MERMH and HYMC kick off participation in national quality improvement initiative

Ministry Eagle River Memorial Hospital (MERMH) and Howard Young Medical Center (HYMC) announced today that it has been selected to participate in the Aligning Forces for Quality Hospital Quality Network (AF4Q Hospital Quality Network), a quality improvement network of over 130 hospitals aimed to address the need to improve the quality, efficiency and equity of care delivered in hospitals across the country. MERMH and HYMC were hand-picked by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated to improving the health and health care of all Americans, to support efforts to improve health care quality.

The AF4Q Hospital Quality Network includes three separate quality improvement initiatives aimed at helping hospitals tackle key issues like racial and ethnic disparities, time spent in Emergency Departments (EDs) or readmissions of patients recently discharged.

As a participant in the Reducing Readmissions component, MERMH and HYMC will be positioned to make cutting-edge and lasting changes to improve the quality of cardiac care with a specific goal of reducing readmission rates. The initiative will focus on cardiac care because, whether experiencing a heart attack, heart failure or other conditions, the recommended standard of care for cardiac patients is clear and accepted among medical professionals nationwide.

As a participant in the Increasing Throughput component, HYMC will be positioned to improve emergency department throughput while also identifying and reducing potential racial and ethnic disparities in care provided. HYMC aims to improve select emergency department performance measures by 15 percent before March 2012.

“As the state and the nation look at improving care, it is important that we provide local models of reforms that are good for everyone,” said Sheila Clough, President, Ministry Howard Young Health Care. “MERMH and HYMC’s participation in this program shows that we are committed to being a leader in improving patient care and increasing efficiency to produce better outcomes.”

Staff at MERMH and HYMC will work together to lead efforts to improve the quality and safety of patient care by piloting and testing new quality improvement strategies over an eighteen-month period. Staff will collect and submit data which will be examined by patient race, ethnicity and/or language (REL).

“By participating in the Hospital Quality Network, MERMH and HYMC will be on the frontlines improving patient care and increasing efficiency to produce better outcomes for patients in our community and nationwide,” said Karen Lauer, Quality Improvement, Ministry Howard Young Health Care. “This program will empower our staff to reduce avoidable readmissions and improve emergency department patient throughput time while developing and spreading replicable quality improvement strategies that can help health care providers across the country.”

It’s all part of Aligning Forces for Quality, the Foundation’s signature effort to lift the overall quality of health care in targeted communities, as well as reduce racial and ethnic disparities and provide models for national reform. Wisconsin Hospital Association was selected by RWJF to lead the local AF4Q alliance in Wisconsin. In all, 17 regions of the country have been designated as part of Aligning Forces. In each region, a range of efforts to help doctors, nurses and hospitals improve quality – as well as engage consumers to be better patients – is being tested.

Funded by RWJF, AF4Q and the AF4Q Hospital Quality Network are coordinated by The Center for Health Care Quality at The George Washington University Medical Center School of Public Health and Health Services, which serves as the national program office for the Aligning Forces for Quality initiative.

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