Providing safe care is Northeast Georgia Health System’s (NGHS) priority, and that dedication to safety led to NGHS receiving the first-ever High Reliability Organization (HRO) Foundation Award from Press Ganey – a national company focused on improving health care. The award will be given to just one health system each year.

An HRO is an organization that operates in complex, high-risk environments, yet experiences less accidents or harmful events than anticipated. One example of NGHS’ high reliability is Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) Barrow having zero serious safety events in over a year and zero adverse clinical events like hospital-acquired infections, pressure injuries or falls resulting in injury.

“We’re proud to be able to share this recognition of our team’s performance with the communities we serve,” said Sonja McLendon, chief of operational excellence at NGHS. “Achieving zero harm is a very difficult thing to do, even at a small hospital. But it just goes to show – and is a direct reflection of – the safe, efficient, high quality and compassionate care we offer across all of our facilities.”

NGHS began its high reliability journey in 2014 and has continued to evolve and refine its daily management system, integrated improvement work and strategy deployment processes since then.

“Northeast Georgia Health System has embedded high reliability organizing principles and practices across their organization as a chassis to drive improvements across safety, quality, experience and engagement and reflects leadership’s deep dedication to making the right work easier to do,” said Tejal Gandhi, chief safety and transformation officer at Press Ganey. “We are so honored to recognize NGHS as the first organization to receive this inaugural recognition. The work they are doing inspires us all to bring our industry to new heights – leveraging both people and processes to ensure an optimal human experience.”

Press Ganey also recognized two NGMC hospital campuses with specific awards. NGMC Braselton won the Guardian of Excellence award for patient experience – specifically in the neonatal intensive care unit. The patient experience award is given to organizations that achieved the 95th percentile or higher for survey measures including a patient’s likelihood to recommend the hospital, their overall rating of the hospital and perception of teamwork.

Additionally, NGMC Barrow won the Guardian of Excellence award for employee experience for its second year in a row. The employee experience award honors facilities for their performance in employee engagement or physician engagement.

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