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Atlantic General Hospital Pursues Magnet Designation

The Berlin, Md.-based hospital is currently two years into the project and working toward an October 2010 submission of their written document to the ANCC

Fewer than 300 hospitals world-wide are currently recognized as having Magnet Designation, the highest international recognition for nursing and clinical excellence, which is used as the ultimate benchmark to measure the quality of healthcare provided by an institution. And, only two hospitals within the state of Maryland are currently designated as Magnet facilities.

Atlantic General Hospital is working toward being the third.

Just over five percent of all healthcare organizations in the United States have been able to achieve Magnet recognition status. Of the hospitals listed on the U.S. News & World Report exclusive 2008 Honor Roll rankings, seven of the top ten were Magnet hospitals. Additionally in 2008, seven of the eleven healthcare organizations listed in Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” were Magnet-recognized facilities or had Magnet facilities in their system.

Atlantic General held a kick-off celebration in mid-November to mark the beginning of the compilation of a document detailing the policies and processes that support their ability to attract and retain highly qualified staff, and including indicators identifying excellence in their delivery of quality patient care. The final validation document will be submitted to the American Nurses Credentialing Center on October 1, 2010 for review by Magnet appraisers before an on-site visit is scheduled.

“The Magnet journey is not for the faint of heart,” said Jeanette Troyer, MSN, RN, Atlantic General Hospital’s Magnet Recognition Program Coordinator. “It is no longer good enough to provide quality patient care. Besides outperforming other hospitals nationally on quality indicators, goals of Magnet Designation now include taking our best practices and sharing them with others to help address issues in healthcare.”

The effort that goes into applying for Magnet status is well worth it – both for associates working at Magnet hospitals and for the communities and patients they serve.

Patients receiving care at Magnet facilities experience lower mortality rates; shorter lengths of stay; decreased risk of falls, medication errors, and complications; and higher satisfaction in overall care.

“While we are aware of deadlines associated with the Magnet Designation process, Magnet is not a destination – it is a continuous journey,” said hospital President and CEO Michael Franklin. “As Atlantic General Hospital has demonstrated over the past couple of years, it is our responsibility to our community to ensure access to the best care available. Achieving Magnet Designation means achieving our mission to our community.”

Magnet facilities consistently outperform their peers in recruiting and retaining highly qualified nursing and clinical staff, resulting in increased stability in patient care.

Nurses benefit from participation in leadership and organizational decision-making through shared governance, increased autonomy in clinical practice, adequate staffing, higher job satisfaction, and enhanced interdisciplinary relationships.

“The medical professional and nursing shortage will continue as the retirement of nurses increases during a period of population aging,” said Colleen Wareing, vice president of patient care services. “It makes sense to implement best practice to retain the highly qualified professionals currently providing outstanding care to our patients. Magnet facilities frequently have waiting lists of nurses wanting to practice in their facilities.”

Associates enjoy working in a positive, collaborative, and engaging environment where there exists a culture built on empowerment, pride, mentoring, respect, integrity, caring, and teamwork.

Although Atlantic General Hospital is looking forward to celebrating Magnet Designation in 2011, they realize that excellence requires continuously striving to outperform and will continue to share their best practices in patient care with others through community involvement, research, publications, and collaborative partnerships.

“Ultimately, this is a learning experience that allows for continual growth and improvement in patient care,” said Christy Bradford, RN. “That’s why we call it the Journey toward Magnet Excellence.”

For more information about the American Nurses Credentialing Center Magnet Recognition Program, go to