Nanticoke Hospital receives national honor

By Lynn R. Parks

Tom Brown didn't want to put up a billboard advertising Nanticoke Memorial Hospital until he had something significant to put on it. "And this is significant," the hospital spokesman told employees Tuesday afternoon. In January, a billboard will go up on U.S. 13, just south of Seaford, proclaiming that the hospital is the winner of the Compass Award, given out annually by Press Ganey Associates, a national company that helps hospitals improve their service. Nanticoke is one of three hospitals its size to receive the award, given to facilities that improve customer satisfaction. According to patient feedback collected by Press Ganey, Nanticoke improved satisfaction significantly in seven areas: nursing, doctor services, housekeeping, admissions, food service, lab services and discharge planning. At the Tuesday employee reception, the hospital unveiled advertisements that are part of a campaign to highlight each of those areas. "We wanted to show all the staff how we are going to tell the whole community that wonderful things are happening here," Brown said. Hospital administrator Mark Rappaport, who just started his job October 29, told the employees that the Compass Award is a testament to their hard work. "It is a testament to you for being able to sustain your performance with the challenges the organization has sustained over the past couple of years," he said. The hospital has faced financial difficulties, posting losses the last two years. Last December, then administrator Dan Werner stepped down in the face of those losses. "We are going to improve even further," Rappaport told the employees. "Trust me  when we come out on the other end, we will be an even better Nanticoke than we are today."

Lori Jones, patient services manager, accepted the Compass Award at the Press Ganey national conference, held in November in Kissimmee, Fla. She said that it is particularly significant that Nanticoke was able to improve patient satisfaction in a short period of time. The hospital contracted with Press Ganey in February 2005. "That we were able to have such good improvement is a compliment to the staff, who worked hard to give the patients what they need," she said. "We want to make sure that we have even greater improvement." In a write-up for the Press Ganey conference, Jones wrote that the hospital started its improvements by developing standards of performance for all staff, including basic guidelines on how to treat patients and fellow employees. "All employees attended sessions where these standards were presented, and each employee had the opportunity to sign an agreement stating that they would follow the expected behaviors," she wrote. The plan for improvement included incentives for employees and conferences focusing on the standards. "The biggest area of improvement at Nanticoke has been the food service program," Jones wrote. "We have experienced an extreme change in our meal scores, climbing from single percentile rankings to the 80s." Jones attributes that improvement to the hospital's "At Your Request" food service program, through which patients can order meals from a menu throughout the day. Last year, the hospital hired chef Shawn West to head up its kitchen. On Tuesday, an ice sculpture West created of the hospital's new Compass Award statue was on display in the hospital lobby.

News tips wanted
Call us with ideas for news and features. We're always looking for good stories to share with readers. Call Bryant Richardson at 629-9788.