, developing managers through leadership education, and focusing on service. Three "teams" - Standards and Expectations, People Skills, and Service Excellence - were charged with promoting these cultural change initiatives, and we felt successful in our efforts. We had a "good" organization.

In 2011, our CEO asked us to consider moving our organization to the next level. While we felt comfortable with our patient satisfaction and employee engagement efforts, it was a challenge to think about how we could be the best. What else could we do to move further down the path of improving the quality of care to our patients? How else would we recognize and reward out employees? We knew some areas of the hospital were performing significantly better than others. We wondered how "hard" we were "wired"? Were all managers using the tools and strategies consistently? Had we provided new managers with the same level of training that their more senior peers had enjoyed? In all honesty even though we were "good" we felt there was room for improvement.

So... we entered into a formal three-year consulting relationship with the Studer Group. We were assigned a coach and have been pleased to say that we have been able to integrate new strategies into our processes that have had a positive impact on our culture. We have implemented Rounding on Employees, Thank You Notes, the Monthly Meeting Model, and the Leader Evaluation Manager which in our case sets clear leader accountability expectations for performance.

Some of our other accomplishments include:

  • Improved Core Measure Performance - exceeds 93%
  • HCAHPS percentile ranks increased in 7 out of 9 categories
  • Medical Staff Satisfaction at 83% with Satisfaction with Nursing Care at 94% and Satisfaction with Team at 97%
  • Employee Engagement shows us at the 94%ile for "My Manager recognizes my good work" and the 94%ile for "My Manager cares about me as a person."
  • Successful recertification by The Joint Commission in 2012
  • AMA LifeSource Gold Award
  • Minnesota Hospital Association Patient Safety Excellence Award
  • Named recently as Top 100 Critical Access Hospital in the US by HealthStrong

While numbers tell only part of our story the real work of becoming an Excellent Organization is attributed to every one of our employees - from staff caring for patients to staff who support the systems that care for patients to managers, volunteers, and the administrative team. We embrace our values of Reverence, Integrity, Compassion, and Excellence every moment of every day as we care for patients. We also still have work to do. We are anticipating the implementation of AIDET this summer. We are implementing an electronic health record in the fall and feel that AIDET will be an important tool in communicating this change to our patients and families.

Excellence is always keeping People, Quality, Growth, and Performance a priority at St. Joseph's. We can never take out eyes off these important pillars as they take time and attention each and every day. We are pleased to be designated a Studer Group Healthcare Organization of the Month and are grateful to the Studer Group in guiding us along our path.

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