The rigors of applying for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award helped Memorial Hermann Sugar Land (Texas) Hospital to successfully plan a new patient tower.

"As we began to discuss that expansion project, we were able to take the learnings of our Baldrige journey into how we were going to build that tower," says Greg Haralson, the hospital's senior vice president and CEO. "It raises the bar for every patient who walks in the door moving forward."  

 A winner of the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in the health care category, Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital is one of only two Chest Pain Center-accredited hospitals in Fort Bend County, a region with nearly 700,000 residents just southwest of Houston. It provides a dedicated pediatric emergency center and is a Joint Center of Excellence in the areas of diabetes education, joint replacement program and bariatric/weight-loss surgery.

The hospital also is the anchor for more than 20 associated care centers in the Sugar Land area that provide primary and specialty care services in cardiology, diagnostics, emergency care, imaging, occupational therapy, oncology, physical therapy, rehabilitation, sleep disorders, speech therapy, sports medicine, surgery and urgent care.  

Memorial Hermann began its quest for the Baldrige Award approximately six years ago, a year and a half before Haralson became CEO. "It's been a very rewarding process to be able to claim patient safety as a core compentency through this process," he says. "Our patients are much safer because of the hard work that goes into establishing repeatable processes that are the right processes."

The new patient tower, which added 62 beds (for a total of 149), opened in September. Haralson says that working to achieve distinction in the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence in such areas as strategic planning and customer and market focus helped the hospital to formulate the details of the expansion.

"That was exciting, to be able to have the culmination of that tower manifest itself through utilizing the criteria to the benefit of not just our patients, but everyone who's going to walk through the doors," he says. 

Haralson says winning the Baldrige award raises the hospital's expectations, "and we're prepared to meet that new standard."

The other Baldrige award winner in the health care category was Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation–Mountain Valley in Kellogg, Idaho.

Working through the Baldrige process helped Kindred–Mountain Valley improve in such areas as strategic planning, says Executive Director Maryruth Butler.

"When we started our journey, we were a good center," she says. "Now we've gotten better."

Butler notes that Kindred–Mountain Valley is located in a rural area and serves high-acuity patients. "One resident can have a direct impact on our quality indicators. Reviewing that patient prior to [his or her] entering our environment on what we need to have up front, to make sure that [the patient doesn't] deteriorate, that's what we have to own."

Butler adds that "this quality journey should be something that all leadership teams should be looking at. It's the right thing to do. You can certainly have measurable outcomes by doing it."

The awards, announced in November, will be presented in April.