Quality Rankings Soar With State and National Regulatory Bodies

By: Lindsey Dover  |  05/16/19



Habersham Medical Center (HMC) has received multiple quality awards this year in the areas of antibiotic stewardship, stroke, patient experience and standardized regulatory quality metrics.

In February, HMC received Gold Status on Georgia’s Department of Public Health (DPH) Honor Roll for Antibiotic Stewardship. Antibiotic stewardship is a set of best practice guidelines that help facilitate the proper usage of antibiotics thereby decreasing antibiotic resistance. According to DPH, The Georgia Honor Roll for Antibiotic Stewardship was established in 2014 by the Healthcare Associated Infections Advisory Committee. The goal of the program is to provide an incentive for acute care facilities and critical access hospitals to engage in antimicrobial stewardship. Angela Harpold, HMC’s director of pharmacy stated, “the Gold Status Award demonstrates our commitment to providing quality care to our patients and our community through our antibiotic stewardship initiatives”.In the same month, the Georgia Coverdell Acute Stroke Registry (GCASR) awarded HMC with three out of four awards for excellence in the care of stroke patients. In the category of hospitals with 26 to 100 beds, HMC won awards for having the highest proportion of eligible patients with a Door-to-Needle times less than 45 minutes; having the highest proportion of patients with a Door-to-Imaging times in less than 25 minutes and; having the highest achievement in dysphagia screening.

“I am extraordinarily pleased with the leadership in our Emergency Department that allows us to perform with such excellence,” said Lynn Boggs, HMC’s chief executive officer. “These awards indicate that we continue to be a high performing stroke center and we are proud to be that resource for the communities we serve.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability. HMC is working with the GCASR program to improve stroke care and decrease the degree of disability someone suffers after a stroke.

Habersham Medical Center’s overarching quality initiatives are measured through the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, also known as HCAHPS. Serving as a patient satisfaction survey required by the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for all hospitals in the United States, HCAHPS allows patients to rate their experience regarding their inpatient stay at an organization. HMC’s ratings have improved by over 20% in the last nine months for those willing to recommend the hospital.

There are four in-house hospital teams dedicated to working towards improving our HCAHPS
scores: Environmental Services, Dietary, Family Birth and Acute Care Services (ICU and
Medical Surgical Unit). Priscilla Adams, HMC’s quality manager stated that “all of our teams
are working together towards continuous improvement of our HCAHPS scores. This is really
important because it leads to success in value based purchasing and it helps the hospital deliver the highest quality of care to our patients.”

In addition to improved HCAHPS quality ratings, HMC was also recognized for outstanding
quality measures by Det Norske Veritas (DNV), an international accredited registrar for hospitals and healthcare systems. DNV conducted two separate audits on HMC’s general services as well as its certified primary stroke program.

“HMC has made vast improvements in our quality measures over the past year”, said Leigh
Hunnicutt, director of regulatory services and compliance at HMC. “During our general DNV
survey completed in March, the surveyor communicated that he was impressed with HMC’s
quality initiatives and that our quality practices are far above those he sees in other facilities”.
The stroke program also received rave reviews from DNV. Surveyors suggested that HMC
submit an abstract for national recognition for door to needle time with the area EMS
department. HMC is on track to receive additional awards in the upcoming months.