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The Official Baldrige Blog

Schneck Medical Center: How a Small-Town Employer Grows a World-Class Workforce

Photo of group of smiling Schneck employees at work

Photo used with permission.

Credit: Schneck Medical Center

Schneck Medical Center is growing a high-performing workforce that, in turn, is yielding nationally recognized results on patient-focused health care measures. 

"We understand that it is our investment in our people that has significantly contributed to our 100 years of success," said Kathy Covert, the organization's vice president of human resources, in her presentation at the Baldrige Program's 24th Annual Quest for Excellence conference.

Schneck Medical Center, a 2011 Baldrige Award winner, develops employee relationships through a seven-step process, anchored in its small-town culture, that ends with measuring and improving approaches. Among practices Covert described are the medical center's Hiring for Excellence Program, focus on engaging physicians, and Grow Our Own system of identifying future workforce members and cultivating its relationships with them.

The hiring program reinforces the organization's cultural values and standards of behavior by going beyond ensuring technical expertise. The organization conducts behavior-based peer interviews and follows up with "validated behavior assessments." It also uses "stay interviews" in retaining employees—a practice that Covert said her organization learned at a previous Quest conference from 2008 Baldrige Award winner Poudre Valley Health System.

To engage physicians, Schneck Medical Center builds their trust and respect through such practices as involving them as project champions and on physicians' excellence and advisory committees. The organization also has a chief medical officer position and an in-house physician recruiter.

The Grow Our Own initiative is exemplified by the story of Dr. Eric Fish, who began his employee-employer relationship with his hometown hospital as a 18- and 19-year-old student groundskeeper. More recently, as its medical director of obstetrics and gynecology, he helped develop the medical center's robotic surgery program. Between the time when Fish was operating a lawn mower on grounds to his work today in operating a $2.5 million surgical device, the organization has been steadily deepening its relationship with him.

Returns on the medical center's investment in its employees include physician engagement results at the top-decile level nationally and an improvement from 85% to 92% in favorable responses to the employee survey question "I would recommend employment here" from 2005 to 2010. That gain occurred despite some cuts in employee benefits in 2009, which Covert said were tied to the national economic downturn. Schneck Medical Center also has seen turnover decrease by 25 percent between 2007 and 2011. Such results prove, as Covert pointed out at the start of her presentation, that "we grow more than corn in Indiana."

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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Not only good workforce but also excellent management of Schneck Medical Center gives them a great success.
I agree. To be a Baldridge winner, a company must be 'well-rounded.'
Absolutely! The systems perspective that Baldrige Award recipients demonstrate ensures that they are "well-rounded" organizations. While my post on Schneck Medical Center was based on a Quest presentation on workforce-focused practices, strong leadership is key to the results this organization has achieved.
Every experience we have had with Schneck has been awesome...until tonight. Normally, there is someone who stops by the room & asks if we need anything or updates us on tests. We have been in the ER for almost 4 hrs & the cat scan results were back over an hour ago. (i went up & asked if it was still going to be awhile & she said the results were coming in right then.) Right now, I would have to rate this hospital as low as Scott Memorial. That's not good.
I am always interested in reading posts regarding Baldrige in education, as I'm sure those who work in other sectors relate to their own sector-specific posts. However, as an overall comment, I'd suggest two areas that I would find particularly helpful: insights on potential changes to the criteria and suggestions for finding and effectively using benchmarking data.
Thank you for informing us of this issue. Patient safety and satisfaction are our top priorities at Schneck. We would like to learn more information about your concern, so please contact us by calling 812-524-4242. We want to help improve your experience in the Emergency Department.

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