Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital at Hamilton (N.J.) is the healthcare recipient of the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for 2004. Among other successes, the 204-bed hospital achieved 90% patient satisfaction in its emergency room in 2004. In 1998 the hospital was one of the first in the country to implement a "15/30" program, promising all ER patients that they would see a nurse within 15 minutes of arrival and a physician within 30 minutes. Judges also highlighted the hospital's patient-focused model of care; its expectation that employees provide patients with "excellence through service" and uphold five-star service standards; and its commitment to improving community health. The hospital provides free health screenings to an average of more than 900 community residents each month. Its charity care has risen to about $23 million in 2003 from about $5 million in 1999.
The Robert Wood Johnson hospital is the fourth healthcare provider to win the Baldrige award, the nation's only presidential award for quality and organizational performance, since a healthcare category was added in 1999. Congress established the award in 1987 to enhance competitiveness of U.S. businesses. Read more about the program and this year's winners. -- by Cinda Becker