Sutter Davis Hospital is one of only three organizations nationwide to receive the 2013 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest presidential honor for organizations that demonstrate performance excellence through innovation, improvement and visionary leadership.
The award winners were announced Wednesday by U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, who named only Sutter Davis and two other American institutions — Baylor Regional Medical Center in Plano, Texas, and the Pewaukee School District in Pewaukee, Wis. This is the first time an organization in the Sacramento region has received the recognition.
The Baldrige Award has gone to fewer than 100 organizations since it was established by Congress in 1987. The initiative aims to promote competitiveness, quality and productivity throughout various industries.
Health care institutions became eligible for the competition in 1999. Eight California organizations have been recognized in the health care sector since then, most in the Bay Area or Southern California.
Sutter Davis CEO Janet Wagner said she was elated when she heard the news. She was quick to credit the hospital’s employees, without whom she said the award would not have been possible.
“It takes a team to take care of a patient and to provide health care in a community,” Wagner said. “First and foremost, I’d say our team here values providing safe patient care. Secondly, I’d say that we are supported by a tremendous system, Sutter Health, who has provided us with the tools we needed to do that.”
The hospital, at 2000 Sutter Place in West Davis, has been an affiliate of the Sacramento-based Sutter Health System since it was built in 1994. The hospital has 385 employees and 394 medical staff members, and is further supported by 100 volunteers.
Janice Bridge, chairwoman of the Sutter Davis Hospital Foundation board of directors, said, in spite of the CEO’s modesty, that the award comes as a tribute to the vision and leadership of Wagner, who 10 years ago challenged her staff to apply for the Baldrige Award.
“She had the vision to challenge her administrative team to think big,” Bridge said. “Each year the administrators and their staff members have identified changes that they felt would improve service to the patients within the hospital. Day by day, month by month and year by year, Sutter Davis Hospital, with a culture of concern and caring, grew and improved service to everyone who arrived at the hospital in need of care.”
Leadership is one of the seven categories in which award applicants are evaluated; others are work force focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; customer focus; operations focus; strategic planning; and results.
Wagner said the Baldrige Award criteria have informed the way Sutter Davis has tended to patients for the past five years. This approach has led the hospital to receive other honors as well, including the 2012 Governor’s Award for Performance Excellence from the California Council for Excellence.
Sutter Davis Hospital provides care in four fields: medical-surgical and intensive care, birthing, emergency care and surgical services. The hospital has performed well over the years in specific metrics like The Leapfrog Group’s survey of patient safety, in which it earned the top score earlier this year.
But, as Wagner explained, “You’re never really sure how good you until someone comes in and examines all of the different parts of your organization to see how you compare to the other top organizations in the country.”
Wagner and some of her team members will receive the award in April at the Quest for Excellence conference in Baltimore, Md. President Barack Obama congratulated the winners at last year’s conference, and it is likely that this custom will extend to Sutter Davis and other honorees in 2014.
The Sutter Davis leaders also will speak at the conference about what led them to this success, the first of many such presentations Wagner anticipates as a result of the award.
“(Sutter Davis will be considered) a role model hospital for the United States,” she said. “We will anticipate getting calls from hospitals and other organizations … who may want to understand how we manage our lines of business and what kind of processes that we have in place.”
Davis Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kemble Pope said Sutter’s award is yet another feather in Davis’ cap.
“Sutter Davis Hospital is a community gem that we’ve all been proud of for years,” he said. “Today’s announcement … is a testament to the leadership of CEO Janet Wagner and her amazing team of health care professionals. The Davis Chamber of Commerce is proud of their active support of our community and applauds their recognition.”
Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, also had words of praise for the hospital.
“I want to thank them for the excellent service they provide in Yolo County,” he said. “By almost every benchmark, Sutter Davis Hospital is one of the nation’s best hospitals. Davis residents are lucky to have them in our community.”
— Reach Brett Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett