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Hospital Backbone Organization for Communities of Excellence Program

February 25, 2019

McCook, Nebraska—When Community Hospital leaders made the decision to join the Communities of Excellence 2026 program in 2018, they were also making the decision to serve as a backbone organization for McCook.

Communities of Excellence 2026 is the “community side” of the Baldrige Performance Excellence program, a journey that Community Hospital has been on since 2009. The program was originally developed for businesses in the United States.

This framework, and the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, is available to apply for and follow for organizations in six different categories: manufacturing, service, small business, healthcare, education and nonprofit. Two former healthcare CEOs that led their organizations to win Baldrige awards came together in retirement to create COE2026 so that some day there could be a new category added: community.

The hospital’s role as a backbone organization for COE2026 is to gather community leaders, residents, and customers to analyze the community based on four pillars: family, health, education, and financial stability. This analysis will ideally lead to the development of necessary changes and programs to improve the community of McCook and help it thrive.

COE2026 was developed to “assist and support communities as they implement the Community Performance Excellence Framework to enable communities and their residents to achieve better health outcomes, higher education attainment, and economic vitality,” according to Live Well San Diego, a partner community of COE2026.

The founders of COE2026 saw a need for a community excellence program because they believed an excellent community could function similarly to an excellence business. COE2026 has begun the congressional steps to becoming a category for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, so a community that follows the framework may someday win the award.

“The framework used by COE2026, and now McCook, is a strategic plan to understanding the community of McCook now, where we as a community want to see ourselves in the future, and how we can get there,” said Tricia Wagner, core group member and Community Hospital employee.

Other members of the McCook COE2026 core group are Troy Bruntz, Karen Kliment Thompson, Brad Hays, all employees from Community Hospital; Andy Long, McCook Economic Development Corporation; and Ben Dutton, University of Nebraska Extension office, who have laid the foundation of the program. Soon the group will be inviting community residents to partake in focus group sessions. The core group has already presented two informational sessions with a small number of community leaders and plans to present more for anyone who is interested.

For more information on the Communities of Excellence 2026 program, please contact Tricia Wagner at (308) 344-8215 or Karen Kliment Thompson at (308) 344-8580.

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