Southwestern Vermont Medical Center wins prestigious honor for nursing

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BENNINGTON — Southwestern Vermont Medical Center's efforts to help high-risk, chronically ill patients make better decisions about their care and avoid hospitalization have been honored with one of a national nursing organization's most prestigious honors.

The hospital received the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Magnet Prize for its Accountable Communities for Health program at the group's conference last week in Houston. It's the highest honor that the organization gives yearly to its Magnet-designated hospitals such as SVMC.

According to the ANCC, the award is given yearly to an organization "whose proposed project best describes cutting-edge research, practices, services, technologies, programs, or other exemplary innovations designed to increase the knowledge base of support for patient care and nursing excellence and to demonstrate positive outcomes."

The criteria include that the project be initiated by the nursing staff; that it be "transformative of nursing, patient care, or the nursing environment;" that it can be replicated in other settings; and that it has the potential for positive outcomes. SVMC was one of 60 hospitals vying for the Magnet Prize.

Hospital president and CEO Thomas Dee hailed SVMC's nursing team for the initiative, which he described as requiring "an innovative approach, dedicated teamwork, and years of constant effort" and reflecting "steadfast devotion to our mission of exceptional care and comfort for the people we serve."

"With this award, our nursing and clinical team has placed SVMC — a small health system from a small town in a small state — among the best respected and most notable health care institutions in the world," Dee said.

Carol Conroy, the hospital's chief nursing officer, said the award "represents the successful implementation of our nurse-driven initiative through the collaboration and partnership of multiple organizations with Southwestern Vermont Medical Center and our skilled nurses to deliver integrated care in our community."

"SVMC is pleased to be recognized for our innovative nursing approach, as it represents a foundation for healthcare in the future," she said.

Over the past three years, SVMC has developed and applied Accountable Communities for Health to help high-risk, chronically ill patients, behavioral health patients, and patients dealing with substance abuse, understand their ability to make decisions about their care. By collaborating with local human services agencies and providers, the project has led to patients knowing more about the resources available to them — and significantly reduced the number of emergency department visits and hospital admissions.

As part of the award, SVMC will present the outcomes resulting from its initiative at next year's ANCC National Magnet Conference.

The Magnet Prize is the second major award given by ANCC in connection with the Accountable Communities for Health program. In 2016, SVMC nurse Barbara Richardson won the National Magnet Nurse of the Year for her work to establish the program.

SVMC was the first Vermont hospital to earn ANCC's Magnet designation, in 2002, and is among only 43 hospitals that have continually passed the rigorous review process for that honor, hospital spokeswoman Ashley Jowett said.

Reach Greg Sukiennik at 802-490-6000.


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