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The Official Baldrige Blog

Leadership Practices of 2016 Baldrige Award Recipients: Kindred–Mountain Valley

head shot of Maryruth Butler

Maryruth Butler; photo used with permission.

During the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program’s 29th Annual Quest for Excellence® Conference this week, national role models in every sector—including Baldrige Award recipients of 2016 and previous years—have been showcasing their best practices.

Following is the second of four blogs on the leadership presentations of the 2016 Baldrige Award recipients (in order of publication): Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital (health care), Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation Center–Mountain Valley (health care), Don Chalmers Ford (small business), and Momentum Group (small business).

Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation–Mountain Valley

Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation–Mountain Valley is the first organization in its industry to earn a Baldrige Award. 

At the start of her leadership presentation before a large ballroom audience, the organization’s executive director, Maryruth Butler, provided a snapshot of the distinctive Baldrige Award recipient with these facts:

  • It’s a 68-bed skilled nursing facility, with 90 employees and 33 key volunteers.
  • It’s located in Kellogg, Idaho, in the northern Silver Valley region of the state.
  • 68 percent of its customers are residents receiving long-term care, and 32 percent are short-term patients receiving rehabilitation health care services.
  • Two acute-care hospitals are its primary sources of referrals.
  • It has achieved and sustained results in the top 10 percent of the nation.

In presenting key elements of her organization’s leadership system (depicted in graphic below) and strategic framework, Butler recited the vision, “Focus on our people, on quality and customer service, and our business results will follow.” She also shared its three core competencies of providing for a highly engaged workforce, resident-/patient-centered care, and excellent customer service.  

Butler shared that her organization’s quest for continuous improvement and innovation has included its past involvement in the Baldrige-based national quality award program of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL). (Note: Kindred–Mountain Valley earned that program’s top-tier Gold–Excellence in Quality Award in 2011.)

In reviewing events that advanced her organization’s journey to excellence, Butler also identified the (1) involvement of the frontline staff in improvements based on their contributions during rounding by the senior leadership and (2) the evolution of its Plan-Do-Study-Act improvement method to the “more strategic” Quality Assurance Performance Improvement (QAPI) Process its uses today. Use of QAPI, she explained, is now required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Through its QAPI approach, Kindred–Mountain Valley created a systematic culture of safety in which “no one hesitates to voice a patient concern,” “the workforce feels safe learning from errors,” “workforce concerns are taken seriously,” and “action is taken ... and changes are visible,” Butler shared. Among best practices for which Kindred–Mountain Valley is a national role model is its QAPI system and its patient/resident fall reduction program, according to Butler.

Butler said the culture of excellence created and sustained within Kindred–Mountain Valley encompasses solving problems creatively, fostering excitement around change, using proactive approaches rather than reactive measures, having a highly engaged workforce, and continuously improving performance. Among key results she presented are Kindred–Mountain Valley’s consistent 5-star ratings from CMS for overall quality—a rare achievement since the rating system was implemented by the national regulatory agency in 2009. (Less than 1 percent of skilled nursing facilities in the nation, she noted, have earned that distinction.)

For those in the audience not familiar with her industry, Butler explained that it is very transparent through the public availability of CMS quality ratings for every skilled nursing rehabilitation center in the nation.

Butler also highlighted her organization’s employee engagement survey results on the question of whether senior management is trustworthy: favorable responses dramatically increased over the past three years, she said, while the employee response rate to the annual survey also rose to 70 percent. What are the keys to the organization’s success? Butler named these six:

  • Deep-seated culture of innovative thinking
  • Performance Management System
  • Baldrige Excellence Framework
  • Service Excellence Program
  • Strategic Planning Process
  • Action Map

For more details, see the Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation Center–Mountain Valley profile on the Baldrige website.

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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Very informative

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