Archive for the ‘Patient satisfaction’ Category

Patient satisfaction at Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies has long been a focal point of Poudre Valley Health System, and that will continue as University of Colorado Health.

Patient satisfaction is about more than just great medical care: It’s about friendly, compassionate nurses and staff, a clean facility and doing whatever it takes to exceed patient expectations.

While PVH and MCR use a third party, Avatar International, to track patient satisfaction, the government also tracks patient satisfaction and reports the results on the Hospital Compare website. Visitors to the site can compare patient satisfaction at up to three hospitals, including those nearby with a simple city or zip code search.

One of the best indicators of patient satisfaction, of satisfaction with any product or service, is whether the patient or customer would “definitely” recommend it to others.

That’s where PVH and MCR shine: 86 percent of visitors to MCR would definitely recommend, and 81 percent of visitors to PVH would do the same.

Both of those marks are higher than any other hospital in southern Wyoming and northern Colorado, including those in Greeley, Longmont, Boulder, Estes Park or Cheyenne.

We encourage you to visit the Hospital Compare site and see how PVH and MCR stack up against any other hospital in the country.

–Kevin Darst, director of marketing and communication

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I’ve learned from watching our nurses over the years that nursing is a profession where a significant amount of personal effort is given in terms of skill, dedication, time, emotions, education, and care.

But seldom are nurses recognized for their important work.

There is one great form of recognition, though. Each year the nursing profession in Colorado honors its own by presenting the Nightingale Award for Excellence in Human Caring to the six top registered nurses in the state.

Florence Nightingale, circa 1858.

The award was founded in 1985 by the University of Colorado to recognize registered nurses whose performances echo the quality and dedication of Florence Nightingale. The award, now presented by the Colorado Nurses Association, is designed to honor nurses who demonstrate the uppermost levels of leadership, advocacy and innovation.

Florence Nightingale was the daughter of a wealthy British family who entered the nursing field in 1845. She did this despite her family’s strong objections.

Today, we can gaze back and say we’re fortunate to have had such a hardy, giving person, with such a pioneering spirit, in the medical field. She helped put the nursing profession on track to become what it is today. Thanks to her efforts and insights, hospital sanitation methods were reformed and greatly improved.

Poudre Valley Health System registered nurses have been well-represented at the winners’ podium for the statewide Nightingale Award. We also have had many finalists represented on the statewide level.

Our nurses who received the statewide honor in previous years were Jo zumBrunnen, Maureen Fields, Laura Lambird, Nancy Mershon, and Susan Markley Miller.

Their work assignments range from being a nursing director (Jo) and operating room nurse (Laura) to an oncology nurse (Maureen), gastronenterology nurse (Nancy) and cardiac specialist nurse (Susan).

Nightingale honorees are selected by a thorough grassroots process.

Nominations are developed by the colleagues, patients and family or friends of nurses. Nominations are sent to one of the appropriate six regional nurse organizations throughout the state. The nominations consist of essays about the nurse and letters of recommendation, and are reviewed on the regional level.

Each region hosts an awards ceremony where regional winners are nominated to compete for the six statewide awards. Our regional ceremony is held by the Centennial Area Health Education Center, which covers 10 counties in northeastern Colorado. The CAHEC also recognizes licensed practical nurses who are nominated through a similar process. However, LPNs don’t compete in the statewide Nightingale competition.

The CAHEC ceremony will be March 9 in Loveland, while the statewide ceremony will be May 19 in Denver.

This year we have 10 registered nurses nominated in the regional competition for becoming a finalist for the Nightingale honor. Here’s information on each:

  • Tamara Bockman, charge nurse in the Medical Center of the Rockies cardiac unit, was nominated for her team work, caring and ability to motivate others.
  • Mona Brower, an emergency room nurse at Poudre Valley Hospital, was recognized by colleagues for the way she provides comfort, compassion and stability for her patients.
  • Jennifer Ellis, who works in the PVH resource pool, was nominated for her outstanding care of patients and their families. (A note of explanation: When a nurse works in the resource pool, that means she or he may work in a variety of nursing departments during various shifts rather than being assigned to only one department.)
  • Another resource pool nurse, Tonya Gilmore, is known for the kindness and compassion that she demonstrates to MCR patients.
  • A PVH operating room nurse, Barbara Hardes, is a nurse educator who diligently pursues excellence not only in patient care but also in helping colleagues improve their skills.
  • Sue Larsen has held many patient-care positions during her 36 years in the profession. Recently, she has been a clinical quality specialist for our women and family services and is a strong advocate of quality care.
  • Another long-time nurse, Cheryl Milner, works in PVH’s surgical services and is highly respected for her grace and commitment to patients and improving health care.
  • Alene Nitzky, a PVH outpatient oncology nurse, is known for her passion for writing and giving presentations on health topics, particularly cancer, for the public. Alene also runs ultramarathons (100+ miles) to raise funds for our campaign to build a regional cancer center.
  • Susan Webster, a nurse in our health system for 24 years, has been a leader in improving emergency services for the survivors of sexual assault. Susan championed an effort to start the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program within PVHS.
  • Karen Wikholm, an extremely talented nurse who works in general surgery for Poudre Valley Medical Group.

Each nurse is known for specific personal qualities and professional commitments. But that is only part of the story. Each is highly educated. Each has had extreme success in caring for patients.

And each is the type of nurse who provides the high-quality care, compassion, dedication, advocacy, and innovation that any person with a healthcare need would want.

I wish each of the nine nurses the best of luck in the Nightingale competition. Each one is a Florence Nightingale in her own right!


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During the weekend, the Greeley Tribune published a package of staff-written news articles and guest editorials that focused on health care in Greeley and Weld County. I was asked to write a guest editorial that looked at the future of Poudre Valley Health System’s involvement there.

Simply put, the future is exciting and full of additional healthcare benefits and options for the people we serve.

PVHS will continue to provide high-quality care that is easily accessible for Greeley and Weld County residents. Our commitment to high quality and easy access is also the same for the other people we serve in the large region that PVHS covers in northern Colorado, Wyoming and southwestern Nebraska.

I have to say, though, that it is critically important to look at the recent past and what’s happening now in the Greeley medical scene to be aware of what may happen in the future.

Because my guest editorial had the usual 600-word limit for guest editorials in the Tribune, I was unable to delve into the historical perspective that I believe is critical. In my editorial I asked readers to come to my blog to learn more of the details about all that is happening in Weld County.

During the last 10 or 12 years, I have received phone calls from dozens of physicians who practice in different medical specialties in Greeley. They all had a similar concern, a major one.

They believed they were being disenfranchised by the Greeley medical establishment—specifically by Banner Health, which manages North Colorado Medical Center and has corporate headquarters in Phoenix—and this, they told me, resulted in their careers, their lives and their families being turned upside down. Many physicians revealed to me that they felt like they were being driven out of the community.

For several years I referred these physicians back to Greeley medical leaders hoping they would promote a solution.

During this same period, Poudre Valley Health System focused on finding collaborative ways to work with local physicians in Fort Collins and Loveland to provide high-quality patient care in our region.

Our collaborative efforts resulted in Poudre Valley Hospital, Fort Collins, being named in 2000 as the first Magnet Hospital for Nursing Excellence between Los Angeles and Minnesota. Today PVH is one of only 17 hospitals to have received the designation three times in a row. Our Medical Center of the Rockies, which opened in 2007 in Loveland, received the designation nearly the moment the hospital was eligible.

Additionally, during this time PVHS started the first American College of Surgeons-verified level II trauma center in northern Colorado; began the first robotic surgery program in our region; and developed the region’s busiest heart program.

PVHS also became the first recipient and remains the only two-time recipient of the Colorado’s highest quality award, the Peak Performance Award presented by the Colorado Performance Excellence Program. In mid-January, PVHS became the only Colorado-owned and -operated health system to be selected as one of the nation’s top 15 health systems.

The most notable honor was when the President of the United States announced that Poudre Valley Health System was selected to receive the nation’s highest quality award, the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. PVHS is one of only 15 healthcare organizations ever to receive that honor.

While PVHS was distinguishing itself locally, regionally and nationally, the issue of physician disenfranchisement in Greeley continued.

Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it. I encourage you to find any physician who has practiced in Greeley for more than a decade and ask if my assessment is accurate. I believe the chances are excellent that you’ll receive an answer similar to what I wrote above.

A few years ago the physicians with the Greeley Medical Clinic, the largest and oldest multi-specialty medical group in northern Colorado, realized they faced irresolvable issues with Banner Health. They began an exhaustive and objective search for a partner which they believe would work with them to put their patients first.

So that’s how GMC and PVHS linked up. We had fruitful talks and discovered mutual hopes and dreams and goals for high quality care for Greeley and Weld County residents.

In a comparatively short period of time, it became clear that the visions of GMC and PVHS were identical: Patients must come first and the care they receive must be extremely high quality … and the best way to achieve this is to maintain local control over healthcare decisions.

After many in-depth discussions and planning sessions, GMC physicians and PVHS leaders agreed to an affiliation.

This decision led to PVHS expanding its world-class care to Greeley and Weld County. In partnership with the outstanding physicians and staff of GMC in Greeley, we have continued to expand by developing new services, opening medical facilities in Windsor, bringing the Aspen Club and Healthy Kids Club into Greeley, and employing 1,100 Greeley and Weld County residents.

While PVHS has continued to offer more healthcare services to Greeley and Weld County, some vocal and very uninformed pundits have suggested that PVHS began serving the city and county solely to “steal away” or “cherry-pick” patients from Greeley.

Some pundits have said this even as we grow and expand services in Greeley.

Our most recent addition—a full service emergency room and one-day surgery center—will be completed in west Greeley by the fall of this year. We are excited that this project will enhance care and accessibility, and create even more healthcare options for Greeley residents without their having to travel very far from their homes.

The new medical facility is an example of the exact reason why GMC chose to affiliate with PVHS. Their decision was not about market share or budgets or filling patient beds. Instead, it had everything to do with GMC physicians wanting to be decision-making members of an organization that works closely with physicians to accomplish mutual goals for providing high-quality care for their patients.

During these last two successful years since the GMC-PVHS affiliation was formed, the same ill-informed pundits have continued to criticize PVHS by incorrectly portraying us an outsider bent on stealing away patients.

Such an accusation does a great disservice to 79 years of service to Greeley and Weld Country by the Greeley Medical Clinic. If GMC is not Greeley-born and -bred…who is, then?

The process that resulted in GMC stepping away from Banner Health seems to have played itself out all over again last spring, this time with an even more abrupt change.

This occurred when the long-experienced and very distinguished emergency physician group in Greeley was suddenly and surprisingly dismissed from practicing at North Colorado Medical Center. The service these highly skilled physicians provided was nationally ranked and medically respected.

So, once again, a significant number of physicians felt disenfranchised from work and life in Greeley. I heard from many of them.

To continue living in or near Greeley and to remain true to their commitment to serve local patients, many of these physicians elected to join Emergency Physicians of the Rockies, an independent physician group in Northern Colorado. These highly qualified physicians will staff the emergency services part of our center under construction in west Greeley, once again providing the same outstanding emergency services that have distinguished them for years. And they will provide this service while continuing to live and work and raise their children in Greeley…just as GMC physicians have done for generations.

Because the medical leadership of Greeley’s air ambulance was also imbedded in this group of emergency physicians, we elected to ask them to continue providing their outstanding service by creating our own helicopter program. For many years PVHS used the air ambulance service at NCMC because it provided a high quality and trusted service. Our service will now continue with those same medical leaders who have lived and worked in the Greeley community.

PVHS has moved ahead on the air ambulance program because we see a great need and opportunity for regionalized services. Our program, which will start this spring, will feature a helicopter specially designed to safely transfer patients out of such high-altitude areas as Rocky Mountain National Park.

Collaboration with regional providers is the type of relationship that we have always tried to develop and foster. Last year I approached NCMC leaders with the hope that we could also find a way to work together and avoid duplication on the many medical services needed in Greeley, Weld County and the rest of northern Colorado.

Unfortunately, I was told that they were unwilling to meet if the local Greeley physicians were involved. Of course, that type of attitude appears to me to be a driver behind what has happened to physicians in Greeley. Just so you know, we—PVHS—will always work first with physicians in trying to create healthcare solutions in the region.

To return to the focus of the Tribune’s news package … What is the future of health care in Greeley and Weld County?

The answer:

PVHS is there now…and GMC has been there for longer than most of us have been alive. We will continue to work closely with local physicians who have cared for generations of Weld County and Greeley patients. Care will be provided in Greeley and, for Windsor-area patients, in Windsor.

We will provide high quality care. We will make sure patients come first.

We will be there today, tomorrow and far beyond.


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I just got some great news: Thomson Reuters has named Poudre Valley Health System one of the top 15 health systems in the country.

Compared to their peers, systems that earned that distinction saved more lives and caused fewer patient complications, followed industry-recommended standards of care more closely, made fewer patient safety errors, released patients half a day sooner and scored better on overall patient satisfaction, according to Thomson Reuters.

While patients, not awards, are what drives us at PVHS, we always appreciate it when outsiders validate the quality of care Poudre Valley Health System delivers to its patients.

Our press release includes more detail about what the ranking means and how Thomson Reuters calculated it.


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“The patient was cold and left alone with no blanket.”

“Everyone was personable.”

“The family was frustrated.”

“The nurse never smiled.”

“I knew he was busy but he took the time anyway, and that meant a lot to me.”

Read on, please, and you’ll see that these are some of the positive and negative comments that we share with our staff of employees, volunteers and physicians.

This transparency is contrary to what some organizations do. Some organizations, I know, want to hide negative customer comments from the world, including their own employees. That type of tactic makes it challenging for an organization to improve system-wide.

In my last blog, I discussed the importance of listening to employees to make an organization successful, especially in the healthcare profession.

I want to emphasize that it’s just as important to hear back from your customers—in the case of health care, from our patients and their family members.

Since the time when I started this blog in 2010 (this is my 211th blog), I’ve written now and then about the formal patient satisfaction survey that a private surveying firm conducts on an ongoing basis for us.

Typically, the feedback we receive through these survey shows most of our clinical efforts meet or exceed the expectations of most patients. We share survey results with all of our staff members every month. Employees in departments and work units use the results to create improvement plans for their areas.

There’s another form of customer feedback that I think is extremely important: unsolicited letters or comments that we receive from patients and their family members.

It’s just as important for our staff members to learn how they have done things well as it is for them to learn which areas they can improve in. So we share letters and comments—both positive and negative—by posting them in a standing column named “Kudos and Raspberries” on our employee intranet.

We share this information as a way to help spark our staff members’ creativity for developing ways to maintain high quality and continue to make improvements.

The following are a few examples of kudos and raspberries that we have now or have had recently posted on our intranet.

You’ll notice each comment is preceded by a quoted phrase in boldface. The phrase is taken from a toolkit, Every Person Every Time, which we provide to employees, volunteers and physicians to remind them about important aspects of customer service. (I’ll write about the toolkit in my next blog. It’s an important component of our customer service standards!).

Please note, too, that we keep confidential the identities of patients and family members whose comments and letters we share. In this spirit of confidentiality, sometimes we might summarize a comment as accurately as possible or insert “he” or “she” or other words in a letter to maintain the author’s anonymity.


Success: “Compassion and courtesy before efficiency”…

•  “I had so many questions about my discharge and the doctor took the time to give me more information so that I felt comfortable before I left. I knew he was busy but he took the time anyway, and that meant a lot to me.”

Success: “Commit to excellence by owning every encounter”…

•  “The lady at the registration desk took me to where I needed to go even though it was not an area where she worked. I don’t come into hospitals often, and it can be overwhelming to figure out where I need to go. I appreciated the assistance.”

•  “Everyone was so personable. The man who came in to clean my room always introduced himself before he started working. It made me feel like I was not just another patient in a bed. He made me feel like a person.”


Failed: “Commit to excellence by owning every encounter”…

•  Better communication was needed around scheduling. The patient waited in surgery for three hours in the prep room since the doctor was still busy elsewhere. The patient could have been more comfortable waiting in her own room. Today she was supposed to have physical therapy but again no communication about when this would happen.

•  The family members were frustrated because they saw the doctor in the morning, but not since then. No one had given them the lab results yet, even though the results are in.

•  The patient noted when she was left alone she was cold, with no blanket and no call light nearby. She was not sure what was wrong with her. She recalled the nurse never smiled at her.”

Such feedback is important. It helps to remind our staff members—through examples—of what they can do individually to provide quality service to our patients, family members and others. I think other organizations would benefit by sharing, too.


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One of the greatest opportunities of being the president and CEO of Poudre Valley Health System is that I often receive the most sincere thank-you cards you can imagine.

I know that George Hayes, FACHE, president and CEO of the Medical Center of the Rockies, and Kevin Unger, FACHE, president and CEO of Poudre Valley Hospital, both receive a huge number as well.

However, George and the staff at MCR received one recently that was truly unique.

This is a YouTube video thank you from Don Koralewski and his family to thank the physicians, nurses and staff at MCR for their great care.

Honestly…how cool is this?

Make sure you watch until the end…the kids are adorable!

Thank you to the staff members who took care of Don and his family. I know all of our patients throughout the health system receive this same level of care. This makes me so proud!

Thanks all…and thanks for taking the time to send this, Don!


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After long and hard consideration last year, PVHS made the decision to require mandatory flu vaccinations for PVHS employees. 

There was as much discussion on the topic as any that I have posted on my blog.  Many sincere, well-meaning people disagreed with the decision, and I appreciate the candor and willingness of employees who disagree to openly share their opinions.

With the flu season rapidly approaching, I was intrigued to see this communication from the American Hospital Association: AHA Endorses Patient Safety Policies Requiring Influenza Vaccination of Health Care Workers.

While this policy statement by the AHA confirms the decision made by PVHS well ahead of the rest of the industry, I know the topic remains a concern for many.

The PVHS policy in 2011-2012 will not change from last year. 

However, I do believe that it is important to note what others in the industry are doing, and to point out that, whether you agree or disagree, our only intent in creating this policy is to improve patient safety.


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