Taken from New Jersey Business
By Meg Fry
February 1, 2021
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, New Jersey healthcare institutions and employees deliver award-winning, high-quality services.
New Jersey experienced more than 438,000 cases and 18,000 deaths from COVID-19 last year.
As an epicenter at the start of the pandemic, hospitals and health systems in the state were expected to address not only the virus, but also the immediate rise of telehealth, increased scrutiny of new treatments, personal protective equipment shortages, and more – all while revenues declined, and expenses and employee burnout increased.
Now, with vaccinations underway, hospitals can only assume their performance in 2020 will be used to influence both future care and staffing needs, with patients once again facing a choice about where they get treated, and nurses and physicians wanting to work in more supportive environments with superior outcomes.
That is precisely why awards and recognitions in healthcare matter, says Tom Scott, senior vice president and chief operating officer of CentraState Healthcare System.hospital
“We want to be the high quality healthcare provider in the area, and when we receive these awards and recognitions, it’s not us telling the community that we’re great, but rather it’s the perspective of an objective third-party they can trust,” Scott says. “Additionally, they help to build employee pride and spirit. It’s uplifting when the staff hears what we’ve achieved. It is also an incredibly attractive tool for recruitment.”
Dr. Steven Sheris, senior vice president of physician enterprise and president of Atlantic Medical Group at Atlantic Health System, says awards and recognitions can also help with costs.
“Some entities that help pay for care, whether they be government or commercial carriers, use these awards as evidence that we deserve to be the preferred provider and partner for care delivery,” Sheris says.
According to the New Jersey Hospital Association, more than 15 million patients receive care from 113 hospitals in New Jersey each year. With more than 150,000 employees, hospitals are the largest private-sector employer in the state.
But this past year may have made all the difference to future patients and healthcare workers.
“For example, the government turned to our leaders for advice in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, viewing us as a trusted partner and arbiter of truth and science despite any political roiling, and we’re now leveraging that as we proceed into the vaccination phase,” Sheris says. “We’re going to use that trust to help share knowledge with our communities and our patients so we can move medicine forward at a crucial time in our history.”
Leapfrog Group Grades and Awards
Overall, America’s Health Rankings’ “2020 Annual Report” ranked New Jersey 4th in health outcomes and 26th in clinical care.
Still, 25 New Jersey hospitals received an “A” grade from the Leapfrog Group in fall 2020, with the grade being widely cited as a gold standard measure of patient safety nationwide.
Additionally, the Leapfrog Group recognized RWJBarnabas Health’s patient experience team for its heroism, enhanced service delivery, and quality connections with patients during the pandemic, while awarding Englewood Health with the title of Pandemic Hero of the Year for its courage and compassion while at the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis.
“Throughout the pandemic, our entire team did not hesitate for one moment to care for the many communities we serve,” says Warren Geller, president and CEO of Englewood Health. “What I witnessed, not surprisingly, was each and every member of the Englewood Health team stepping up in every way imaginable.”
In particular, Englewood Health created a physician liaison team, so that those not caring for COVID-19 patients could serve as connections for patient families, including making daily phone calls and using virtual technology. Englewood Health also established an employee relief fund and heavily promoted its employee assistance programs, including mental health support for its more than 5,000 workers.
“At Englewood Health, we have a culture of family, and that feeling of being part of something bigger than you is my takeaway on how a healthcare organization can weather a public health crisis of this magnitude,” says Kathleen Kaminsky, senior vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at Englewood Health.