Grade ‘A’ Quality Care

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Most people don’t look forward to a trip to the hospital. But when they’re headed to Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen, they can look forward to the fact that they’re going to a facility highly rated for its safety, quality of care, and patient experience.

“If people come to us, it’s not because they’ve won the lottery. People come to us when they’re most vulnerable,” said Archie Drake, COO of Valley Baptist Health System-Harlingen. “We want people to trust that they can come to Valley Baptist and they can be certain that they’re going to get top-notch care from a top-notch group of people who are there to serve them.”

Valley Baptist-Harlingen recently received an “A” score via Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade.

“Texas ranks 16th in the nation when it comes to the number of hospitals that are an ‘A’ or higher,” said Dr. Christopher Romero, physician advisor. “In Texas, less than 40 percent of hospitals have been able to achieve a Leapfrog score of ‘A,’ so we’re really proud to be able to lead the charge in the state for improving patient care overall.”

The Leapfrog Group is a national nonprofit organization focused on publicly reporting hospital performance to advocate for increasing transparency and saving lives. Nearly 2,000 hospitals in the United States voluntarily participate in the evidence-based survey.

“It’s a very objective measurement, and that’s why I like it,” said Manny Vela, Valley Baptist Health System-Harlingen CEO. “It weighs and then judges you against your peers around the country. So a strong Leapfrog ‘A’ score truly indicates that you’re concentrating on the right thing.”

The Leapfrog survey examines more than 20 metrics centered around hospital-acquired infections, surgery issues, error prevention, safety problems, and staffing. The measurements are tallied into a numeric score, which is then translated to a letter grade.

“It gives a nice snapshot picture of the ongoing care that hospitals provide for the community,” said Roy Evans, chief quality officer for Valley Baptist-Harlingen. “Our score this year was the highest we’ve ever achieved.”

The rating represents life and death challenges that hospitals face.

“The reason why we take this so seriously is there’s some alarming statistics when it comes to patient safety nationwide,” Romero said. “Disturbingly, over 400,000 people will die in this country due to errors that happen during hospitalization. We find that to be unacceptable for the patients we care for here at Valley Baptist.”

Valley Baptist self-evaluates the ongoing care it provides to the community, examining its strengths and areas of improvement. The Leapfrog score is just one method to continue to grow as an organization.

“We’re not satisfied with just being an ‘A,’” Romero said. “We want to have all of the measures all across the board be as highly ranked as possible.”

This is the fifth consecutive A score that Valley Baptist has received, Vela adds, but that doesn’t mean that the health system is complacent about where it stands.

“The reality is this: We’re going to get better every day we come to work because we’ve learned something yesterday that’s going to allow us to continually improve the manner in which we provide care at Valley Baptist,” he said.

Initiatives to improve include everything from reducing the number of unnecessary tubes and lines in patients to encouraging hand washing from hospital visitors before they enter a room and after they leave. Self-improvement takes attention to detail and hard work.

“There’s no ego at Valley Baptist, but a lot of pride,” Drake said. “We’re very proud of the fact that we have earned the score of ‘A’ because we didn’t get there by coincidence. It has to be in our culture, in our DNA, to be excellent and that’s what we really strive for.”

It’s a team effort.

“You cannot achieve the high Leapfrog score that we’ve recently achieved without a complete collaboration with every member of our staff,” Vela said. “It’s a highly dedicated, highly skilled, highly trained group of folks across the board that allow us to do the things that we do on a daily basis for our patients.”

In the end, Valley Baptist’s ‘A’ Leapfrog score more than just a good grade.

“It’s affirmation that in fact our folks don’t have to leave the Rio Grande Valley to receive the highest level of care available,” Vela said.

Learn more about Valley Baptist Health System by visiting valleybaptist.net/.

Have you ever needed care at Valley Baptist-Harlingen? What was your experience like? #JoinTheConversation at facebook.com/rgvisionmagazine.