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Association Honors Six for Quality, Population Health

Carl Graziano
June 29, 2015


America’s Essential Hospitals, whose members care for the nation’s vulnerable patients, has recognized six member hospitals for their outstanding work to improve quality and population health.

The association announced 2015 Gage Award winners at its annual conference, VITAL2015, in San Diego. The awards celebrate creative and successful programs that enhance patient care and meet community needs.

“Gage Award winners are exceptional examples of the work our hospitals do every day to improve health care quality and outcomes in their communities,” said America’s Essential Hospitals President and CEO Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH.

2015 Award for Population Health

This award recognizes activities that improve delivery, access, or value for specific populations and improve health outcomes.

Winner: Lee Memorial Health System (Fort Myers, Florida) for Healthy Lee – Choose. Commit. Change. Healthy Lee is a countywide effort to improve the health of residents and the care delivery system. Improvements included 322 new beds; a new psychiatric hospital; detox beds; new, intensive, outpatient mental health services; and comprehensive crisis intervention training for law enforcement. More than 300 organizations in Lee County now actively contribute to Healthy Lee.

“Helping our community improve its overall health and wellbeing requires significant collaboration. This national recognition demonstrates that diverse organizations can do great things through a shared vision,” said Lee Memorial Health System (LMHS) President Jim Nathan. “The Gage award, while presented to LMHS, is really shared by more than 300 organizations throughout Lee County dedicated to improving the health status of southwest Florida residents.”

Honorable Mention: Eskenazi Health (Indianapolis) for the Eskenazi Health Integrative Pain Program. The 6- to 10-month Integrative Pain Program couples psychological and physical rehabilitation to help manage pain and aid recovery. Using a variety of treatments – including hypnosis, relaxation techniques, and food as medicine – the program has significantly reduced pain pill use, fatigue levels, and the incidence of pain interfering with daily activities among participants.

“The Eskenazi Health Integrative Pain Program is a participation-based program. It aspires to create a new understanding and level of function that allows patients to reinhabit their lives with less pain and with greater function,” said Palmer MacKie, MD, the program’s director. “We have been able to accomplish this by focusing on patient interests; exercise; and reducing the burden of mental illness, substance abuse, and inappropriate opioid use.”

Honorable Mention: Jersey City Medical Center – Barnabas Health (Jersey City, New Jersey) for Wealth from Health: Patient Engagement Incentive Program. Wealth from Health is a self-managed health promotion program that ties reward points to completion of disease education models and care plan compliance. Costs and utilization for the emergency department and hospital fell, based on a comparison of one year before the intervention and one year after.

“Jersey City Medical Center is focused on individuals having a healthier lifestyle,” said President and CEO Joseph F. Scott. “We believe ‘Life is Better Healthy,’ and this award recognizes the members of our accountable care organization for creating a program that reduces hospital admissions, readmissions, and length of stay. This program is showing great results and we look forward to sharing our successes with other hospitals.”

2015 Award for Improving Quality

This award recognizes activities that improve the quality of care delivered, or reduce or eliminate events that harm individual patients or groups of patients.

Winner: Kern Medical Center (Bakersfield, California) for Decreasing Hospital-Acquired Pressure Ulcers, Improving Patient Care. In 2011, Kern Medical Center developed a multidisciplinary process improvement team to reduce the hospital-acquired pressure ulcers (HAPU) prevalence rate. Using rapid-cycle process improvement, the hospital saw a substantial decrease in its HAPU prevalence rate – from 7.8 to 0.6 percent between July 2010 and June 2014.

“We are pleased that America’s Essential Hospital has recognized our staff with this Gage Award,” said Russell Judd, Kern Medical Center’s CEO. “Our hospital, staff, and physicians have the strongest commitment to our patients’ safety, including reducing hospital-acquired pressure ulcers. It is our hope that our work in this area has not only improved the care for our patients, but also serves as a model for others.”

Honorable Mention: Norwegian American Hospital (NAH) (Chicago) for Transformation of Perinatal Quality in an Essential Hospital. An NAH initiative dramatically improved perinatal quality, reducing fetal deaths from 11 to 6 and neonatal deaths from 4 to 3 over the course of the intervention. The hysterectomy rate in hemorrhage patients fell, rates of vaginal births after a cesarean section improved, and early elective deliveries before 39 weeks declined, among other achievements.

“We’re very proud and honored to be recognized nationally for the work we’ve done to improve the care of some of our most vulnerable patients,” said José R. Sánchez, president and CEO of Norwegian American Hospital. “Our clinical staff is dedicated to providing safe and appropriate service delivery that is central to a high-quality perinatal program. It’s a team effort all around.”

Honorable Mention: University Health System (UHS) (San Antonio) for A Su Salud Colorectal Cancer Health Promotion Program. UHS created a culturally concordant navigation program to increase colorectal cancer screening rates in high-risk Hispanic men by eliminating financial, systemic, cultural, and personal barriers to care. From 2008 to 2010, UHS’ screening rate increased from 10 percent to 86 percent and the system reduced per-screening costs by 23 percent.

“This has been a gratifying project for everyone involved, one that not only brought lifesaving cancer screenings to a hard-to-reach group, but demonstrated a real cost savings in the process,” said George B. Hernández Jr., UHS president and CEO. We’re very pleased to be recognized for its success.”

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About America’s Essential Hospitals
America’s Essential Hospitals is the leading association and champion for hospitals dedicated to equitable, high-quality care for all, including those who face social and financial barriers to care. Since 1981, America’s Essential Hospitals has advanced policies and programs that promote health, health care access, and equity. We support our more than 300 members with advocacy, policy development, research, education, and leadership development. Communities depend on essential hospitals for care across the continuum, health care workforce training, research, public health and health equity, and other services. Essential hospitals innovate and adapt to lead all of health care toward better outcomes and value.

Carl Graziano

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