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The Official Baldrige Blog

Leadership Practices of 2016 Baldrige Award Recipients: Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital

head shot of Greg Haralson

Greg Haralson; 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 first 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).

Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital 

Speaking to a packed hotel ballroom at one of the first events of the 29th Annual Quest for Excellence Conference Monday morning, Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital CEO Greg Haralson first explained his hospital’s connection to the greater Memorial Hermann health system, which has a service area of 8,700 square miles.

Given “tremendous growth” in the greater Houston area, as well as in Texas as a whole, he said, the organization today serves about 1,600 inpatients annually, as well as more than 6,000 emergency room patients. And the Sugar Land hospital now has a workforce of more than 700 full-time employees, he added.

The hospital’s leaders and workforce embraced the question “Why Not Us?” to convey their aim for the organization “to be a role model, to achieve something greater, to accomplish something extraordinary, to be the preeminent community hospital in the nation,” said Haralson.

To achieve that vision, Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital’s Model of Preeminence (depicted as a pyramid in Haralson’s presentation) is based on differentiating its performance from that of other care providers (the middle of the pyramid) and delivering “reliable excellence” (the base of the pyramid). “Health care is a tough industry,” Haralson said. “When you’re a patient, you expect zero mistakes.”

Yet employees are human and not perfect, he continued, so the hospital created a framework of systematic processes that employees must follow 100 percent of the time to prevent mistakes that could cause patient harm.

The hospital considers patient safety to be one of its core competencies, along with “family caring for family.” Correspondingly, the values-driven leadership system includes values of safety, accountability, innovation, collaboration, empowerment, compassion (“an expectation because we believe that health care is a calling,” said Haralson), results-oriented (“We have to produce at a high level in each one of our roles,” he said), and One Memorial Hermann (the system).  

Haralson emphasized his organization’s values of compassion and safety. “Compassion is expected of everyone we hire,” he stated. “[It’s] a value we do not take lightly; [it’s] how we create a community for positive experience.”

Safety is incorporated into the organization’s culture, he said, through practices such as daily safety huddles, data transparency, a safety coach program, and use of high-reliability principles. Haralson also spotlighted the structure of the hospital leadership’s communications system, which includes “Strategy Champions” to help convey messages between the executive team and the leadership team.

Among exemplary results he highlighted are the hospital’s 15-year record of zero ventilator-associated pneumonia cases and similarly long record in preventing instances of pressure ulcers among its patients.

“The hard work is worth [the effort],” Haralson concluded. “Getting to preeminence at the top of that pyramid is where we want to be, and we know that the Baldrige framework will help us get there.”

For more details, see the Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital 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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