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The Difference Between Nursing 'magnetic' NorthBay Hospital Win

High fives, hugs and tears are marked as NorthBay care hospital, Thursday morning, nurse one five years of the end of the journey.

That’s when the health care provider was notified that NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield and NorthBay VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville earned the coveted “Magnet” designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

“The Magnet Recognition Program is the ultimate benchmark for patients and their families to measure the quality of care they can expect at a hospital,” explained an exuberant Kathy Richerson, vice president and chief nursing officer. “It’s called ‘Magnet’ because we are able to attract and retain top-flight professional nurses.”

Making the rounds at VacaValley, Richerson fought back tears as she recognized the hard work the nursing staff put into the five-year journey.

“It’s very emotional for us,” she said. “At times we felt like it we weren’t going to get there, but suddenly we’re here.”

Only 6 percent of hospitals in the United States have earned Magnet status after exhibiting exemplary patient care, positive clinical outcomes and innovation in professional nursing practices.

NorthBay Healthcare is the only hospital in Solano County to receive such a distinction and joins Stanford Hospital, UC San Francisco Medical Center, UC Davis Medical Center and John Muir Medical Center as Magnet hospitals in Northern California. Others nationwide include the Mayo Clinic of Rochester, N.Y., Cleveland Clinic and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

“Today, our passion for patient care and the nursing profession was validated,” Richerson said. “It’s an incredible achievement. We saw it as a way to raise the bar for services.”

While prestige comes with the Magnet distinction, Richerson said that it’s much more than bragging rights.

“Physicians seek to work in hospitals where the quality is high,” she said. “We have to continually meet high outcomes. Better outcomes means reduced risk and increased safety for patients and that in turn makes it cost effective.”

In April, nursing leaders submitted a 14-inch-thick document for Magnet designation. It chronicled improvement and innovation in nursing practices, as well as higher scores on an annual nursing satisfaction survey.

To earn the distinction, NorthBay also improved its patient satisfaction ratings and increased the percentage of nurses with national certifications and advanced nursing degrees. NorthBay nurses participated in fellowships and evidence-based projects to improve what they do for patients.

The foundation for the Magnet journey, according to Richerson, was the dawn of shared governance, bringing nurses into decision-making at the departmental and divisional levels. “We created a more collaborative environment, not just within nursing, but with other disciplines in the hospital,” she said.

Deborah Sugiyama, president of NorthBay Healthcare Group, lauded the recognition as a system-wide achievement. “Whether it is someone in the pharmacy or laboratory, or a clerk on the unit or a member of our environmental services team, each person contributes to the magnetism of our organization,” she said.

Rhonda Martin, NorthBay assistant vice president of nursing operations, agreed.

“This is incredible,” she said. “It was a team effort and we couldn’t have done it without the participation of other departments.”

Once the 16-volume document was submitted, the credentialing agency spent three months poring over the documentation. Three surveyors then visited both hospitals for a three-day, on-site validation visit. The rigorous review was to ensure 88 standards for excellence were met.

Chris Stevenson, NorthBay’s Magnet program director, said the journey has been enlightening and rewarding.

“It affirms the value of the work our nurses do every day, caring for members of the community who entrust us with their healthcare needs,” she said. “I’m very proud of each member of our NorthBay team.

“It tells the story of all the great work,” she continued. “It’s been fun hearing the nurses share the meaningful work that they do.”

According to the American Nurses Credentialing Center, consumers rely on Magnet designation as the ultimate credential for high quality nursing. Magnet is the leading source of successful nursing practices and strategies

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