Southwest Medical Center

  • Location: Liberal, KS
  • Award: Rural Healthcare Organization of the Month
  • Awarded: May 2014

Providing “quality healthcare close to home” is the focus for all leaders, physicians and employees at Southwest Medical Center in Liberal, Kansas. Located in rural Southwest Kansas, Southwest Medical Center is a 101 bed, not-for-profit hospital which is celebrating 50 years of service this year.

Although SWMC is governed by a Board of Trustees appointed by the Board of County Commissioners of Seward County, it is one of few community-owned hospitals in the state which has never requested taxes to be levied for operating, maintaining, equipping or improving the hospital. As many rural hospitals struggle with changes to the healthcare landscape, SWMC continues to serve as a regional medical center for residents in Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico.

Following a 2010 bond election with an 82 percent approval margin from the community, Southwest Medical Center completed an initial construction phase in 2013 which included updated infrastructure, expanded care areas for the emergency department and the installation of a new 1.5 Tesla MRI.

In an effort to continue to strengthen the organization, Southwest Medical Center’s team of employees, physicians and board members agreed to enter into a partnership with the Studer Group in September 2012. Using Studer’s patient satisfaction tools, focusing on leadership development and working closely with Studer Group coach Mark Noon, SWMC has seen sustained improvements in areas of patient care and employee retention. The overall rating of the Emergency Department for 2013 shows a nearly 13 percent increase in patient satisfaction compared to scores prior to SWMC’s partnership with the Studer Group in 2012. Employee turnover rates fell nearly 6 percent from 2012 to 2013 while full-time and part-time RN turnover fell 7 percent from 2012 to 2013.

Studer Group initiatives implemented in the hospital include quarterly Leadership Development Institute training for managers and supervisors, employee forums, hourly rounding on patients, rounding on employees, improved communication with patients, organizational goals, thank you notes, discharge phone calls and more.

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned in our journey with the Studer Group, it’s that change can be difficult. However, when you have the right goals, the right team, and the right processes in place, change becomes not only attainable, but very exciting,” SWMC President and CEO Bill Ermann explains, “Our employees consistently receive comments from patients and visitors that something about Southwest Medical Center is different – that employees go out of their way to assist them or that patient care staff take more time to explain processes to patients and families. Our community is recognizing our efforts and that’s the most encouraging sign of all – we know that we’re heading in the right direction.”

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