Beaufort Memorial Hospital has become the first medical facility in South Carolina to earn a national Pathway to Excellence designation for outstanding nursing care.
Only 69 hospitals in 17 states nationwide have received the designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
"It's a tremendous honor," said Karen Carroll, the hospital's chief nursing officer. "It means we've been recognized as an environment where nurses can flourish, and our patient care greatly benefits from that."
To apply for the designation, hospital staff prepared a thorough list of the various ways its nurses met or exceeded each of the 12 standards mandated by the nursing center.
"We're not talking about a few pieces of paper," said Trish Deems, the hospital's Pathway to Excellence coordinator. "This is something we've really been working on for a long time."
For a hospital to earn the distinction, it must demonstrate each of the nursing organization's standard in its practices, policies and culture. After its application is reviewed by the Pathway to Excellence Commission, nurses at the hospital verify the presence of these standards through participation in a confidential online survey. Of the 404 nurses eligible to take the survey, 81 percent participated, and over 90 percent of those registered positive feedback, Carroll said.
"It's not the award that makes us good," Carroll said, "but all the work we did to earn it. This just validates what we already knew."
Dr. Ellarene Sanders, chairman of the nursing organization's commission that selected Beaufort Memorial, said the entire hospital administration deserves credit for the award.
"This goes beyond nursing," Sanders said. "This is about a facility recruiting and retaining a talented workforce."
S.C. Hospitals Association president Thornton Kirby praised the hospital's efforts.
"People who work in South Carolina hospitals strive daily to create a positive work environment as they deliver safe, high quality care to their patients," Kirby wrote in a statement. "It is wonderful to see Beaufort Memorial's efforts and commitment honored with the prestigious Pathway to Excellence award."
Follow reporter Grant Martin at Twitter.com/LowCoBiz.