Cibola General Hospital Pushes Forward

Cibola General Hospital (CGH) located in Grants, NM, is a 25-bed, not-for-profit, Critical Access Hospital (CAH) providing acute care, obstetrics, ICU, emergency medicine, surgery, and related outpatient ancillary services to residents of Grants, NM and surrounding communities.

Matt Mendez and Lindsay Corcoran, consultants with Stroudwater Associates, worked with CGH in 2018-2019 through the Small Rural Hospital Transition (SRHT) project on a Financial Operational Assessment (FOA) project. RHI staff spoke with CGH leadership in February and July 2020 about their progress.

Though many hospitals and clinics have experienced paucity during these trying times in 2020, CGH has continued to push forward with implementing their project action plan.  

Q: What did you find to be successful regarding your project implementation?

During the national COVID-19 pandemic, CGH ultimately decided not to furlough or lay off their employees; instead they poured that energy into areas of implementation working towards their goals and what they could accomplish within their hospital as well as their community.

The COVID-19 pandemic created an immediate need for telehealth services to provide quality care to their community. This action item immediately moved to priority. With the help from their pediatrician, CGH created an important strategy around telehealth services. Together, their staff created their next steps to roll out these services as quickly as possible. The responsive and earnest involvement from their IT department allowed for CGH to continue to serve their community, while keeping safety at the forefront of their practices. CGH is implementing next steps to continue to grow their telehealth services. These steps include social services and emergency department telehealth. Running parallel to these identified services are other specialties, such as endocrinology, that the community has expressed as a need.

Along with offering telehealth services, CGH has been able to expand their pre-registration functionality at a rapid pace. This initiative was piloted at the end of March 2020, creating a roadmap on improvements needed to fully utilize this functionality within their hospital.

Through the past two years, CGH has focused on improving patient experience. CGH recognizes that all employees, including non-clinical staff, impact their patient’s satisfaction. With this in mind, CGH steered their efforts into establishing a hospital-wide patient experience goals through process improvement aiming at their service lines. This approach coupled with leveraging technology to send out patient satisfaction surveys as quickly as possible increased the response rate as well as their satisfaction scores. CGH was awarded an overall 4-star rating from CMS in 2020 and are working hard to achieve a 5-star rating.

Amidst the national pandemic CGH and their surrounding community members have rallied around their front-line workers as they strive to continue to provide optimal care to their community. CGH is working to “grow their own” staff and is focused on staff satisfaction and retention. They continue to use banners, chalk notes, and inspirational messages left on cars to show how much staff are appreciated. They are noticing an upturn in staff to staff appreciation as well. Next steps to impact staff satisfaction include creating career paths and they are beginning to look at ways to assess potential job candidates to decrease turnover, especially for those who leave in less than one year.

CGH continues with provider recruitment. This has led to more stability in staffing and increased consistency for staff and with whom they are working. More primary care is available and CGH is focusing to assist family practice providers to build busier practices.

Q: What are the outcomes from this project?

Through the year following CGH’s project, the hospital met two measurables outcomes by increasing their day’s cash on hand as well as improving their HCAHPS scores around discharge planning.

Additionally, CGH met multiple non-measurable outcomes, making great impact. Through the project, the importance of accountability increased within the management and executive team. Staff engagement with one another increased through the past year and the focus on employee engagement and retention became a focal point within CGH’s culture. Positivity and appreciation for one another boosted through engagement activities and small appreciation actions for each other. The work put into fostering employee engagement within the four walls of the hospital spilled over into their community. The community appreciation for the front-line workers was amplified through the nation-wide pandemic and recognized throughout the entire community including CGH as well as pharmacies, dentist office and other community partners.

“This project came at a very good time for us. We just finished our CHNA and we were looking forward to our next strategic plan. Lindsay came at the right time and by the end of the day, leaders were engaged and saying, ‘we can do this!’ (We) want to succeed and thrive and not just survive! (We are) trying to win and not just to not lose.”