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How do you go about creating a great hospital from the ground up?
That’s a question we asked ourselves a few years back when the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center first decided to build a new hospital to serve the burgeoning population in southern Sandoval County.
Our starting point was our guiding vision: Every day, we measure our success as a public academic institution by the degree to which health and health equity is improved in our state.
There were other factors to consider.
One was the physical structure. We needed a building that would meet the very latest design standards – an important consideration given that rapid advances in medical and information technology have rendered obsolete facilities built only a generation ago.
Equally important was the human element – the physicians, nurses and staff who would be providing services at this new hospital. They had to be united in their commitment to providing the best possible care for their patients while upholding the HSC’s mission of service.
This vision became a reality last year when the 72-bed UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center opened its doors near Rio Rancho City Hall.
In less than 18 months, the hospital has made good on its promise, winning the enthusiastic endorsement of its most critical constituency: its patients.
Earlier this month, Press Ganey Associates named Sandoval Regional Medical Center one of its 2013 Guardian of Excellence award winners. This prestigious award from the industry’s leader in measuring, understanding and improving the patient experience recognizes top medical facilities that have consistently achieved the 95th percentile of performance in patient satisfaction.
Naturally, I was gratified to see our health professionals’ hard work acknowledged with this award, but I knew it was no accident. From the outset, we were determined to build the right team for the job based on a carefully articulated set of values.
With the help of Ann Rhoades, a nationally respected human resources executive and member of the HSC’s Board of Directors, we defined the attributes we were looking for in each person who interviewed for a job at SRMC: integrity, an ethic of service, a passion for excellence, a commitment to quality and patient safety, and an aptitude for teamwork.
Press Ganey’s surveys show SRMC patients are very happy with how they and their families are treated in the hospital, with how well their doctors and nurses explain what to expect, and with the ease of routine procedures like admitting and discharge. They appreciate that doctors and nurses continue to follow up after they leave the hospital.
Moving forward, SRMC continues to draw on the expertise of the UNM Health System’s medical faculty, who provide patients with all the benefits of a university teaching hospital in a community hospital setting.
We are also partnering with local physicians and surgeons not affiliated with UNM. They are putting their skills in orthopedics and bariatric medicine to good use in our well-equipped operating suites. We fully expect that, before long, SRMC will be the destination hospital for bariatric surgery in New Mexico.
Community members meanwhile have discovered the speed and convenience of our emergency department, which has dramatically shorter waiting times than any other facility in the Albuquerque metro area.
SRMC’s commitment to Sandoval County involves more than health care. We also support local economic development by providing hundreds of well-paying jobs, creating a path to new career opportunities for local residents.
In an era when almost everyone complains about access to quality health care, we should remember that, with foresight and hard work, we can make the experience of hospitalization less intimidating simply by treating our patients in the way we would like to be treated.
Dr. Paul B. Roth is dean of the UNM School of Medicine and board president of the Sandoval Regional Medical Center.