Merit Health Wesley celebrates Gold Certification for Excellence


In all of Mississippi, there is only one healthcare organization that Planetree International has awarded with the Gold Certification for Exellence in Person-Centered Care.

That organization is Merit Health Wesley, which last week became one of only 26 organizations nationwide and one of 85 worldwide to receive the award. In honor of the certification – which recognizes the delivery of a patient experience that goes above and beyond the norm – officials held Thursday an Employee Celebration in the Glenn Smith Room of the hospital.

“Today is really a celebration to recognize all of the people that put a lot of time and energy into bringing this certification into fruition and changing the experience that we put forth to patients and families,” said Mike Neuendorf, chief executive officer of Merit Health Wesley.

Employees gathered in the Glenn Smith Room to learn more about examples of the 10 criteria for the certification:

·      Spirituality (chapel and prayer garden)

·      Healing environments (serenity room and massage therapy)

·      Access to food and nutrition (room services, exercise classes)

·      Complementary therapies (massage, coupling and needling)

·      Arts and entertainment (puzzles, adult coloring books, playing cards)

·      Family, friends and social support (Care partners for patients, patient pet visitation, patient preference boards)

·      Healthy communities (Patient and Family Partnership Council)

·      Access to information (connecting patients with their healthcare records upon registration)

·      Human touch (massage therapy)

·      Healing environments (employee serenity room and outdoor gardens)

More than 400 attendees at the celebration were treated to refreshments and were able to visit several booths, which offered things like a prayer cross, time with puppies and free T-shirts. The prayer cross, which is usually kept in the chapel, allows visitors to leave prayer requests for the hospital’s chaplain.

“We have a Christian mission at this hospital, which is loving God, serving others and excelling in healthcare,” said registered nurse Katherine Pittman, who serves as director of customer service at Merit Health Wesley. “So anyone – even people from the community – can put a prayer request up here, and the chaplain gets the prayer request and prays over them, and then we discard them confidentially.

“(It’s been received) very well. They know that they’ll be prayed for, so that’s a great thing.”

The Gold Certification for Excellence in Person-Centered Care prioritizes individualized patient preference with an emphasis on partnership, compassion, transparency, inclusion and quality. Neuendorf said the hospital already offered some of the criteria for the certification, and recently fine-tuned and added others to offer an even better experience.

“It’s big for us,” Neuendorf said. “I think the accomplishment is built upon a rich foundation and history here at this hospital.

“For quite some time, we’ve had a great track record of producing quality outcomes and a very safe experience, and had a lot of focus on the federal measurement for patient satisfaction and perception of care. A few years ago we met and talked about how we could take that to the next level, and so we sought out Planetree as a certifying, international accrediting body, and decided that was the route that we wanted to go.”

Neuendorf said he was pleased with the turnout for the Employee Celebration.

“I’m proud every day of the staff that works here,” he said. “Healthcare is not an easy industry to work in.

“As much as we try to improve upon and make the experience great, aside from the birth of a new baby and some other exciting things at a hospital, a lot of it is dealing with sickness and sadness, and trying to overcome chronic conditions and ailments that people present to the hospital with. And so celebrating the accomplishments of the staff every day is important to us. But this is quite of an accomplishment that kind of differentiates the service that we’re providing, and you can’t do it without all the staff members’ participation each and every day.”