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Award Recognizes Abraham Lincoln Memorial for Quality of Patient Care, Safety

By Dolan Dalpoas

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[February 19, 2008]  Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital and the other affiliates of Memorial Health System were honored as one of only five organizations in Illinois to earn a 2007 Silver Award for Progress Towards Excellence from the Lincoln Foundation for Performance Excellence.

Local Memorial Health System employees unveiled a Silver Award for Progress Towards Excellence during ALMH ceremonies on Monday. From left are Susan Shull, Family Medical Center administrator; Carol Gangster-Fisher, Lincoln Foundation for Performance Excellence program manager; Sharon Baker, ALMH Employee of the Year Rene Barr, ALMH Nurse of the Year; and Gene Frioli, with Logan-Mason Rehabilitation Center.

Based on the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Criteria, the not-for-profit foundation's Lincoln Awards are the end-result of a thorough analytical process that encourages organizations to achieve their fullest potential. Memorial Health System submitted its application for a Lincoln Award last spring. That was followed by a three-day site visit in September, when a highly trained team of examiners reviewed processes, questioned methods and interacted with staff at all levels of our organization.

On Monday, Abraham Lincoln Memorial staff, physicians and volunteers celebrated our achievement during brief ceremonies at the hospital. They were joined by representatives of other Memorial Health System affiliates serving Lincoln and Logan County, including Family Medical Center, Memorial Home Services' Lincoln Medical Equipment, Logan-Mason Mental Health and Logan-Mason Rehabilitation Center. This award is a tribute to the staff, physicians and volunteers of our hospital and those of Memorial Health System's other affiliates for their exceptional work toward quality, safety and clinical effectiveness.

The award itself, however, was not the focus of our attention. Most important is what the award means to our community -- the people who place their trust in us to provide the best possible care for illness and injury.

We would not have earned this award without an unfailing commitment toward improving patient safety, clinical effectiveness and quality of care. Recognizing that health care is a science and not an art, we focus on quality improvements that can be measured to ensure that we achieve our goal of better clinical outcomes and improved quality of patient experiences.

One of the significant steps that help us achieve this level of recognition is the health system's annual quality and safety audit. These annual audits allow us to assess, identify and improve the care and service we provide to our patients and communities. By taking an honest and critical look at ourselves, we uncover opportunities to improve the care we provide and to acknowledge and celebrate our strengths.

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Memorial Health System recently completed its eighth annual quality and safety audit. A 21-member audit team interviewed more than 550 employees, including 73 at Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital, and studied numerous patient medical records. This team works with staff to assess how well we adhere to national patient safety goals, including safe use of medication, reducing the risk of infection and reducing the risk of harm from patient falls.

These audits as well as the Lincoln Foundation site visits help measure the strength of the ongoing commitment to patient-centered care that our employees deliver each and every day.

Our selection to receive a Lincoln Silver Award provides the residents of Lincoln and the Logan County area with assurance that our process for improving patient safety, clinical effectiveness and quality of care is strong. To be sure, we have more work to do. One of the invaluable benefits from a Lincoln Foundation site visit is the feedback report that provides a clear direction on how to improve patient care.

Going forward, we will deepen our commitment to our patients, providing the people of Lincoln and Logan County with leadership in health care. We will work hard to improve patient safety, clinical effectiveness and quality of care as well as support evidence-based medicine. For example, that means providing timely antibiotics before surgery to help reduce postoperative infections and making sure that high-risk patients receive flu or pneumonia vaccinations before discharge to help prevent respiratory-related readmissions.

As we do, even greater achievements in patient care will be realized. And all will be better served as we fulfill our mission of helping to maintain, restore and improve the health of the people and communities we serve.

[By DOLAN DALPOAS, president and chief executive officer, Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital]

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