Steele Memorial Medical Center

  • Location: Salmon, ID
  • Award: Rural Healthcare Organization of the Month
  • Awarded: October 2014

Steele Memorial Medical Center (SMMC), is a critical access hospital and rural health clinic located in scenic Salmon, Idaho.  SMMC has the distinction of being one of the most remotely located medical centers in the lower 48 states.  The organization also has the distinction of being one of the top performing medical centers in the United States.  SMMC’s mission: To Deliver Compassionate Healthcare.

What sets SMMC apart is its people.  Since opening in 1950, the people of Steele Memorial have provided compassionate, comprehensive health services to the residents and visitors of the Salmon and Lemhi River Valleys.  With a spirit of teamwork and tenacity, amidst an environment of continued challenges, Steele Memorial has excelled in creating a culture of service excellence.  This spirit is reflected in the feedback received from the patients. One such grateful patient recently wrote, “Let me tell you something.”  “SMMC might well set the example for every single healthcare facility in this country with these two words: Compassionate Care.”

In May of 2011, SMMC officially partnered with Studer Group through a Quorum Health Resources strategic service partnership. Knowing that successful organizations must prepare for where our industry will be in the future, not where the industry is currently, SMMC’s Board of Directors, Medical Staff, Management, Staff, Volunteers and Key Stakeholders embarked on an in-depth strategic planning process.  SMMC’s Vision, Mission, and Strategic Initiatives were formulated around Studer’s five pillars of excellence; People, Service, Quality, Finance and Growth. 

Shortly after finalizing the strategic plan, SMMC commenced cascading specific goals and initiatives throughout the organization. SMMC utilized the Leadership Evaluation Manager (LEM) software which creates a systematic approach to tie individual goals and initiatives back to the organization’s mission and vision allowing individual behaviors and actions to be consistently aligned.  Under the coaching of Debbie Caskey, SMMC began implementing Studer Must Haves and working towards hardwiring the best practices. Through use of the LEM, 90 day plans, communication boards, monthly meeting model, quarterly leadership development institutes, constant communication, transparency, close monitoring and measurement, SMMC has stayed focused and aligned on the strategic plan and realized significant improvement in patient satisfaction, employee satisfaction, service, quality outcomes and growth.

One of the most significant Must Haves SMMC utilizes is AIDET® A simple acronym for (Acknowledge, Introduce, Duration, Explanation & Thank You).  AIDET represents a powerful technique to communicate with individuals who are often nervous, anxious, and feeling vulnerable. SMMC introduced AIDET in January 2013 and AIDET validations were completed March 2013.  All new employees are introduced to AIDET® at New Employee Orientation.  Managers are tasked with assuring their employees training completion, observing each employee performing AIDET at least twice and validating their technique.  SMMC utilizes a skills laboratory to validate AIDET techniques for staff and managers.  SMMC Board Members and Volunteers are invited to participate in the process by role playing the patient. This not only emphasizes the organization’s commitment to the validation process but also provides Board members and Volunteers opportunities to interact with staff and become educated on the validation process.  AIDET is not only a proven technique that has allowed SMMC’s trained health care professionals to share their experience, knowledge, and training but AIDET has also been key in SMMC far outpacing the national average in improvement of patient perception of care results.


  • 2014 iVantage HEALTHSTRONG Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals and Top 500 Hospitals in the U.S.
  • 2014 Studer Group Excellence in Patient Care Award
  • 2014 Studer Group What’s Right in Healthcare presenter:  Driving Operational Efficiencies Though Evidence Based Leadership
  • 2014 Yellowstone Insurance Exchange, Jeff Martin Award for Excellence in Quality & Patient Safety
  • 2013 Quorum Health Resources (QHR) Excellence in Leadership/ Best Performing Hospital Award
  • 2013 Press Ganey “Guardian of Excellence” Award for Inpatient and Emergency Department patient experience performance.  Scores exceeded national 95th %tile

“As SMMC prepares for future opportunities and challenges, we will continue to make decisions based on the needs of our patients and community,” states Jeff Hill, CEO of SMMC.  “Through our partnership with the Studer Group, we will continue our commitment to excellence and embracing our mission of delivering compassionate healthcare every day.” 

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