Providence St. Patrick Hospital has joined fewer than 400 other hospitals in achieving the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s highest standing as a Magnet Recognition Program.

In 2009, nurses began the process of reviewing programs and gathering two years’ worth of data for the application. Last January, an official application was submitted and a group of surveyors came to interview people and visit the hospital in August, said Joyce Dombrouski, chief acute services officer for the hospital.

The process truly began in 2007, though, when nurses began working under a shared governance structure, said Dombrouski, who also serves as western Montana region chief nursing officer for Providence Health and Services.

The decision to approve St. Pat’s Magnet accreditation was unanimous, she added. “I’m just really proud of that.”

St. Pat’s is only the second Montana hospital to receive the accreditation, which is the gold star standard of nursing, she said.

In addition to being a marker of excellence, the Magnet accreditation helps keep morale high and turnover low for the roughly 400 nurses who work at St. Patrick Hospital, Dombrouski said.

When the announcement was made late last week, a sense of pride permeated the room full of nurses, she said. “There were tears in the room, really I would say tears of personal satisfaction with gaining this certification.”

The formal recognition also assures patients that they will receive top-notch care, Dombrouski said, adding that Magnet hospitals routinely have patients with better outcomes and fewer complications.

Going through the application process alone improved outcomes for patients, she said.

For instance, the hospital used to have high numbers of patient fall incidents. By collecting data and analyzing it, nurses have been able to decrease that number to a 10-year low.

Nursing care already was good at St. Pat’s, she said. “But this has just allowed us to be even better.”

The hospital must continue striving for greater excellence, and must undergo a reaccreditation process every four years, Dombrouski said.

Earning the accreditation was a team effort, she said, adding that nurses don’t take care of patients in isolation. “It really is an award for the hospital.”

Reporter Alice Miller can be reached at 523-5251 or at alice.miller@missoulian.com.

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