State’s Award-Winning Hospitals

Healthcare institutions that receive high marks for patient care and safety.

Hospitals and healthcare organizations throughout the Garden State are continuing to prove that there’s no need to seek out the highest level of patient care and safety in neighboring cities like New York or Philadelphia. Thanks to distinctions ranging from Magnet Recognition from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, to safety awards by the prestigious Leapfrog Group, local hospitals continue to demonstrate every day that the latest healthcare innovations are being combined with a heightened commitment to patient satisfaction right here in New Jersey.

“We’re very proud of the fact that New Jersey always has a pretty significant presence on various ‘Top Hospital’ lists, from Leapfrog to US News & World Report,” says Elizabeth A. Ryan, president and CEO of the New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA). “I believe it’s because our member hospitals have been truly focused on quality improvement and patient safety, from reducing sepsis mortality rates to lowering hospital readmission rates.”

Indeed, many of the state’s hospitals have been recognized with prestigious national awards and recognitions in patient safety. For example, Ridgewood-based Valley Hospital and Valley Health System have been recognized for clinical areas including oncology, cardiology, orthopedic surgery and neuroscience, and recent awards include its ninth “A” grade in patient safety from The Leapfrog Group, a national leader and advocate in hospital transparency. The hospital was also included on Becker’s Hospital Review’s list of “100 Hospitals and Health Systems with Great Oncology Programs,” and achieved recognition as one of Healthgrades “America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Orthopedic Surgery” and “America’s 50 Best Hospitals for Vascular Surgery.” Healthgrades also recently recognized Valley with clinical excellence awards for general surgery, neurosurgery, gynecologic surgery, patient safety and patient experience.

“It’s not about the awards, per se; it’s about improving the standards of healthcare, and the awards are a reflection of the success of our efforts. We understand that patients today have options when it comes to choosing a healthcare provider, and it’s our goal to be the hospital of choice for the communities we serve,” says Audrey Meyers, president and CEO of The Valley Hospital and Valley Health System. “These outstanding recognitions are a testament to the priority Valley staff and physicians place on achieving the highest-quality clinical outcomes, while delivering the most compassionate care.”

One of today’s most relevant awards is Hospitals and Health Networks “Most Wired Hospital” award. “We believe it’s an extremely important award because we live in an electronic world, and technology has only made the healthcare industry even more complex … so it’s crucial for us to become better at what we do by taking advantage of advancements in technology,” says Dr. John F. Bonamo, chief medical officer and executive vice president of West Orange-based RWJBarnabas Health. Along with its hospitals like Jersey City Medical Center receiving its 10th grade of “A” by Leapfrog out of only 10 published reporting periods, the hospital system was also recently recognized as one of the country’s best teaching hospitals when Livingston-based Saint Barnabas was listed as one of the 29 top teaching hospitals nationwide.

One series of awards that many Garden State hospitals strive to achieve are special certifications and accreditation by the Joint Commission. Throughout its hospital system, RWJBarnabas Health has earned certifications in areas including: heart failure, stroke, cardiac rehab, joint replacement of the hip and knee, and breast cancer, among others.

“We don’t necessarily try to chase awards, but what we do appreciate about the awards process is that it gives you a roadmap to follow; these awards may not all be a perfect yardstick, but if you or your loved one was in the hospital, they encompass all of the things you would want throughout the treatment process,” Bonamo says. “The bottom line is that this kind of transparency, public reporting and scrutiny leads to better patient care, and helps us ensure that we’re doing the absolute best we can for every patient.”

Capital Health is also receiving recognitions from the Joint Commission and other healthcare organizations. Last year, its Marjorie G. Ernest Joint Replacement Center earned its second Gold Seal of Approval for total joint hip replacement from the Joint Commission, while the hospital’s stroke center, part of the Capital Institute for Neurosciences, was recertified as an Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center – one of only six hospitals in New Jersey to meet the commission’s highest standards for providing complex stroke and cerebrovascular care.

The hospital’s Bristol-Myers Squibb Trauma Center was also recertified as a Level II Trauma Center by the Committee on Trauma of the American College of Surgeons, and its endoscopy unit was recognized by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy for its commitment to patient safety and quality in endoscopy.

“Our slogan, ‘Minds Advancing Medicine,’ speaks to our mission to provide the highest quality, comprehensive medical care in our region, backed by some of the most experienced medical experts as well as cutting-edge technology for treatment and diagnoses,” says Dr. Al Maghazehe, chief executive officer and president of Capital Health. “While we’re all very proud of the accolades we achieved in 2016, our caring and highly-skilled team is continually working hard to offer patients the most state-of-the-art medical care without having to travel to big cities like Philadelphia and New York City.”

Showcasing another award-winning hospital, The Nursing Division at Elizabeth-based Trinitas was honored at the National League for Nursing Summit in Orlando, Florida with a second time designation as a “National League for Nursing Center of Excellence” for creating a workplace environment that supports the academic progression of nurses. Trinitas is one of only four hospitals in the United States to receive this designation.

“Over the last four years, 160 nurses at Trinitas have enrolled in BSN and MSN education and we have increased our BSN rate by 14.3 percent. This is a great accomplishment that demonstrates how strongly our nurses believe in the value of academic progression and its subsequent improvements in patient care,” says Mary McTigue, vice president, Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer. Trinitas School of Nursing is a three-time recipient and the first hospital-based nursing school in the US to receive the NLN’s Center of Excellence award.

Among the most well-known recognitions for the state’s hospitals come from US News & World Report. Last year, Valley Hospital ranked as the publication’s fifth best hospital in New Jersey and the 14th best hospital in the New York metropolitan area for 2016-2017. Valley was also honored with the highest possible rating in all nine common procedures and conditions that are rated by US News & World Report: abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, aortic valve surgery, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), colon cancer surgery, heart bypass surgery, heart failure, hip replacement, knee replacement and lung cancer surgery.

Now in its 27th year, the annual “US News Best Hospitals” rankings recognize hospitals that excel in treating the most challenging patients. Paterson-based St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center was another New Jersey hospital ranked among the top hospitals in the New York metropolitan area, and was listed among the top 10 in the state for 2016-2017.

A nonprofit national leader and advocate in hospital transparency, The Leapfrog Group recognized Teaneck-based Holy Name Medical Center as one of the top general hospitals in the United States, and one of the four best in New Jersey for safer and higher quality patient care. The Leapfrog Top General Hospital award is given to medical centers that have better systems in place to prevent medical errors, provide higher quality maternity care and high-risk procedures, and have lower readmission rates.

“The most important awards to us are those that use as much objective criteria as possible, like the awards from Leapfrog,” explains Mike Maron, president and CEO of Holy Name Medical Center. “Our employees rally together because they know these awards are a very accurate affirmation of their efforts and hard work … and we accept the fact that improvement is an ongoing journey and that the standards are continually going to evolve.”

For many of the state’s hospitals, a commitment to accountability is what has led to recognitions such as being named a Top Hospital by the Leapfrog Group. In 2016, Voorhees Township-based Virtua Voorhees was named a Top Hospital for the third consecutive year. The recognition is widely acknowledged as one of the most prestigious distinctions a hospital can receive in the country. “It’s always great to receive awards, but our focus as an organization is that if you hold people accountable to excellence, the awards will follow,” asserts Richard P. Miller, president and CEO of Virtua. “We pride ourselves on taking the time and making that kind of investment in our clinical staff.”

Many of the state’s hospitals are also being recognized by organizations such as the American Heart Association, which recently awarded Virtua with its Lifeline EMS Silver Award for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks. The hospital was also awarded the Get With the Guidelines Stroke Gold Plus Achievement Award from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association for the seventh consecutive year, and the intensive care unit at Virtua Voorhees received a Beacon Award for Excellence (Gold) by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

“For our employees, these awards are a validation of the hard work we put in every day, and a way for our employees to get excited about knowing they provide great care … these awards are meaningful to us because they represent how the community gauges us in terms of the care they receive,” Miller adds.

Along with receiving “A” grades in the Fall and Spring 2016 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, Kennedy Hospital received A’s in five consecutive rating periods, while Kennedy–Stratford was designated as a 2016 Leapfrog Top General Hospital. Last year, Kennedy was also named a “Sepsis Hero” by the National Sepsis Alliance – the only hospital in the country to be honored as such. “Sepsis is a very serious medical condition that unfortunately often goes unrecognized; within a matter of hours, a patient can go from stable to near death … so we really have to be aware of the warning signs and respond to them very quickly,” explains Kennedy Hospital’s Chief Physician Executive Dr. Carman Ciervo.

Kennedy also earned the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines Stroke Gold-Plus Quality Achievement Award, the highest recognition level. Kennedy Home Health Care was recognized in 2016 with a CMS Four-Star Rating, and was also honored with Fazzi Associates Patient Satisfaction Award of Distinction, which is presented to agencies in the top 25 percent nationally.

“There’s a lot of focus – as there should be – on quality, patient safety and the cost of care in the healthcare industry today. We’re looking at a new paradigm in healthcare where patients are seeking improved access and quality, but at a lower cost and with greater patient satisfaction,” Ciervo explains. “We’re proud to move the bar in a positive direction not only for the state of New Jersey, but more importantly, for our patients and the communities we serve.”

Hackensack University Medical Center, a member of Hackensack Meridian Health, has also been recognized for its excellence in several clinical areas; last year it became one of only 11 medical centers in the nation to be named a Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation (HNF) designated medical Center of Excellence. Hackensack University Medical Center is partnering with the HNF to address Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease and other hereditary neuropathies, and will serve as a hub for clinical care, community engagement, research, training and education for the CMT and inherited neuropathy community.

The hospital network was also recognized as National Research Corporation (NRC) 2016-2017 Consumer Choice Award winners: Hackensack University Medical Center and Neptune City-based Jersey Shore University Medical Center. This marked the 21st consecutive win for HackensackUMC in the Bergen-Passaic market – every year since the award’s inception.

“Today’s healthcare market is all about consumer-driven products and services,” explains Robert C. Garrett, co-CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health. “Patients know they have a choice as to where to receive healthcare, and throughout our network we have focused on responding to and anticipating the needs of our patients and their loved ones.”

Along with recognitions received by non-profit organizations, national agencies such as Healthgrades and Quantros have also recognized New Jersey hospitals like Englewood Hospital and Medical Center for medical excellence and patient safety in cardiac surgery, cardiology, gastroenterology, general surgery, neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery, cancer care, vascular surgery and women’s health. St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center was recognized as the only hospital in New Jersey to receive the following 2016 Excellence Awards from Healthgrades: Labor and Delivery Excellence Award, Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) Excellence Award, and the Gynecologic Surgery Excellence Award.

Englewood Hospital also received a Safety Grade of “A” for the fall 2016 period from the Leapfrog Group, which is the 10th consecutive time the hospital has earned the recognition. The hospital was also listed among of US News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals,” and last year, Englewood also received its fourth consecutive redesignation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet Recognition Program institution, which identifies superior quality in nursing care by evaluating performance outcomes. Only seven percent of United States’ healthcare organizations have achieved Magnet Recognition.

“These awards demonstrate that we are truly an exceptional resource and safety net for our community. Earning recognition for so many of our medical specialties, for our remarkable nursing team, for our cutting-edge technology – particularly as the acuity of our patients continues to rise – is an honor well deserved by our staff and entire medical team,” says Warren Geller, president and CEO of Englewood Hospital and Medical Center. “These awards encourage us – as well as the broader New Jersey healthcare industry – to continue to innovate and raise the standard of care.”

New Brunswick-based Saint Peter’s Healthcare System was also a recipient of the Magnet award for its nursing staff, and is only the fifth hospital in the world to earn that redesignation for the fifth consecutive four-year term. “It’s been 20 years in the running that our nursing staff received the world’s highest honor for its nursing service,” confirms Ronald Rak, president and CEO of Saint Peter’s Healthcare System. “We are very much committed to providing quality medical services, and we’re gratified that these outside rating agencies have recognized our efforts.” Saint Peter’s was also awarded a score of “A” for safety by Leapfrog, as well as the Beacon Award of Excellence (Silver) for its neonatal intensive care unit and its adult intensive care unit. “The spirit of our hospital is that quality is everyone’s responsibility, from the physicians and nurses, to the person preparing meals for our patients, to the person dusting the furniture in the waiting area,” Rak adds.

Looking ahead, Ryan says she believes the willingness of the state’s hospitals to learn from each other will continue to help the Garden State’s healthcare organizations earn awards. “I think there’s a sincere effort amongst our member hospitals to collaborate and work together across the continuum of care … and that’s so important from a patient perspective,” she concludes. “Healthcare providers are healthcare providers, and the more they collaborate and work together to continue to improve the level of care they can offer patients, the better.”


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