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Behind our Many Awards are the Dedicated Efforts of our St. Luke's Physicians and Staff

January 24, 2012

It is with great pleasure and tremendous appreciation that I write to update you about some very significant recognitions we are receiving and to thank you for all that you have done to earn them.

Last week, Thomson Reuters announced that St. Luke’s Health System was ranked as one of the top 50 health systems in the country – and the top health system in Idaho – from among 321 total health systems, based upon quality measures. I am particularly proud of this accomplishment as it was based upon mortality rates, complication rates, patient safety measures, core measures, readmission rates, length of stay, and patient satisfaction scores, and reflected achievements all across our System.

All of these are areas that our physicians and staff work on every single day and the work, everywhere in our System, has paid off. For the treatment of sepsis, one of our major System-wide quality initiatives, we have earned a five-star rating from HealthGrades indicating our survival rates are statistically better than hospitals across the country on average. Congratulations to St. Luke’s Treasure Valley, St. Luke’s Magic Valley, St. Luke’s Wood River, St. Luke’s McCall, and to St. Luke’s Jerome!

As all of you know, a large focus of mine for the past two years has been to get us to work as a health system and to leverage our efforts and results through identification and the sharing of best practices.

Dr. Samantha Collier and I announced last week that as a consequence of our System-wide quality initiatives, with great work from throughout System by the physicians, nurses, laboratory and radiology technologists, and everyone involved in the care of these patients, our survival rate for sepsis, an overwhelming blood stream infection associated with a high likelihood of death, had improved to the point that statistically, 51 patients’ lives have been saved in just two years.

This initiative succeeded because certain caregivers had the courage to acknowledge that there was an opportunity to be better, and led the charge to coordinate our efforts all across the System. It is that spirit of always wanting to improve that is propelling us to national recognition, but more importantly, it is benefiting the patients who honor us by allowing us to care for them.

Today, HealthGrades announced that St. Luke’s Boise and Meridian Medical Centers are a Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence, placing them in the top 5 percent of all non-federal hospitals nationwide.   This is an amazing accomplishment and something of which we can all be very proud.

I want to acknowledge the critical role that our rural hospitals play when it comes to the health of people in our region. The volumes of particular illnesses don’t allow for St. Luke’s McCall and St. Luke’s Jerome to be recognized for their outstanding work by the national rating agencies. But their coordination of care has been critical to quality improvements in our System, and they play a pivotal role as we move forward in delivering accountable care.

There are many other awards and recognitions that have resulted in St. Luke’s Health System being the most awarded health system in Idaho. I am not going to list them all here, but I have listed many below.

I do want to mention one other designation, though, that I think is huge: our Magnet designation. St. Luke’s Boise and Meridian Medical Centers have been designated a Magnet hospital three times! Less than 7 percent of all hospitals in the country have achieved this distinction.

Although we could not have achieved any of our results without the participation of our medical staffs and the contributions of our physician leaders, nurses are the ones at the bedside 24/7. Nurses are the ones to pick up on the earliest signs of deterioration. Nurses are the ones who meticulously care for our patients to ensure their safety while avoiding preventable complications.

To me, Magnet is objective evidence of the quality of our nurses and the culture that we have created that promotes nursing excellence, research, and collaboration. There are only two Magnet-designated hospitals in the state; the other is Kootenai Medical Center. I can see that culture of nursing excellence in all our hospitals, and that shared culture helps us recruit and retain the very best nurses. Ultimately, it is our patients who benefit the most.

At St. Luke’s, we are striving to transform health care by aligning with physicians and other providers to deliver integrated, seamless, and patient-centered quality care across all St. Luke’s settings. This is our vision. Our strategy to do this is accountable care. Accountable care can be broadly defined by the Triple Aim: better health, better care, at lower cost. We are passionate about achieving our vision.

Many health care organizations lull themselves into a sense of complacency, believing that they are better than they really are. I have said and written many times that we must never be complacent, and that we will never content ourselves with whatever our current level of quality is.

As you saw with our sepsis improvement, this relentless pursuit of quality translates into lives saved. As long as we can save one more life through quality improvement, we will pursue it.

The value in the awards is not in creating a huge trophy display. The value is in the objective verification of how good we are. That is why I am so proud of everyone in our System. It takes all of us, in all of the areas we serve, to achieve excellence, and these evidence-based awards attest to the fact that we are delivering on our intention to be a national leader by 2015. And it is the people we serve and the patients we treat that benefit.

I want to take a moment to recognize St. Alphonsus Health System. Southwestern Idaho and Eastern Oregon are very fortunate to have two outstanding health care providers. Though we collaborate on many things, we are also competitors. This competition is what helps drive both of our organizations to continue to improve and as a result, the communities we serve benefit.

As I have said many times, St. Alphonus is not the competition I am focused on. We have set our sights on leading the nation and we are already in the top 50. The better St. Alphonsus gets, the more it helps push us, and so we congratulate St. Alphonsus on its many achievements. We want the healthiest communities possible, and St. Luke’s simply is not large enough to meet the needs of all these communities. Therefore, St. Alphonsus and St. Luke’s have to be, and are, partners in improving the health of our communities.

Congratulations to everyone throughout our System. Thank you to our board members, who push us to be the best we can be and don’t settle for good enough. Thank you to our staff, because it takes everyone, from housekeeping, to food services and dieticians, to pharmacists, to laboratory technicians, to radiology technicians, to transportation, to nurses and unit secretaries, to truly achieve excellence.  Thank you to the leaders of this organization who have aligned with our System, regardless of which particular hospital or outpatient department may be their primary responsibility, realizing that we can accomplish things together that were never possible working alone. Thank you to our physicians, who are dedicated to providing the highest possible quality of care to their patients and who are leading the charge on implementing evidence-based medicine and best practices to reduce mortality and complication rates. And thank you to our volunteers. You help us out in so many ways so that our staff can do what they do best: care for patients. Without you, we would not be the quality leader that we are.

Please join me in celebrating these amazing successes, and tomorrow, we go back to work becoming even better. We will not settle and we will not become complacent. Congratulations! I am so very proud of each and every one of you!

If you have questions, I would be pleased for you to submit them here on my blog and I will try to answer them promptly.

In addition to today’s recognition, our System hospitals have received the following awards and designations from HealthGrades:

Treasure Valley

  • One of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Cardiac Surgery (Boise and Meridian Medical Centers have been ranked among the top 10 percent in the nation for cardiac surgery three years in a row and have received HealthGrades’ five-star rating for treatment of heart attacks, and for valve surgery five years in a row!)
  • One of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Joint Replacement
    • Ranked among the top 5 percent of hospitals in the nation for joint replacement two years in a row
    • Ranked #1 in Idaho for overall orthopedics two years in a row
    • Ranked #1 in Idaho for joint replacement two years in a row
    • Five-star ratings for
      • Spine surgery two years in a row
      • Total knee replacement four years in a row
      • Total hip replacement two years in a row
      • Back and neck surgery two years in a row
  • Five-star rating for the treatment of pneumonia and the #1 hospital in Idaho for overall  pulmonary care
  • Vascular Surgery Excellence Award
    • Ranked among the top 5 percent of hospitals in the nation for vascular surgery
    • Five-star rating for carotid surgery eight years in a row
    • Five-star rating for peripheral vascular bypass
  • Ranked #1 in Idaho for Critical Care
    • Five-star rating for treatment of sepsis
    • Five-star rating for the treatment of respiratory failure
  • Five-star rating for GI procedures and surgeries four years in a row
Wood River
  • Five-star rating for spinal fusion two years in a row
  • Five-star rating for treatment of pneumonia three years in a row
Magic Valley
  • Five-star rating for hip fracture treatment two years in a row
  • Five-star rating for pneumonia survival at six months following hospital discharge
St. Luke’s has received many other awards and recognition from other quality rating organizations, including:

St. Luke’s Boise and Meridian Medical Centers

  • Thomson Reuters designation as a Top 50 Cardiovascular Hospital
  • The Consumer Choice Award
  • Society of Chest Pain Centers accreditation
St. Luke’s Magic Valley
  • Recognition by the Joint Commission as a top performer on key quality measures
  • Avatar award for exceeding patient expectations
  • Hospitals & Health Network’s Most Wired Award
St. Luke’s Wood River
  • Avatar award for exceeding patient expectations
  • Avatar Overall Best Performer award
  • Qualis Health Award for Excellence in Healthcare Quality