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The Official Baldrige Blog

Spotlight on 2018 Baldrige Award Recipient Leaders: Memorial Hospital and HCC’s Kyle Bennett

Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center doctor speaking to a woman patient about a scan.
Credit: Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center

Photo of Kyle Bennett 31st Quest for Excellence Speaker.
Kyle Bennett
Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center
2018 Baldrige Award Recipient    
Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center (MHHCC), based in Jasper, Indiana, encompasses an acute-care community hospital, 32 outpatient clinics and medical practices, and an ambulance service. The hospital’s workforce of about 1,700 members each year provides care for approximately 6,600 inpatients, 254,000 outpatients, and 29,000 emergency department visitors.

MHHCC has consistently earned 5-star ratings from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for overall quality of inpatient care. Since 2017, the organization’s performance in CMS’s value-based payment system has positioned it in the top 10 percent of U.S. hospitals. Demonstrating this nationally recognized benchmark performance, MHHCC has earned a Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade of “A” since 2016. For example, the organization has sustained a bedside medication verification rate of more than 97 percent, exceeding the Leapfrog benchmarks from 2013 to 2018, the year it earned its Baldrige Award.  

In April, as president and CEO of MHHCC, Bennett will officially accept this Presidential award—the nation’s highest honor for organizational excellence. Consequently, at the Baldrige Program’s 31st Annual Quest for Excellence® Conference, Bennett and other members of his leadership team will present processes and practices that have helped the health care organization become a high-performing role model for U.S. organizations.

In the following interview, Bennett describes the focus of his team’s upcoming Quest presentations, highlights how the Baldrige Excellence Framework has supported MHHCC’s journey to excellence over the past seven years, and tells why other health care organizations can also benefit from using the framework to improve their performance.

Congratulations as your organization will be officially receiving its Baldrige Award at the ceremony this spring. Do you wish to share how you feel about this great achievement or how you or other employees reacted when you heard the news of winning the award?

Receiving the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award is a wonderful honor and humbling experience for our organization. It is a testament to the dedication and work ethic of our workforce as they work together to deliver compassionate excellence to each patient that walks into one of our facilities.

We are committed to continuing our journey forward, because we know we still can improve for our patients and the communities we serve. The Baldrige framework will continue to enable our progress as we address our opportunities for improvement.

Our leadership learned about the award on the same afternoon that we received the call from Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. Our organization’s leaders knew the day we expected to hear the news, and they also were aware that recipients typically receive that call directly from Secretary Ross. We called a stand-up meeting, and I began the announcement to employees by saying that I had just spoken with Secretary Ross. They immediately understood what that implied, and the room erupted in celebration.

Would you please describe the topics of your team’s presentations at the upcoming Quest for Excellence?

Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center is focused on our mission and how it is reflected in our culture. Our presentations will provide insight on how we’ve used the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence [part of the Baldrige Excellence Framework] to challenge and refine our processes in order to create consistent, high-quality results for direct patient care as well as for key strategic business processes. 

We will demonstrate how deployment of the Baldrige Excellence Framework enabled us to reflect our mission through compassionate excellence while strengthening our culture of caring for our workforce members who, in turn, care for our patients.

How has the Baldrige Excellence Framework contributed to your organization’s success?  Would you please share an example of Baldrige-based best practices at your organization?

The Baldrige framework has challenged us to focus on process improvement and has enabled us to hardwire processes in order to create sustainable results. We have been on our journey to excellence for seven years, and we are a much different organization than when we started. At first, the Baldrige framework added to our work. In fact, the Baldrige framework even felt awkward as we challenged our processes. We constantly revisited the [Baldrige] Criteria in order to ensure that we were establishing a solid answer to “how” we accomplish tasks in order to hardwire sound processes that deliver excellent results.

We have established best practices around the deployment of our strategic plan. We use 90-day teams to plan and execute many of our strategic initiatives. This process has resulted in a disciplined approach that keeps our strategic plan on track. Additionally, our 90-day teams have included many individuals throughout our organization that had previously not been involved with our strategic plan. A detailed explanation of our approach to 90-day teams will be part of our category 6 (“Operations”) presentation.

What are a few of the reasons that other organizations in the health care sector can benefit from using the Baldrige framework?

As in any other sector, [in health care] there is downward pressure on revenue, coupled with what seems to be an ever-increasing level of regulation. Further, the delivery of health care is in a state of constant change. We must be prepared to refine our processes on a regular basis in order to sustain our organization by delivering compassionate excellence to our patients and the communities we serve.

The Baldrige framework has been instrumental to the management and improvement of our processes over the last seven years.

Based in Jasper, Indiana, and sponsored by the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary, Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center (MHHCC) carries out its mission and vision (to transform lives through faith-based, compassionate care) through a culture focused on “Radical Loving Care” and “Being for Others,” which is demonstrated in patient care and all interpersonal interactions. The organization’s strategic planning process, which incorporates input from employees, customers, and other key stakeholders, has led to initiatives that enhance community members’ access to primary care and address the shortage of physicians in the rural region. For example, MHHCC opened a clinic staffed by nurse practitioners, as well as launching a graduate medical education program and family medical practice residency in collaboration with Indiana University and MHHCC’s local competitors.


Join us for the Quest for Excellence Conference April 7-10, 2019.

Quest for Excellence® Conference

NATIONAL HARBOR | April 7–10, 2019
Join us for the 31st Annual Quest for Excellence Conference showcasing the best practices of the 2018 Baldrige Award recipients!


Sunday, April 7
Join us Sunday evening for the Award Ceremony and Reception honoring the 2018 recipients.

Register Now | Book Your Hotel Room


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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Great to see health care organizations reaching this level! Will look forward to specifics/examples of their work shared in later pub's ... Go MHHCC, we're proud of ya!

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