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The Official Baldrige Blog

A Project to Save and Enhance Lives Through Excellence

A Project to Save and Enhance Lives with Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE) showing Organ Donation with paperwork to apply.
Credit: garagestock/Shutterstock

Susan A. Stuart, President & CEO, Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE)
Susan A. Stuart
President & CEO
Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE)
Credit: CORE
Almost 120,000 individuals are listed on a registry awaiting life-saving organ and tissue transplants, and every 10 minutes, someone is added to that waiting list. With the need for organ donation so great, many organ procurement organizations (OPOs) are looking for innovative practices to increase the number of transplants. Baldrige resources are one place they are looking.

Susan A. Stuart is the president and CEO of the Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE), one of 58 federally designated, nonprofit OPOs in the United States; CORE serves areas of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Stuart recently completed a year-long executive development experience with the Baldrige Executive Fellows. As part of the fellowship, and with the support of the other executive fellows and Baldrige staff, she completed a capstone project of strategic significance and benefit for her own organization and for the many Americans waiting for life-saving transplants.

I recently had the pleasure to interview her.

What inspired your capstone project for the Baldrige Executive Fellows?

The Center for Organ Recovery & Education bridges the link between donor families and organ transplant candidates. Currently, there are over 120,000 individuals awaiting a second chance at life, and unfortunately, every day 21 people die because an organ was not available. Organ donation rates nationally have remained relatively flat, but the demand has continued to increase. This problem has lead a number of OPOs to begin a performance excellence journey with Baldrige resources, hoping to identify innovative practices that will lead to an increase in the number of transplants.

CORE is one such OPO on this journey. In the past few years, we have had two state visits from the Mid-Atlantic Alliance for Performance Excellence, a Baldrige-based Alliance for Performance Excellence program serving the states of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey. After the site visits, a common gap identified as an opportunity for improvement throughout the feedback reports was the lack of a systematic evaluation of our key processes.

Utilizing a team at CORE, we hope to implement a rigorous program that will lead to a more systematic approach in this area. If successful, we will then be better positioned to identify and make decisions about intelligent risks and innovation.

What was the desired goal of your capstone project?

The desire is that at the completion of the capstone project, CORE would have successfully

  • Developed a process to identify key processes
  • Developed a systematic method to evaluate key processes
  • Ensured that the new knowledge is able to be transferred to the entire organization
  • Created a process for innovative and intelligent risk taking for our key processes during strategic planning sessions

What results have you seen?

We now have a process to identify the key processes and to focus on those key processes. Focusing on the key processes has resulted in the increase in the number of organs, tissues, and corneas for transplantation. This results in more lives saved and enhanced.

What are the future milestones of your project (i.e., what do you hope will happen next)?

It is our goal to continue to evaluate key processes to ensure that we stay focused, which will result in more transplants and reduce the deaths on the waiting list. We also believe that this project has been critical in intelligent risk taking for the organization while remaining innovative. As stewards of these precious gifts, we must always maintain public trust to achieve our mission—but also be innovative to increase the number of transplants.

How have you/your organization continued using Baldrige resources, including the Baldrige Excellence Framework after the fellowship?

The Baldrige framework is the roadmap for how we do business every day. The framework is also the CORE culture for building excellence. Knowledge of the framework has been transferred to every level within the organization. It is no longer Baldrige but CORE’s drive to save and enhance lives through excellence.

Every business day, we have a morning huddle, and the agenda is built around the categories of the Baldrige Criteria, within the framework: workforce, customers, strategy, and operations. All key clinical team members attend the huddle and contribute to activities of the organization. This huddle has ensured that we identify early processes working, as well as processes needing to be improved. Additionally, every meeting begins with a review of the CORE mission, vision, and values.  

What was the value for you in completing the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program?

The value was realized both personally and professionally. To be surrounded by bright and gifted leaders from diverse areas was a true honor.

Professionally, the fellowship has given me more tools to lead my organization and to transfer this knowledge as we strive for excellence. This program also provided more buy-in from the leaders at CORE who want to continue on this journey, knowing that doing so will provide us the opportunities to save and enhance more lives. Finally, I am able to see that we are using the results to sustain and improve processes.

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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...

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Indeed, a positive application of Baldrige in healthcare. I'm curious how "Focusing on the key processes has resulted in the increase in the number of organs, tissues, and corneas for transplantation" led to an increase in the supply or number of organs making it to the recipients?

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