For the staff at Metro Health-University of Michigan Health, “Go Blue” is more than a sports cheer. It’s also a phrase they use to remind colleagues to wash their hands, a vital practice for health care safety and quality.
“It’s a good phrase for us, as a Michigan institution,” said Dr. Ronald Grifka, chief medical officer. “It’s also just a gentle reminder that we’re working as a team and we’re going to help each other to get better as a team.”
Getting better as a team is a constant at Metro Health, the only Grand Rapids-area hospital to earn an “A” rating in the Leapfrog Group’s most recent Hospital Safety Grade.
“That’s just one measure of the hospital, and it certainly is a nice descriptor of the care for our patients and their safety,” Grifka said. “But the goal isn’t to get the grade of A. The goal is to be really good at taking care of people, and then you’ll get the grade of A.”
Leapfrog, an independent nonprofit group, uses up to 27 measures in its safety review of hospitals nationwide, including rates of preventable errors, injuries and infections, and whether hospitals have systems in place to prevent them.
The “A” grade does not mark an endpoint, said Stacie Bommersbach, Metro Health’s vice president of quality and patient safety.
“We’re going to continue the journey as a highly reliable organization,” she said. “It’s really about having a transparent culture because if people are not able to bring issues forward and we don’t know about them, then we can’t correct them.”
Bommersbach, who joined Metro Health in October, said she was drawn in part by the senior leadership’s commitment to quality and patient safety.
“I don’t think we’re ever going to rest from trying to make it better for our patients,” she said. “It’s pretty exciting because we have physicians coming over from Michigan Medicine to bring that level of care to the west side of the state. As we bring on new clinical services, we want to make sure that we’re designing quality processes so the community can trust us.”
Bommersbach and Grifka alike said the “A” rating is a testament to the entire staff’s commitment to quality and safety.
“Everybody pitches in to make this a really good place to take care of patients,” Grifka said.
Like the “Go Blue” reminder, another phrase Grifka encourages is one he learned earlier in his career: “How did you make us better today?”
“We’re a very good hospital,” he said, “but how can we get a little bit better today? And if we can do that every day, we’re heading in the right direction.”