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Finding out that the Mission Regional Medical Center made a list of the top 100 hospitals in the nation was bittersweet for the entire staff, who have been working around the clock throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
On July 2, 2020 Fortune published their list of IBM Watson Health 100 Top Hospitals. Following nearly four years of hard work and dedication, MRMC made the list in the category of Large Community Hospitals.
IBM Watson Health identified the top hospitals from “a rigorous evaluation of 3,134 short-term, acute care, non-federal hospitals in the U.S.” according to a press release from the MRMC. The annual list recognizes excellence in clinical outcomes, operational efficiency, patient experience and financial health.
IBM Watson Health established the list to help identify best practices that may help other healthcare organizations achieve consistent, balanced, and sustainable high performance. Performance indicators include “survival rates, patient complications, healthcare associated infections, 30-day mortality and 30-day hospital-wide readmission rates, length of stay, throughput in emergency rooms, inpatient expenses, profitability and ratings from patients.”
The list was expected to be announced in April, but published results were pushed back due to the pandemic. Hospital administration learned MRMC earned the recognition in July.
“We got the call followed by an official email, then it was postponed,” MRMC Chief Executive Officer Kane Dawson said. “I think the organization was hoping things would cool down by June or July to make the official announcement, and it’s ironic that now we’re in July and in the Valley scene, we’re seeing a very significant spike in COVID-19, to the point where we’re surpassed capacity at our hospital as well as all the hospitals throughout the Valley.”
Dawson said MRMC felt it was still a recognition they wanted to honor, and it may be more timely given the circumstances.
“It’s something that is a direct reflection of our staff and the work that they do to create a place of excellent care delivery,” Dawson said. “It represents the culture of all we’re seeking to be: excellent providers of the safest patient care possible.”
MRMC was also named an Everest Award winner, which recognizes hospitals who have made leaps and bounds forward. Dawson recalled how he and Chief Nursing Officer Kennetha Foster felt when they received word they had surpassed the key milestone they had both been striving toward since 2017.
“It’s great to be recognized on a national basis,” Dawson said. “[Kennetha and I] got the call, and I think it almost brought us both to tears of joy, because we were so excited.”
MRMC is currently filled with COVID-19 patients – on the date of Dawson’s interview with the Progress Times, the hospital had already received 150 new patients positive for the virus.
“The federal government came in, and we’ve had some disaster relief people come in, and we’ve toured them around and they’re like ‘wow,’” Dawson said. “They’re like, ‘okay, where do you need us right now, we’ll help.’”
When the pandemic first hit the United States, MRMC reacted swiftly and designated areas specifically for treating COVID-19 patients separately.
“It’s been a constant adjustment,” Dawson said. “It has really exploded and evolved to where our whole hospital is now focused on caring for COVID patients.”
Dawson said the pandemic is unprecedented for every hospital in the RGV. In the last month, due to the spike of coronavirus patients in the Rio Grande Valley, MRMC has had to make even more severe adjustments – which Dawson stressed they were prepared to do and continue.
“We have physically reconstructed so many of our units to be able to keep our employees safe, keep our patients safe,” Dawson said. “We’ve added quarantined areas for infectious disease treatment, and added equipment ventilation like negative-pressure rooms, which increased safety.”
The news of the IBM Watson Health recognition reflects the work ethic of the entire team at MRMC.
“It really highlights our focus, which is on clinical outcome, operational efficiency and patient experience,” Dawson said. “We look at readmission rates, length of stay, and it also is a reflection of how we manage our resources.”
Mission Regional Medical Center has been attending to the health care needs of the community for over 60 years. Founded by the city of Mission, Mission Municipal Hospital (as it was named then) opened its doors to patients in 1954.
Since then, the hospital has grown both in size and scope of service. Originally comprised of 35-beds and a staff of about 50, today Mission Regional Medical Center has a staff of about 1000 and 297-beds.
To reflect its increasing size and service, Mission Hospital was renamed Mission Regional Medical Center in 2004. MRMC, a non-profit community hospital, has been providing personalized health care not only to the residents of Mission, but also to the communities in neighboring counties and our neighbors to the south-Mexico according to the press release. That growth has included state of the art medical equipment, an expanded range of services, and a diverse medical staff.
“Mission Hospital has always been a unique place because of its warm and caring culture,” Dawson said. “It really always had good-quality scores. I think what the national recognition does is further demonstrate our commitment to the community – not only serving them when they’re sick and in the hospital, but all the community outreach we do with our health fairs and screenings.”
One of the major adjustments MRMC has had to make in the wake of the pandemic is family visitation – which everyone misses.
“It’s been really difficult, because families play such a key role in helping care for loved ones when they’re in the hospital,” Dawson said. “And that’s been very difficult for our staff because they see it is difficult on the patients and their family members when they can’t be next to their loved ones, whether they are sick or in regular hospitalization.”
While they celebrate the recognition, MRMC wants everyone in the community to be safe and follow CDC guidelines when it comes to social distancing and facial coverings.
“Hospitals, health systems and the dedicated clinicians and staff who work at these organizations have emerged as true heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic and we are grateful to be able to recognize these extraordinary leaders at this time,” Kyu Rhee, M.D., M.P.P., Vice President and Chief Health Officer for IBM Watson Health, said. “From small community hospitals to major teaching hospitals, organizations on this list demonstrate a relentless commitment to high value, patient-centered care and innovation. It is clear that the COVID-19 crisis will be a catalyst for reinvention, and we believe these top performing hospitals are positioned to emerge stronger and smarter out of this crisis.”