svmc magnet celebration

Members of the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center staff celebrate the hospital's fifth Magnet designation.

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BENNINGTON — Southwestern Vermont Medical Center has attained its fifth designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet Recognition Program. SVMC was the first hospital in Vermont to receive the designation in 2002, and is one of only three hospitals in New England and 28 worldwide to win the accreditation for a fifth time.

“The Magnet designation is challenging. It takes sustained commitment throughout every day of our practice and strong and productive relationships with physician colleagues and others in every department within the health system,” said Pamela Duchene, PhD, APRN, the chief nursing officer and vice president for Patient Care Services.

“We are grateful for our 20-year partnership with Magnet, because it ensures that we are providing care at the highest standard and inspires us to break new ground in pursuit of the best possible care for patients,” Duchene said.

According to SVMC, obtaining Magnet recognition challenges hospitals to integrate the program’s concepts — transformational leadership, structural empowerment, exemplary professional practice, innovation, and the measurement of outcomes — into the fabric of their nursing operations. Nurses work with the support and guidance of their supervisors and in collaboration with other departments to improve care. They document and submit the results of dozens of complex multi-year improvement projects during each redesignation, which occurs every four years.

“Being recognized by Magnet for the fifth consecutive time is a tremendous honor,” said SVHC’s president and CEO, Thomas A. Dee. “Our extraordinarily skilled nurses provide unparalleled care and while collaborating with physicians and colleagues to deliver excellent patient outcomes and reshape healthcare for the future.”

Magnet’s review of applicants’ documentation — which includes hundreds of pages of research, implementation, and outcomes — is a rigorous and lengthy process, SVMC said. The hospital must meet the highest standard in order to advance to the next level, a site visit, which occurred virtually in November. The appraisal is a thorough review of all aspects of nursing, including the collection of feedback from leaders, staff, and community members.

Beyond the benefits of the projects themselves, the integration of the program’s concepts have a proven association with the highest quality care and better hospital performance overall, ANCC said. Patients in Magnet facilities report higher satisfaction with nurse communication, availability of help, and receipt of discharge information, according to the organization.

Magnet hospitals demonstrate better outcomes in key performance indicators, and have higher job satisfaction among nurses, more highly trained nurses, and lower turnover rates, according to ANCC. Highly qualified and satisfied staff members are shown to have a positive impact on patient safety.

“The Magnet designation signifies outstanding physician-nurse collaboration in pursuit of clinical excellence,” said SVMC’s Chief Medical Officer Trey Dobson, MD. “It is part of what makes SVMC the remarkable small hospital it is.”

SVMC adopted Magnet standards in 1998 and was first designated in 2002. At every stage, facilities undergoing the redesignation process must provide evidence that their nursing teams have sustained and surpassed their execution of Magnet standards since the previous review.

“The rewards associated with the hard work of meeting Magnet’s rigorous review are many,” Duchene said. “It means that our highly skilled and deeply compassionate nurses are confident that they are providing the best possible care. That brings tremendous satisfaction and inspires the entire health system toward an always-improving mindset.”

SVMC has earned several other prominent distinctions. Most recently, SVMC received the American Hospital Association’s Rural Healthcare Leadership Award for transformational change in efforts toward healthcare reform. SVMC was ranked fourth in the nation for healthcare value by the Lown Institute Hospitals Index in 2020 and earned an ‘A’ for hospital safety from the Leapfrog Group for 2 years in a row. During the pandemic, SVMC and both its skilled nursing facilities, the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation in Bennington, and the Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation at Hoosick Falls, earned perfect scores on a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services evaluation meant to determine the ability to prevent transmission of COVID-19 and other infections.

“Everyone at SVMC is focused on our mission of providing exceptional care and comfort to our patients. Extraordinary nurses along with physician partnerships and dedicated staff all over the health system, are the foundation of the high quality care SVMC provides,” Dee said. “By continuing to reach for the next level of achievement, we excel in patient care and that’s what’s matters most.”


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