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The Official Baldrige Blog

A Baldrige Award-Winning Health Care CEO Highlights Organizational Resilience

Mary Greeley Medical Center employees bringing patient into emergency care.
Credit: Mary Greeley Medical Center
Brian Dieter, President and CEO of Baldrige Award recipient Mary Greeley Medical Center (MGMC)
Brian Dieter, President and CEO, Mary Greeley Medical Center, 2019 Baldrige Award Recipient
Credit: MGMC

Opened in 1916 and now the largest independent medical center in its primary and secondary markets, Mary Greeley Medical Center (MGMC), a 2019 Baldrige Award recipient, is a public, nonprofit, 220-bed hospital offering inpatient, outpatient, emergency department, home health care, and hospice services. The hospital, which was gifted to the city of Ames by a Union Army officer in the Civil War in memory of his beloved wife, provides health care to the residents of a 14-county area in central Iowa. Inpatient and outpatient services support a continuum of care for patients, including surgery, cancer care, cardiac care, diabetes and nutrition care, orthopedics, obstetrics and gynecology, gastroenterology, mental health services, palliative care, home health care, hospice care, rehabilitation, and more.

Among its nationally distinguished performance achievements, MGMC’s health care results are in the top decile of nationwide results reported to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, including for measures of 30-day readmissions, 30-day mortality for heart attack patients, incidence of preventable blood clots, compliance with sepsis practices, influenza vaccinations, stroke bundle compliance, and outpatient imaging measures. In addition, inpatient satisfaction has been at or above top-decile performance levels since 2016, and more than 75% of inpatients and outpatients would recommend MGMC to others, representing top-decile or near-top-decile levels. In market share, MGMC has been the dominant leader in its primary market overall and for inpatient (43%) and outpatient (48%) care since 2015, in spite of being one-quarter to one-third the size of two of its closest competitors.

I recently asked Mary Greeley Medical Center President and CEO Brian Dieter a few questions in anticipation of his upcoming presentation on April 8 at the Baldrige Program’s 35th Quest for Excellence® Conference. Following are his responses.

Please briefly highlight what you’ll cover as you discuss organizational resilience for Mary Greeley Medical Center and other organizations in your sector.

I believe the main point that I’ll be trying to stress is that the focus on performance (specifically utilization of the Baldrige framework) is a powerful accelerant in the buildup of organizational defenses against challenges and difficulties, as well as the ability to withstand those challenges and recover quickly. We have long believed that improvement must be intentional, and engaging our staff closest to the work is our secret strength. We stress to our team that everyone who works at Mary Greeley has two roles: to do your work and to improve your work.

In light of the Baldrige Award’s added focus on organizational resilience, would you share an example or two of practices that have had a significant impact in supporting your organization’s success for the long term?

First and foremost, our steadfast commitment to the Baldrige framework has provided us with vital business structure as we navigate tremendous challenges in the health care environment. For example, our ability to engage our workforce in meaningful, two-way communication throughout the pandemic via our safety huddles was critical in communication flow--keeping everyone up to date and safe. Additionally, our systematic planning and deployment of strategies through our “Big Dot Goal” approach ensures that our workforce understands organizational priorities and how their work supports key achievement of our strategic objectives. Finally, our focus on our workforce through the development of career pathways allowed us to improve staff engagement and reduce costly travel staff.

How would you recommend that senior leaders get started using the Baldrige Excellence Framework®/Criteria for Performance Excellence® to be prepared to address challenges and to promote resilience? 

The first thing to do is to actually start! Realizing that the challenge of a Baldrige Award application can be daunting, it’s important to know that no one on this journey is alone. Reach out to your state Baldrige-based program [part of the Alliance for Performance Excellence] and send one or two staff members to be examiners. Obtaining program knowledge/exposure to other high-performing organizations is one of the benefits of participating as examiners and coaches. This is a lesson that we learned from our friends at three-time Baldrige Award recipient MidwayUSA; MGMC now has over 100 years of examiner experience! 

Would you please share a challenge or update since Mary Greeley Medical Center earned the Baldrige Award? 

Like most employers in all sectors, we will continue to face workforce challenges. Our use of the Baldrige framework helps us think outside of our sector and learn from other organizations on how to address these challenges. We developed the career pathways approach after a visit to MidwayUSA, and these pathways are now available in most positions within the Medical Center.

Join us at the Quest for Excellence® 2024!

The Quest for Excellence Conference April 7-10, 2024 - Register Today!

The Quest for Excellence® Conference

Sunday, April 7–Wednesday, April 10, 2024  |  #BaldrigeQuest

The conference will feature new and exciting opportunities to learn role-model best practices from nationally recognized thought leaders, Baldrige Award recipients, and representatives from other high-performing organizations. Conference highlights include sessions focusing on organizational resilience and future emerging challenges and take-home solutions to help your organization achieve breakthrough performance in areas such as leadership; strategy; customers; measurement, analysis, and knowledge management; workforce; and operations.

Register Today! 

About the author

Dawn Bailey

Dawn Bailey is a writer/editor for the Baldrige Program and involved in all aspects of communications, from leading the Baldrige Executive Fellows program to managing the direction of case studies, social media efforts, and assessment teams. She has more than 25 years of experience, 18 years at the Baldrige Program. Her background is in English and journalism, with degrees from the University of Connecticut and an advanced degree from George Mason University.

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