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St. Luke's and the Power of Magnet

By Dr. David C. Pate, News and Community
June 16, 2015
Here is guest blogger, Cy Gearhard, chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care for the West Region of St. Luke’s Health System, on our upcoming Magnet® site visit and what being a Magnet® hospital means to us.

Next week, St. Luke’s Boise and Meridian locations will welcome a small group of visitors who mean a lot to Idaho and to our local communities, whether residents would recognize them or not.

These visitors will be here to assess St. Luke’s readiness in the Treasure Valley to continue as part of the Magnet® Recognition Program, the national gold standard of nursing excellence.

At times I am asked, by St. Luke’s staff members and others, why Magnet®? What does it mean, and why does it matter?

I’ll start with the “why,” because I think the answer to that question has everything to do with what Magnet® means.

St. Luke’s originally pursued Magnet® designation more than a decade ago, achieved it then, has met rededication standards twice since, and is going for a fourth designation because excellent patient care is what St. Luke’s stands for. Period. It’s that simple, and that complex.
From the left, East Region Chief Nursing Officer Amy Bearden; Associate Chief Nursing Officer Christine Ludlum; West Region Chief Nursing Officer Cy Gearhard; and Diana Meyer, senior director of St. Luke's Center for Nursing Excellence.
National statistics have shown that those hospitals with the Magnet® mark of excellence consistently are safer and of higher quality. Very specifically, they are characterized by lower mortality rates and better structures that underpin care. Such hospitals have better patient outcomes, lower staff turnover, and other characteristics that make associating with them very appealing to all participants in health care.

Dr. Pate and guest writers in this space write frequently about St. Luke’s transformation and concerted efforts to ensure quality and patient safety, and our Magnet® designation is an integral part of those efforts.

The nursing environment at St. Luke’s has evolved over the past two decades in support and in concert with our quality and patient safety work, and that evolution is very significant to our region. Readers who work in health care, particularly nursing professionals, will recognize elements of our transition in their own hospitals and health systems. When I look back at my many years in health care, the shift I have seen is profound, and profoundly meaningful.

Over that time, we have built frameworks, governance, and operations that support nurses as leaders and decision-makers, and an empowered environment in which nurses and physicians collaborate.

At St. Luke’s, as reflected in the Magnet® designation, that environment has been so meaningful that physicians and physician leaders and executives, including Dr. Pate, have taken it into account in considering whether to join forces with our organization.

Nurses, nurse leaders, physicians, and other clinicians have joined St. Luke’s based in part on the excellence that they know the Magnet® designation indicates. This is particularly true in the case of professionals who come from outside the area.

St. Luke’s was part of an early study that led to development of the Magnet® program. We have understood the underlying meaning of the designation.

In health care, if you are magnetic, you are attracting talented clinicians and other professionals, patients, board members, and many other interested parties.

We have not concentrated on national attention, although it has come, and very frequently in recent months. But we are very proud that the magnetic effect of our nursing excellence has attracted professionals who enhance the quality of life for our communities, people who are highly talented, caring, and committed participants in their neighborhoods and cities, who contribute in myriad ways to community health inside and outside St. Luke’s walls.

In the time we have been part of the Magnet® program, I have witnessed a diversification of our nursing population, an increasing emphasis on the value of nurses and nursing, and a broadening of the roles, responsibilities, and activities of nurses. There is no doubt those trends will continue.

I want to thank the entire interdisciplinary team that has worked so hard to sustain St. Luke’s excellence over these past dozen or so years. It’s one thing to attain the Magnet® mark once; it’s another thing to have reached that level repeatedly, and to ensure Magnet® readiness in the climate of national change that we’ve seen and been affected by in recent years.

I celebrate the directions in which we’re going, and I’m very, very proud of St. Luke’s commitment to the Magnet® program and what it represents.


Our patients, and our communities, deserve it.

To learn more, watch this St. Luke’s and Magnet® video.

About The Author

David C. Pate, M.D., J.D., previously served as president and CEO of St. Luke's Health System, based in Boise, Idaho. Dr. Pate joined the System in 2009 and retired in 2020. He received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.