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The Official Baldrige Blog

Celebrating the 2013 Baldrige Award Recipients

Posted by Christine Schaefer Pewaukee School District
Ceremony for 2013 Baldrige Award Recipients (pictured from left to right): U.S. Department of Commerce Under Secretary for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher, Baldrige Foundation Chair George Benson, Pewaukee School District Board of Education Clerk Larry Dux, Pewaukee School District Superintendent JoAnn Sternke, and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. Photo by Eddie Arrossi.

“It may seem like Baldrige is all results and processes,” said JoAnn Sternke, superintendent of the Wisconsin district honored at the official ceremony for 2013 Baldrige Award winners Sunday evening in Baltimore, Maryland. “But at the heart there’s a culture around continuous improvement [and] also around a passion for core values. And at the heart of the Pewaukee School District’s journey are incredibly passionate people …  and they come to work each and every day wanting to do a great job serving kids and families.” Sternke accepted the Baldrige Award on behalf of her suburban school district’s board of education, 312 employees, and 2,800 students. In congratulating the other 2013 Baldrige Award winner, Sutter Davis Hospital, Sternke compared the life-saving missions of the two organizations and sectors, noting, “You literally save lives; we do it by giving students life chances, and we take that very, very seriously. We’ve learned so much from our friends in health care because we share those ‘heart tugging’ missions.” Sternke recalled that her school district began its “journey” of continuous improvement many years ago and that it has had a strategic planning process in place for over 20 years. “Our visionary board of education created a strand in 1998 called Quality Systematic Improvement,” she noted. She credited Larry Dux, a member of the board of education and its current clerk, for seeing in 2006 how the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence framework “fits us.” “Since then we have dedicated ourselves to being systematic in the use of the Baldrige continuous improvement process,” continued Sternke, “and … we’ve seen student achievement go up in ways that we never thought imaginable. We’ve become more efficient and more effective. And these successes aren’t just figures and statistics; they do change lives. And in the process, we’ve become an innovative force in education.” “We’re transforming how we deliver learning for our students, and that’s creating life chances, and that’s opening the door to each child’s future,” she added. In concluding her remarks, Sternke said, “For those pondering whether or not to pursue this Baldrige process, I say boldly, ‘Why wouldn’t you?’” Sutter Davis Hospital
Ceremony for 2013 Baldrige Award Recipients (pictured from left to right): U.S. Department of Commerce Under Secretary for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher, Baldrige Foundation Chair George Benson, Sutter Health Sacramento Sierra Region President James Conforti, Sutter Davis Hospital CEO Janet Wagner, and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. Photo by Eddie Arrossi.

“Sutter Davis Hospital is a small community hospital,” said CEO Janet Wagner, speaking at the Baldrige Award ceremony Sunday evening. “In fact, we are one of the smallest full-service hospitals in the Sutter Health system, with a lot of good results. And I’m proud to be a voice tonight for small hospitals.” Wagner said that her organization’s adoption of the Baldrige framework for performance excellence “grew from a desire to deliver the safest, quality care to the communities we serve.” In looking to move from being a good organization to become a great one, Wagner recalled, “We needed a framework to challenge our assumptions, guide our process improvements, and focus our team on sustaining results. Thus began our Baldrige journey.” The effort “was not always easy,” acknowledged Wagner. “Some thought the journey was going to be too much work; some thought we didn’t have all the resources we needed—because, after all, we are a hospital, we are open 24 hours a day, we never close, so we stay busy.” But she noted that over the last six to eight years, Sutter Davis Hospital stayed the course with its focus on continuous improvement, guided by the Baldrige Criteria, engaging the staff, physicians, and volunteers, as well as collaborating with community partners, particularly the hospital’s federally qualified health clinics. Among remarkable results achieved and sustained by the hospital in recent years, Wagner highlighted its top-decile patient satisfaction and clinical quality outcomes. She noted that Sutter Davis Hospital has been named among “Top 100 Hospitals” in the nation by Truven Health Analytics. She also pointed to the hospital’s reduction in wait times and 30-day readmission rates for the emergency room. Wagner added, “The Sutter Davis team has created a culture of accountability when it comes to our patients and families and has truly demonstrated transforming care—the kind of care that we want to see delivered in our country.”    

About the author

Christine Schaefer

Christine Schaefer is a longtime staff member of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program (BPEP). Her work has focused on producing BPEP publications and communications. She also has been highly involved in the Baldrige Award process, Baldrige examiner training, and other offerings of the program.

She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Virginia, where she was an Echols Scholar and a double major, receiving highest distinction for her thesis in the interdisciplinary Political & Social Thought Program. She also has a master's degree from Georgetown University, where her studies and thesis focused on social and public policy issues. 

When not working, she sits in traffic in one of the most congested regions of the country, receives consolation from her rescued beagles, writes poetry, practices hot yoga, and tries to cultivate a foundation for three kids to direct their own lifelong learning (and to PLEASE STOP YELLING at each other—after all, we'll never end wars if we can't even make peace at home!).

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