The longest journey starts with but a single step, and the fruits of that first step taken over a year ago by Canyon Vista Medical Center (CVMC) are beginning to appear.

Bob Gomes, CEO of the hospital, faced many challenges when he assumed CVMC’s leadership twenty months ago.

Among the many challenges facing Bob stemmed from CVMC’s having seven CEO’s in five years, for constant turnover is not conducive to stability and quality in health care.

One challenge he faced was the Leapfrog ratings which were not all that good, and certainly needed attention.

Improving Leapfrog safety ratings is not a rapid process since the 2016-2018 data used by Leapfrog is not necessarily current.

The speed of improvement reporting is similar to turning an aircraft carrier in a narrow harbor.

Expressing his philosophy in a letter to the Herald, Bob once wrote, “Canyon Vista Medical Center is deeply committed to providing high quality, compassionate care and ensuring a safe environment for all patients, families, and visitors.”

It was this philosophy that provided the impetus to improve CVMC’s Leapfrog score to a “C” in the current 2019 Fall report. And CVMC is now working to obtain a “B” rating in the 2020 Spring ratings. With its demonstrated commitment to improving safety, CVMC’s staff will in all likely be successful.

Bob and his staff revamped clinical processes to create a daily focus on safety and quality of care practices. They looked for best practices in a collaborative manner, and their view was taken through an integrative perspective as opposed to silo mentality. Bob recently reported in his weekly newsletter that these measures have led to improvements in outcomes for areas such as surgical site infections, patient falls, pressure ulcers, and post-operative complications. When asked for his thoughts about these improvement, Bob said, “I am extremely proud of our caregivers for the care we provide our patients and their continued focus on improvement.” He also went on to tell me that CVMC has not had any recent incidents of MRSA, a very serious infection, that hospitals constantly battle.

The emphasis on safety has gone beyond the operational level. At the governance level, the board established a board safety and quality committee which oversees the operational processes in quality and safety. This is a significant action that has contributed to the Leapfrog improvement score since it sends a signal to the staff that the board is serious about these issues.

Having a board quality and safety committee is a positive feature in the eyes of Joint Commission since, as many evaluators have told me, ”Safety begins at the top.” Ruth Quinn, CVMC Board Chair said, “The board of trustees is delighted to celebrate Canyon Vista’s improving scores. It validates the hard work that our caregivers have put in to make that happen. We are very proud of them!”

A while back, I also had the opportunity to talk with Chief Nursing Officer Karen Reed about CVMC’s Leapfrog improvement.

A dedicated nursing staff plays a major role in attaining any improvement in the quality and safety features of a hospital, and I was impressed at the sincerity she displayed. One thing I found interesting and quite revealing was a white board on Karen’s wall with a variety of “to do” things related to Leapfrog improvement.

I asked Karen about the processes taking place, and she said, ”I believe that every single person who works at Canyon Vista is deeply committed to creating a place that our community can feel confident in bringing its loved ones to for care. We are working hard to put systems and processes in place to ensure that we are deserving of their trust.”

With that belief, it’s hard to imagine CVMC’s not earning another improved score in Leapfrog ‘s Spring ratings.

Lanny A. Kope, EdD has been a hospital trustee for over forty years, serving on urban and rural hospital boards. He is the past Board Chair of Sierra Vista Regional Health Center and has had a national responsibility as Chair of the American Hospital Association’s Committee on Governance. Dr. Kope is also an University of Phoenix faculty member in Health Care.

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