Contact: Karl Hertz
The number one priority at Memorial Hospital of Converse County is patients and providing them with quality patient care. That focus is evident in the most recent patient satisfaction surveys from Medicare.gov. According to that survey, 85 percent of patients gave the hospital nines or tens on the patient satisfaction survey. While the national average is only 71 percent, Memorial Hospital of Converse County's high satisfaction numbers put the facility higher than most hospitals in the state with only one at the same percentage rate, and another at just two percentage points higher.
With Memorial Hospital of Converse County out ranking so many other facilities across the state and country, CEO Ryan Smith said it's important to note that those patient satisfaction numbers didn't occur overnight. The hospital leadership has been on a more than five year mission to improve not only patient satisfaction numbers, but also employee satisfaction statistics as well.
When Smith first came to the hospital in 2011, he was excited about the many strengths the hospital and community offered. A well-equipped facility with strong community support, Memorial Hospital of Converse County had a solid backbone that provided a unique opportunity to make it even more robust. Smith and his leadership team began by taking a close look at the internal culture of the hospital.
"We wanted to fix the culture of the organization and reset the values of the hospital," Smith said. "We wanted to create values we believed in and that we could all live by."
A value leadership team was soon created to identify the core values of the hospital and the behaviors that would support them. Ultimately, that team identified seven core values – competency, compassion, ownership, joy, respect, integrity and patient-centered.
"It sets the expectations for how physicians, leadership and staff are going to behave," Smith said. "And we're all held to those standards."
With the values in place, hospital officials began to tackle areas that had previously been lacking. One of the first areas addressed was employee satisfaction with the idea that if employees were happy, patients would be happy as well. As a member hospital of the Studer Group, MHCC received valuable insight and coaching to begin creating an environment that would build a culture that benefitted both employees and patients.
"It has to be a good place for people to work," Smith said. "We're all aligned to accomplish the same thing."
In building that value-based culture, local pastor Frank Wiederrecht was intrigued by the changes he was seeing implemented at the hospital. For a number of years, Wiederrecht had ministered to hospital patients and was impressed by the value-based approach the hospital was taking and wanted to get involved.
"Values are what I live and breathe and it's what I've given my life to," Wiederrecht said. "I knew that this was a good thing and I wanted to be part of that."
Today, Wiederrecht serves as the culture officer at MHCC and focuses his work at the hospital around those seven values the hospital has identified. From training new employees to working with managers to include those values in their day-to-day lives, Wiederrecht is the driver behind seeing those values adhered to at the hospital and beyond.
"If staff are living the values, it's going to be a good place for providers to work," Wiederrecht said. "This is who we've decided to be and it puts us all on an even playing field."
Now with the values firmly in place and an ongoing focus to improve the work environment, managerial training, patient outcomes and much more, both employees and patients of Memorial Hospital of Converse County are seeing the results reflected in patient satisfaction scores across the board.
As the employee satisfaction numbers increased, the patient satisfaction scores followed. Not only did 85 percent of patients give Memorial Hospital of Converse County a rating of nine or ten in the most recent survey, earning four out of five stars, but the hospital also was above the state average in eight of the eleven patient survey categories. From patients who "strongly agree" they understood their care when they left the hospital to patients who reported that they "always" received help as soon as they wanted, Memorial Hospital of Converse County leads many of the other Wyoming hospitals in patient survey results.
"Our providers and staff are what make Memorial Hospital different from other hospitals in the area and our commitment to our people allows them to focus on our patients," Smith said. "We often say we treat our patients like our family, friends, and neighbors because they are."