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The Official Baldrige Blog

A Baldrige Award-Winning Nonprofit Highlights Organizational Resilience

CORE staff celebrates National Blue & Green Day at their headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA by holding up signs spelling Donate Life.

CORE staff celebrates National Blue & Green Day at their headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA.

Credit: Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE)
Michael Gerusky, Chief Innovation and Performance Officer, Center for Organ Recovery and Education (CORE)
Michael Gerusky, Chief Innovation and Performance Officer, CORE, 2019 Baldrige Award Recipient
Credit: CORE

Located in Pittsburgh, PA, the Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE), a 2019 Baldrige Award recipient, is a nonprofit organ procurement organization (OPO) with a federally designated service area encompassing a population of 5.5 million in western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and one county in New York. One of 56 independent, nonprofit OPOs designated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), CORE’s mission is to save and heal lives through donation.

CORE has maintained performance among the top 10% of the nation’s OPOs from 2014 through present. For example, for all four of CORE’s key customer groups—donor families, transplant centers, corneal transplant surgeons, and tissue processors—results show satisfaction levels above 90%. The satisfaction rate for donor families has been between 95 and 100%. In addition, in a best-practice OPO partnership called LINC, which includes two previous Baldrige Award-winning organizations, CORE has developed algorithms to help normalize results data so that OPOs can better measure and improve their performance through comparison and benchmarking. CORE’s information technology team has also worked closely with the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations to build a tool to examine infrastructure, data, and integration in order to advance OPOs’ best practices. As the result of managing the costs, efficiency, and effectiveness of its operations, which led to two on-site operating rooms and research laboratories, CORE achieved cost-savings of over $300,000 in 2014, over $600,000 in 2018, and over $2.6 million at the time it received the Baldrige Award.

I recently asked CORE Chief Innovation and Performance Officer Michael Gerusky 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 CORE and other organizations in your sector.

In discussing organizational resilience, I will delve into how CORE adapted our already aggressive goals to ensure resilience in the organ, tissue, and cornea procurement and transplantation industry, and to solidify our legacy as a top performer in the OPO sector. For example, some of our adapted goals include increasing donor authorization and organ utilization rates, and reducing recovery time. 

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

CORE has evolved its strategic planning process to focus on innovation for achieving breakthrough results. This includes changing the way we set goals, moving from a process capability approach to align with industry-elite tier expectations. Some of the expectations and innovations we aim for include achieving authorization on every potential donor, implementing AI-driven predictive analytics to optimize organ allocation, and developing novel outreach strategies to increase public awareness about organ donation.

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? 

Senior leaders should continually challenge their organizations to strive towards their vision using the Baldrige principles as guiding principles. The principles include visionary leadership, patient-centered excellence, organizational and personal learning, valuing workforce members and partners, agility, focus on success, managing for innovation, and societal contributions. It’s also imperative to recognize that the value of these principles is never-ending.

Would you please share a challenge or update since CORE earned the Baldrige Award? 

Since earning the Baldrige Award, CORE has faced a significant challenge due to changes in the industry landscape regarding how OPO performance is evaluated. Specifically, the implementation of new CMS metrics has shifted the focus towards competition rather than collaboration among OPOs. In response, CORE has adjusted by leveraging predictive tools for performance estimation, enhancing innovation in our strategic planning, and increasing collaboration with industry partners to maintain our position as a top-tier performer.

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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