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County Commends Washington Hospital on Magnet Status

January 10, 2012

Nursing Staff Recognized for Outstanding Quality Care, High Standards
Numerous studies indicate that nursing care is a crucial element impacting patient outcomes in the hospital setting. The higher the nurse-to-patient ratio, the more educated a hospital's nurses are, the better the hospital is at retaining top-quality nursing talent. All these things impact the level of care at a hospital.

Demonstrating its continued commitment to excellence in nursing care, Washington Hospital Healthcare System was granted Magnet® status recognition from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) in September.  This achievement was recognized by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors with a proclamation delivered by County Supervisor Scott Haggarty at the Washington Hospital Health Care District board meeting on Dec. 14, 2011.
The commendation recognizes Washington Hospital’s significant contributions to the citizens of Fremont and Alameda County, as well as the commitment to excellence demonstrated by the nursing staff and the leadership of the Washington Hospital executive team and Board of Directors.

Prestigious Distinction
A Magnet designation is the highest level of recognition that a hospital can achieve for nursing excellence. Only 6.7 percent of hospitals in the United States have earned this status and Washington Hospital is just one of 24 hospitals in California to receive this designation.

"Achieving Magnet status means that we have excellent outcomes here at Washington Hospital," explains Martha Giggleman, R.N., Washington Hospital's Senior Director of Clinical Workforce Development. "Being recognized really sets us apart as we represent one of only five hospitals in the Bay Area with this distinction. At the root of it, we have well-established hospital nursing structures and processes in place that have allowed us to achieve excellent patient outcomes."

The hospital, Giggleman says, has a history of excellent nurse satisfaction scores from a pool of very qualified and highly educated nursing professionals.

"We also have a strong focus on research, a well-engrained shared governance structure and a professional practice model that guides our nursing practice," says Giggleman. "It's really the combination of work started years ago by Jan Wood, R.N., Senior Associate Administrator and Chief Nursing Officer and Nancy Farber, CEO that has helped us get to this point and why we've been very successful and above standard in many areas."

In striving to reach Magnet® status, Giggleman says the level of team work and professionalism on the part of the nursing staff has reached new heights.

"Nurses also work as an interdisciplinary team with all staff and departments at Washington Hospital," she says. "We collaborate to provide the best care possible for all of our patients."

High Standards Mean Better Care

The ANCC standards for Magnet® status hospitals are very high. When Washington Hospital comes under review for re-designation in 2015, all nurse leaders must have either a bachelor's or a graduate degree in nursing.

Not only did Washington Hospital receive Magnet designation but the ANCC also recognized the hospital for the following exemplary practice areas:
Staff education levels

  • Shared governance structure
  • Leadership
  • Evidence-based practice (Washington Hospital was the only example of a hospital that had a nurse who presented research during a physician conference)

Another highlight of the recognition, Giggleman says, was the response to Washington Hospital's long-standing Patient First Ethic.

"All three appraisers during the ANCC's onsite visit talked about our Patient First Ethic and said, 'We thought those are just words on the page,'" she says. "But after they spent time here and talked to the nursing staff, they said they saw it firsthand, and said that the Patient First Ethic was real and alive, and in practice, and much more than words on a page."
Continually Striving for Excellence

Still, the hospital and nursing staff are not resting on their laurels. Now that Magnet® status has been achieved, Giggleman says there is still much to be done.

"For the sake of our patients, our nursing care at Washington Hospital has to continue to get better and better," she says. "What we have learned here is we have an obligation to share and build the body of research and best practices for the nursing community at large."

Learn More About Magnet Recognition

For more information about the ANCC's Magnet Recognition Program, visit www.nursecredentialing.org. To learn more about Washington Hospital, its awards and quality initiatives, visit www.whhs.com/about/awards.