Hospital wins Zia award

By Rosalie Rayburn / Journal Staff Writer

Registered Nurse Crystal McClain listens to patient Steven Thompson’s heart in the medical surgical unit at the Lovelace Westside Hospital. The hospital has a program that enables nurses and other employees to help develop new ideas to improve patient care. (ROSALIE RAYBURN/JOURNAL)

Communications systems that involve all employees and a program that encourages innovation in patient care helped earn Lovelace Westside Hospital the top accolade from Quality New Mexico, the organization that recognizes excellence in business.

The 80-bed hospital at Golf Course and McMahon NW is the 2012 recipient of the Zia Award, joining 13 other organizations in New Mexico that have earned similar recognition for the demonstrated quality of the way they handle day-to-day business operations.

Aaron Gallegos, a registered nurse at Lovelace Westside Hospital, checks doctors’ orders for patients in the medical surgical unit. The hospital has won the Zia Award from Quality New Mexico recognizing organizational excellence.

Lovelace Westside’s regular town hall-style meetings, in-house newsletter and frequent all-staff memos, which keep the hospital’s 370 full- and part-time employees who work round-the-clock shifts informed about daily operations, were key to earning the award, said Reuben Murray, the hospital’s chief financial officer.

“It was the engagement of our workforce,” Murray said, adding that the leadership values communication among employees at all levels.

Earning the award involved a rigorous process that included scrutiny of every aspect of the hospital’s activities, including a team from Quality New Mexico spending two days exploring the hospital and talking to staff.

“They want to see if people (employees) at the line level see things the same way as the leaders,” Murray said.

The award criteria are based on standards developed by the national Baldrige program, whose mission is to improve the performance and competitiveness of U.S. businesses in the global economy.

Another factor, Murray said, is “Transforming Care at the Bedside,” a national program the hospital adopted about three years ago. The program enables frontline employees involved in direct patient care to try out new ideas on a small scale to see whether they offer improvements in care and daily operations.

“It gives frontline staff ownership of the ideas,” said hospital CEO Farron Sneed.

Lovelace Women’s Hospital in Albuquerque won the Zia Award in 2011. Other winners since it was launched in the mid-1990s include Don Chalmers Ford in 2005 and Presbyterian Healthcare Services in 2004.

Lovelace Westside received Quality New Mexico’s “Roadrunner” quality recognition – the level below Zia – in 2010 and 2011.

Murray said feedback from the previous two years’ experience helped it reach the top level award this year.

Lovelace Westside Hospital officials will officially receive the award – a sculpture made of onyx quarried near Belen – at a celebration at the Hyatt Regency in Albuquerque on Tuesday.

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