3 leaders of award-winning hospitals on achieving nursing excellence

In January, Press Ganey, a leading healthcare performance improvement company, recognized seven hospitals that maintained outstanding nursing in the midst of staff shortages, budget cuts and overcrowding. 

Becker's asked three of the award winners to share their methods.

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Paula Bostwick, MSN, RN. Vice President of Hospital Services at Parkview Behavioral Health Institute (Fort Wayne, Ind.): Across the country, healthcare workers have seen a dramatic increase in dangerous and violent encounters with patients. At Parkview Behavioral Health Institute's inpatient hospitals, we recognized that we had to provide our nurses with tools beyond traditional crisis prevention training. Partnering with our safety coordinator and public safety, our nursing team created skills labs to practice de-escalation techniques, proper use of restraints, safe exit of seclusion rooms and interventions for the stages of violence development. Our nurses built scenarios, led the sessions and provided feedback to their peers. These labs not only increased co-workers' skills in this area, but also strengthened teamwork across inpatient behavioral services.

Like other organizations, Parkview has also needed to use travel nurses. We've worked to build strong relationships with these nurses, and we've integrated them into all of our education and events. As a result, we have travel nurses who have stayed with us for an extended period of time. They are held to the same standards and expectations as Parkview nurses, which has helped us continue to drive consistency across our hospital. It has also resulted in a waiting list of travel nurses who want to work at our behavioral health hospital.

Derrek Hidalgo, BSN, RN. Vice President of Nursing Services and Chief Nursing Officer at Craig Hospital (Englewood, Colo.): The ability to support nursing success during and after the heart of a pandemic was — and is — challenging, and Craig Hospital dedicated itself to examining how nursing was trending and evolving as an industry. After I came to Craig as CNO last May, our nursing leadership team had the opportunity to reset and concentrate on areas we needed to focus on for our post-COVID plans. 

Our primary focus over the past year has been to go back to the basics and really listen to our staff at the bedside — to truly hear what they have to say about their concerns and then give executive support. We listened to their feedback regarding higher acuity patients, the safety of staff at the bedside, industry staffing shortages and salary equity for both longtime staff and new hires. While addressing those concerns, we engaged our management-level nursing leadership to adjust their roles to extend leadership presence beyond frontline care. We also committed to providing a leadership track to continue to develop our team as leaders and identify their needs for improved team dynamics, interpersonal development and professional growth. Together, these efforts have collectively moved our work forward to support and invest in our nursing team at Craig Hospital as they provide excellent and empowering nursing care.

Mary Sullivan Smith, DNP, RN. Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Vice President at New England Baptist Hospital (Boston): Our nurses are expert, dedicated, and compassionate with a strong sense of pride in the care and services they deliver. NEBH nurses are integral to our success. Over the last year, a renewed focus on health and well-being has evolved. Our open and honest communication with NEBH nurses provided insight into self-care opportunities. This included expanded mindfulness training, stress reducing techniques and leveraging ideas from our professional governance councils to further advance a supportive professional practice environment. NEBH nurses are resilient. The ever-changing and dynamic healthcare landscape has placed staff wellness, and the development of a healthy workplace in the forefront of nursing leadership. NEBH is actively advancing this essential platform.

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