Quality scores at Washoe Medical South no fluke

As administrators of Washoe Medical Center South Meadows prepared to open the hospital nearly two years ago, they brought dozens of just-pretend patients through its emergency room.

The goal: To fine-tune patient care before real patients arrived.

And these days, line managers stand up once a month and report their quality scores to their peers.

The hospital's focus on the delivery of quality patient care then measuring and reporting the results earns top marks from an independent research firm.

The company, Press Ganey Associates, says that customer service at the emergency room at Washoe Med South ranks in the 98th percentile among 155 small hospitals in the West.

And on several specifics such as quality of nurses, the registration process and the time patients spend waiting, the Press Ganey Associates survey said the Reno hospital ranks in the 99th percentile.

The emergency room has ranked in the survey's 90th percentile above for six consecutive quarters.

The key to good performance, says Washoe Med South Meadows Administrator Alan Olive, started with the hiring process.

"While skill sets were certainly important, we hired our staff based on their attitude and desire for service," he says.

It's reinforced daily.

A question of the day for example, "Have we kept you informed?" provides immediate feedback to staff members about a segment of customer service.

The trial runs before the hospital opened provided other information.

For instance, Tina Carbone, the registered nurse who manages the emergency department, says patients never are left in a waiting room. If the triage room is occupied, a nurse takes the patient to a bed and triages them there.

And Olive says data gathered from patient surveys such as the Press Ganey Associates study get a close look by first-line managers on a monthly basis.

"They stand and deliver," he says.

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