Leadership Practices of 2016 Baldrige Award Recipients: Kindred–Mountain Valley

Posted by Christine Schaefer

During the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program’s 29th Annual Quest for Excellence® Conference this week, national role models in every sector—including Baldrige Award recipients of 2016 and previous years—have been showcasing their best practices.

Following is the second of four blogs on the leadership presentations of the 2016 Baldrige Award recipients (in order of publication): Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital (health care), Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation Center–Mountain Valley (health care), Don Chalmers Ford (small business), and Momentum Group (small business).

Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation–Mountain Valley

Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation–Mountain Valley is the first organization in its industry to earn a Baldrige Award. At the start of her leadership presentation before a large ballroom audience, the organization’s executive director, Maryruth Butler, provided a snapshot of the distinctive Baldrige Award recipient with these facts:

head shot of Maryruth Butler

Maryruth Butler

  • It’s a 68-bed skilled nursing facility, with 90 employees and 33 key volunteers.
  • It’s located in Kellogg, Idaho, in the northern Silver Valley region of the state.
  • 68 percent of its customers are residents receiving long-term care, and 32 percent are short-term patients receiving rehabilitation health care services.
  • Two acute-care hospitals are its primary sources of referrals.
  • It has achieved and sustained results in the top 10 percent of the nation.

In presenting key elements of her organization’s leadership system (depicted in graphic below) and strategic framework, Butler recited the vision, “Focus on our people, on quality and customer service, and our business results will follow.” She also shared its three core competencies of providing for a highly engaged workforce, resident-/patient-centered care, and excellent customer service.

Kindred-Mountain Valley Leadership System

Butler shared that her organization’s quest for continuous improvement and innovation has included its past involvement in the Baldrige-based national quality award program of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL). (Note: Kindred–Mountain Valley earned that program’s top-tier Gold–Excellence in Quality Award in 2011.)

In reviewing events that advanced her organization’s journey to excellence, Butler also identified the (1) involvement of the frontline staff in improvements based on their contributions during rounding by the senior leadership and (2) the evolution of its Plan-Do-Study-Act improvement method to the “more strategic” Quality Assurance Performance Improvement (QAPI) Process its uses today. Use of QAPI, she explained, is now required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Through its QAPI approach, Kindred–Mountain Valley created a systematic culture of safety in which “no one hesitates to voice a patient concern,” “the workforce feels safe learning from errors,” “workforce concerns are taken seriously,” and “action is taken … and changes are visible,” Butler shared. Among best practices for which Kindred–Mountain Valley is a national role model is its QAPI system and its patient/resident fall reduction program, according to Butler.

Butler said the culture of excellence created and sustained within Kindred–Mountain Valley encompasses solving problems creatively, fostering excitement around change, using proactive approaches rather than reactive measures, having a highly engaged workforce, and continuously improving performance.

Among key results she presented are Kindred–Mountain Valley’s consistent 5-star ratings from CMS for overall quality—a rare achievement since the rating system was implemented by the national regulatory agency in 2009. (Less than 1 percent of skilled nursing facilities in the nation, she noted, have earned that distinction.) For those in the audience not familiar with her industry, Butler explained that it is very transparent through the public availability of CMS quality ratings for every skilled nursing rehabilitation center in the nation.

Butler also highlighted her organization’s employee engagement survey results on the question of whether senior management is trustworthy: favorable responses dramatically increased over the past three years, she said, while the employee response rate to the annual survey also rose to 70 percent.

What are the keys to the organization’s success? Butler named these six:

  • Deep-seated culture of innovative thinking
  • Performance Management System
  • Baldrige Excellence Framework
  • Service Excellence Program
  • Strategic Planning Process
  • Action Map

For more details, see the Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation Center–Mountain Valley profile on the Baldrige website.

Other blogs in this series are linked here:


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Leadership Practices of 2016 Baldrige Award Recipients: Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital

Posted by Christine Schaefer

During the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program’s 29th Annual Quest for Excellence® Conference this week, national role models in every sector—including Baldrige Award recipients of 2016 and previous years—have been showcasing their best practices.

Following is the first of four blogs on the leadership presentations of the 2016 Baldrige Award recipients (in order of publication): Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital (health care); Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation Center–Mountain Valley (health care), Don Chalmers Ford (small business), and Momentum Group (small business).

Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital 

head shot of CEO

Greg Haralson

Speaking to a packed hotel ballroom at one of the first events of the 29th Annual Quest for Excellence Conference Monday morning, Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital CEO Greg Haralson first explained his hospital’s connection to the greater Memorial Hermann health system, which has a service area of 8,700 square miles.

Given “tremendous growth” in the greater Houston area, as well as in Texas as a whole, he said, the organization today serves about 1,600 inpatients annually, as well as more than 6,000 emergency room patients. And the Sugar Land hospital now has a workforce of more than 700 full-time employees, he added.

The hospital’s leaders and workforce embraced the question “Why Not Us?” to convey their aim for the organization “to be a role model, to achieve something greater, to accomplish something extraordinary, to be the preeminent community hospital in the nation,” said Haralson.

To achieve that vision, Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital’s Model of Preeminence (depicted as a pyramid in Haralson’s presentation) is based on differentiating its performance from that of other care providers (the middle of the pyramid) and delivering “reliable excellence” (the base of the pyramid).

“Health care is a tough industry,” Haralson said. “When you’re a patient, you expect zero mistakes.” Yet employees are human and not perfect, he continued, so the hospital created a framework of systematic processes that employees must follow 100 percent of the time to prevent mistakes that could cause patient harm.

The hospital considers patient safety to be one of its core competencies, along with “family caring for family.” Correspondingly, the values-driven leadership system (described by Haralson and depicted in graphic below) includes values of safety, accountability, innovation, collaboration, empowerment, compassion (“an expectation because we believe that health care is a calling,” said Haralson), results-oriented (“We have to produce at a high level in each one of our roles,” he said), and One Memorial Hermann (the system).
Graphic depiction of Memorial_Hermann_Leadership_System as circle

Haralson emphasized his organization’s values of compassion and safety. “Compassion is expected of everyone we hire,” he stated. “[It’s] a value we do not take lightly; [it’s] how we create a community for positive experience.”

Safety is incorporated into the organization’s culture, he said, through practices such as daily safety huddles, data transparency, a safety coach program, and use of high-reliability principles.

Haralson also spotlighted the structure of the hospital leadership’s communications system, which includes “Strategy Champions” to help convey messages between the executive team and the leadership team.

Among exemplary results he highlighted are the hospital’s 15-year record of zero ventilator-associated pneumonia cases and similarly long record in preventing instances of pressure ulcers among its patients.

“The hard work is worth [the effort],” Haralson concluded. “Getting to preeminence at the top of that pyramid is where we want to be, and we know that the Baldrige framework will help us get there.”

For more details, see the Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital profile on the Baldrige website.

Other blogs in this series are linked here:

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What the Commerce Secretary Said at This Year’s Baldrige Award Ceremony

Posted by Christine Schaefer

As the sun set over the Baltimore harbor waterfront Sunday evening, leaders of four high-performing American organizations officially received the 2016 Baldrige Award crystals that symbolize their status as national role models.

“This year’s recipients each exemplify the very best this country has to offer,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, speaking of Don Chalmers Ford (a small business in New Mexico), Momentum Group (a small business in California), Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation Center–Mountain Valley (a health care organization in Idaho), and Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital (a health care organization in Texas).

Secretary Ross highlighted results and practices of each award recipient, as follows.

Don Chalmers Ford:

  • “Representing Ford Motor Company in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, the dealership has received the highest national recognition for customer satisfaction and market share 13 times.”
  • “Each new employee is mentored by a senior employee, instilling within them the company’s culture and core values. This has given them a nearly unmatched retention rate.”
  • “Total sales for the dealership increased from $109 million to $126 million in 2015, while the gross profit increased by 13 percent.”

Momentum Group:

  • “Over the past 20 years, Momentum Group’s sales have increased over 400 percent, while the company has grown to include offices in North Carolina, Michigan, Illinois, New York, and Texas.”
  • “All of this was accomplished because management created an atmosphere in which employees can voice their opinions and take risks, no matter where on the corporate ladder they reside.”

Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation Center–Mountain Valley:

  • “They have received a five-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for seven straight years.”
  • “Since 2013, the 68-bed facility has been given a 100 percent ‘very good’ or ‘extremely good’ satisfaction rating from each resident or family member of a resident.”

Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital:

  • “Memorial Hermann Sugar Land ranks among the top 10 percent nationally in several health care performance metrics, including emergency room discharge time, compliance with regulations to reduce medication errors, and radiology and laboratory result turnaround time.”
  • “Employing over 600 local residents, Memorial Hermann Sugar Land operates with a revenue of $135 million.”

“Each of these honorees is deserving of their place among the select club of Malcolm Baldrige Award winners,” said Secretary Ross, before calling for a round of applause for the award recipients’ “successful efforts to improve themselves and their industries.”

He also stated, “We in government can create the right conditions, but it is American excellence in the private sector that will create and sustain job growth and economic opportunity. And so I hope that tonight’s recognition of these companies will show others what American businesses can achieve.”

The ceremony began with the Presentation of Colors by the United States Joint Armed Services Color Guard and included remarks by Baldrige Foundation Chair George Benson, Department of Commerce Acting Under Secretary for Standards and Technology and National Institute of Standards and Technology Acting Director Kent Rochford, Don Chalmers Ford President and Dealer Principal Gary Housley, Momentum Group President and Chief Executive Officer Roger Arciniega, Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation–Mountain Valley Executive Director Maryruth Butler, and Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital Chief Executive Officer Greg Haralson.

The event was streamed live and recorded for public viewing; watch the video on the NIST Facebook page.

Also visit the Baldrige Program’s home page for the related news story that includes ceremony photos, links to the full remarks of award recipient leaders, and information about the official release of the Baldrige Cybersecurity Excellence Builder.



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How Baldrige Makes America Better, State by State

By Christine Schaefer

Between 2005 and 2016, nine national role models identified through the annual Baldrige Awards have been organizations in Texas. During the same period, that state provided 80 applicants for the national Baldrige Award, which, in turn, provided each organization with evaluation-based feedback to help them improve their performance and advance their long-term sustainability.

The latest Baldrige Award winner from Texas is Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital, a community hospital located southwest of Houston that provides acute care services. Memorial Hermann Sugar Land is also the anchor for more than 20 associated care centers in the area that provide primary and specialty care services. The 641 employees of this 2016 Baldrige Award recipient excel by “bringing together quality, safety, and a family-caring-for-family approach” that “sets the pace for the hospital of tomorrow.”

Here are a few results this health care role model achieved in recent years:

  • Top 10% nationally for emergency center arrival-to-discharge time, compliance with regulations to reduce medication errors, bed turnaround times, radiology and laboratory result turnaround times, and the use of computerized physician order entry
  • 90% retention for employee partners, 100% for physician partners, and 90% for volunteer partners, all comparable to or exceeding national benchmarks
  • 90th percentile for patients saying they were “likely to recommend” day surgery, emergency care, gynecology, orthopedics, and women’s health

Next week, leaders from Memorial Hermann Sugar Land will be presenting their best practices for the benefit of hundreds of employees of other organizations at the Baldrige Program’s annual Quest for Excellence® Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Such sharing is expected of every Baldrige Award recipient in order to widely promote learning by organizations in every sector about the proven, effective leadership and management approaches based in the Baldrige Excellence Framework.

Like other Baldrige Award recipients, Memorial Hermann Sugar Land first received a state-level, assessment-based award through the Quality Texas Foundation (QTF). That foundation relies on the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program to develop and distribute the Baldrige Excellence Framework and related resources that it uses to help organizations in Texas improve their performance.

In this way, the federal Baldrige Program and its private-sector partner programs in the nonprofit Alliance for Performance Excellence (of which QTF is a member) together help strengthen the entire U.S. economy.

I’ve highlighted Memorial Hermann Sugar Land’s role-model performance and the assessment services it received from both the national and state-level Baldrige programs as just one example of how the Baldrige enterprise benefits America.

Learn more about Baldrige impacts and benefits by accessing the searchable, state-by-state data that are available on the Baldrige website and updated every year.

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What You Can Learn from a Baldrige Award-Winning School

By Christine Schaefer

In 2015, the Charter School of San Diego (CSSD)—part of a public school system—became the first school of its kind to earn a Baldrige Award. (Baldrige Award recipients in the education category over the previous 14 years included seven public school systems, a university, a community college, and a business school.) Embracing a greater aim of education, CSSD’s leaders consider “transforming lives” their core work as the school advances the learning of students who had been at risk of not graduating from high school.

Male student in graduation cap and gown

Last spring, at the Baldrige Program’s annual Quest for Excellence® Conference, CSSD Executive Director Tim Tuter and other school leaders provided extensive information about the school’s innovative practices to help at-risk students achieve new levels of success (e.g., see a related blog here.)

Early next month, Tuter will return to the annual Quest conference to share more about his organization’s processes, results, and journey to excellence using the Baldrige Excellence Framework (which includes the Education Criteria for Performance Excellence)

In advance of that presentation, Tuter graciously responded as follows to questions about his school’s use of the Baldrige framework.

head shot of Tim Tuter

Tim Tuter

How has the Baldrige framework contributed to your school’s success?

The Baldrige framework has allowed our school to identify and exceed stakeholder requirements in ways that were unimaginable ten years ago when we started our Baldrige journey. By diligently applying the Baldrige framework, we have developed robust processes in leadership, strategic planning, knowledge management, and operations to improve our school each and every year.

Our strong and improving school results over the past decade have been attributed to directly applying the Baldrige Criteria to every aspect of our school. The most rewarding part in realizing our school’s strong results is to know that these results directly relate to student motivation, student achievement and most important, students graduating. Given that our mission is to reduce dropouts and reengage an at-risk student population, results mean everything.

One of the most unexpected outcomes of applying the Baldrige Criteria to our school has been the development of a common language within the entire workforce around process improvement. This common language has helped us shape a very positive workforce environment and contributed to very high levels of workforce engagement compared to top industry performance. Winning the Baldrige Award has helped reinforce a very strong culture among the stakeholders of our school.

Would you please share an example or two of successful Baldrige-based practices at your organization?

CSSD senior leaders spend a tremendous amount of time planning and participating in dialogue and events that allow us to engage our stakeholders in a variety of ways. The Senior Leader Communication Plan allows CSSD senior leaders to consistently interact with all members of the workforce in strategic situations focused on consistently communicating the mission, vision, and values of the school. From providing regular updates at faculty meetings, to leading training sessions for new workforce members, to giving handwritten Welcome Cards to all new employees, we use the Senior Leader Communication Plan to inspire the workforce and grow the school.

One of the most meaningful communication methods is what we call “Tea with Mary,” where our CEO (Mary Bixby) meets in an informal setting with members of each division of the workforce to discuss ideas they have for improvements. Some of our most innovative ideas have come from employees who had thought about something for a while but might not have had the opportunity to share it without a “Tea with Mary” or similar event. By providing several opportunities, in a variety of ways, for employees to express their thoughts to our highest-level executives, we have successfully improved numerous school processes and results in all categories of the Baldrige framework.

What advice would you give other education leaders for using the Baldrige Excellence Framework to support student learning?

Educators in every school across America focus much of their time engaging stakeholders to gather information and make improvements, with varying degrees of success. I often tell fellow school administrators that the Baldrige framework’s strategic planning criteria provide a perfect road map for how to improve a school with the goal of supporting student learning.Female student waving in her graduation day cap and gown

Our strategic planning process is very robust and gathers inputs from all stakeholders. Since our school has already invested in an effective strategic planning process with input from all stakeholder groups, we are well ahead of others in meeting a new legal requirement recently passed by California’s state legislature that requires all public schools to engage their stakeholders in determining how they will achieve all state-defined priorities aligned to their budgets.

It might seem odd, but we find strategic planning fun! We thrive on strategic planning, as we continue to achieve success from following our process. If you want to support student learning, you have to plan for it.

What else might participants learn during your upcoming session at the Baldrige Program’s Quest for Excellence conference? For instance, since your organization won the Baldrige Award in 2015, how have you continued to use Baldrige concepts to drive improvements, innovation, and excellence?

Every year we continue to integrate Baldrige concepts within our school. One of the biggest enhancements has been our strong focus on improving our knowledge management. We have continued to enhance our Collaboration and Knowledge Management System to provide opportunities for sharing student performance data [among educators] in more disaggregated ways.

The student achievement data we discuss and the decisions we make from those opportunities have tremendous impacts on our instructional program and the overall operational direction of our school. One of the keys to our success is the strategic collaboration that occurs throughout the school year when we analyze and discuss new data and the dialogue leads to innovation and process improvements.

We begin planning for the next school year’s knowledge management methods six months before the new school year begins. We have a unique way of gathering data, distributing data, and making improvements from the information it brings us.

Any school or organization can learn from how our school manages knowledge, and we will share that during our concurrent session at the Quest conference.

To learn more from Tuter and other leaders of Baldrige Award recipient organizations in every sector, register now for the 29th Annual Quest for Excellence Conference.

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