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The Official Baldrige Blog

Honoring National Role Models at the 2015 Baldrige Award Ceremony

By Christine Schaefer Inside a hotel ballroom near the Baltimore, Maryland harbor, four organizations were honored Sunday evening at the official ceremony for recipients of the 2015 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (see more photos).  
The ceremony opened with a traditional presentation of colors by the United States Joint Service Color Guard. “As everyone here knows, earning the Baldrige Award is hard. It requires an organizational commitment to excellence, driven by senior leadership with vision, accomplished by engaged employees, and enabled by a customer-focused culture,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, addressing the ceremony audience via videotaped remarks. “But today’s winners were willing to make that commitment. As a result, they are creating some of America’s best products and services that bring value to their customers every day.” Secretary Pritzker thanked the four organizations for their dedication and leadership and congratulated them for their success. Deputy Commerce Secretary Bruce Andrews presented the awards, and Dr. Willie E. May, National Institute of Standards and Technology Director introduced senior leaders of each of the 2015 Baldrige Award recipients: MidwayUSA President Matt Fleming and Vice President, Quality Management Systems Deanna Herwald; Charter School of San Diego Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer Mary Searcy Bixby and Executive Director Tim Tuter; Charleston Area Medical Center Health System President and Chief Executive Officer David L. Ramsey and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Glenn Crotty, Jr.; and Mid-America Transplant President Emeritus Dean F. Kappel and President and Chief Executive Officer Diane Brockmeier. Following are highlights of the remarks conveyed by senior leaders of the 2015 Baldrige Award recipients at the ceremony. MidwayUSA of Columbia, Missouri (small business; also a 2009 Baldrige Award recipient) “MidwayUSA accepts this prestigious award with tremendous pride and great humility,” said MidwayUSA President Matt Fleming. “We’ve always had a passion for customer satisfaction, continuous improvement, our industry, and our way of life. But Baldrige helps us serve customers better than we ever imagined. We are truly thankful for this gift of Baldrige to America.” “Baldrige helped MidwayUSA achieve record results leading up to our first award in 2009,” Fleming continued. “Since 2009, customers, sales and profits have all more than doubled with only 15 percent more employees; productivity and efficiency have increased; we’ve donated over $120 million to our key communities; employee, supplier, and partner satisfaction have all improved; and customer satisfaction is at record levels. Baldrige was an absolute game changer for MidwayUSA.” Fleming thanked his company’s 450 “excellent employees for embracing Baldrige, for aligning with our culture, for sharing our values, and for performing at extremely high levels and achieving great results. You all are awesome.” Referring to the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence, Fleming said, “Three hundred and forty of the greatest business questions ever written in the greatest business book ever written. Answer them well, and you’ll have a great organization. At MidwayUSA, our vision is to be the best-run, most-respected business in America for the benefit of our customers. And Baldrige helps us achieve our vision.” Charter School of San Diego of California (education) “We’re interested in quality instruction without a doubt,” said Charter School of San Diego Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer Mary Searcy Bixby. “However, our people would say our business is about transforming lives.” “Every single student has a story,” she continued, “and we strongly believed when we started our school 22 years ago that every student had a right to an exceptional education—not a good education, but an exceptional education.” At one point during Bixby’s remarks, her school leadership team members attending the ceremony held up photos of their school’s students to represent them and stress their importance. “What a school really is if you’re in the business of transforming lives is about teachers and support staff and the people that are there making contact with students every day,” concluded Bixby. “We are teachers, and our business is transforming lives. We are Baldrige.” Charleston Area Medical Center Health System of West Virginia (health care) “It is my deepest privilege to represent the 7,000 employees, 700 physicians and 350 volunteers who make up our organization,” said Charleston Area Medical Center Health System President and Chief Executive Officer David Ramsey. “They are indeed the heart and soul of Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC) Health System.” “About ten years ago, CAMC was recognized by Harvard researchers as one of the top clinical quality institutions in the nation. And we were very excited to see that our many years of clinical performance improvements were being recognized. We also knew that there were other opportunities for improvement. We decided that the Baldrige framework would provide the system approach we needed,” continued Ramsey. “We wanted to excel at each of our [vision] Pillars—Best Place to Receive Patient-Centered Care, Best Place to Work, Best Place to Practice Medicine, Best Place to Learn, and Best Place to Refer Patients. We began our Baldrige journey in hopes that we could learn from the process and from the feedback. And learn we have! The Baldrige framework gave us a road map to excel in all of these areas,” he said. “Being the most efficient, effective, and high-performing health system for us is much more than a point of pride. It is imperative for the people we serve,” stressed Ramsey. “As the largest hospital and one of the largest employers in West Virginia, we feel an obligation to provide the very best care to those we serve.” “At CAMC, we have the privilege of caring for patients who depend on us for lifesaving services that no other hospital in our region provides. Many times our patients are the most injured, or the most ill and frail, and at our children’s hospital, the tiniest. Frequently, they come to us at the worst possible time of their lives, and we have the responsibility as well as the privilege to care for them the way we would care for a family member,” said Ramsey. Mid-America Transplant of St. Louis, Missouri (nonprofit) “Mid-America Transplant is one of 58 organizations designated by the Medicare program to facilitate the organ and tissue donation and transplantation process,” explained the nonprofit’s president emeritus Dean F. Kappel, who served as the chief executive from 1986 until he retired in January 2016. “We collaborate with 122 hospitals in parts of three states to meet the needs of patients awaiting life-saving organ and tissue transplants. Our staff works every day at the intersection of death and new life. They are there to support a grieving family, facilitate the medical management of potential donors, and, ultimately, partner with recovery surgeons for the removal and subsequent transplantation of organs and tissues.” “If there ever was a work that required the systematic approach the Baldrige criteria provides, this is it,” Kappel remarked. “Although there are over 30,000 deaths in our service area, only 6 percent become tissue donors and less than 1 percent can be organ donors. This makes every donation opportunity extremely precious.” Kappel described his organization’s 12-year-long Baldrige journey of improvement and highlighted innovations, cost savings, and lives saved as a result. “Let me give you one example of how the [Baldrige Criteria] led us to a significant breakthrough. Early on, we developed approaches to get feedback from our partners. A trauma surgeon asked if we could speed up the [donation] process; it was taking 20 to 30 hours. We explored a number of changes but eventually settled on building our own organ recovery suite. … and began to move organ donors by ambulance after death was declared. We were the first organ procurement organization in the world to implement this change.” “There are no shortcuts to success with the Baldrige framework. But the process is definitely worth it,” concluded Kappel. “We are excited to report that Baldrige has helped us save more lives each year.” Special guests at the ceremony included U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, representing the home state of 2015 Baldrige Award recipient Charleston Area Medical Center Health System (West Virginia); and Malcolm Hollensteiner, nephew of former (deceased) U.S. Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige, for whom the Baldrige Award is named.

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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