Delaware Quality Award winners announced

3:40 p.m., Jan. 18, 2008--The Delaware Alliance for Excellence--a partnership between the University of Delaware's Division of Professional and Continuing Studies and the Delaware Quality Award Initiative--has announced the recipients of the 2007 awards.

Bayhealth Medical Center's Inpatient Rehabilitation Center and United Electric Company Inc. have both received the W. L. Gore Award, and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), Division of Water Resources, environmental laboratory section, and the Delaware Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have been awarded the Delaware Quality Commitment Award.

Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner will present the awards on Thursday, Feb. 7, at the Delaware Quality Award banquet, held in conjunction with the Delaware Quest for Excellence forum.

The Delaware Quality Award was established in 1992 in honor of W. L. (Bill) Gore for the direction he gave his company, W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc., in promoting excellence, innovation and a positive working environment. In 2005, in order to expand training and consulting services, the initiative was expanded to form the Delaware Alliance for Excellence as a University of Delaware program. Its mission is to educate and support continuous improvement initiatives throughout the region and to recognize the achievement of performance excellence.

The award criteria are based on the world's best-performing organizations and are used to examine and provide feedback to organizations in the areas of leadership, strategic planning, customer and market focus, knowledge management, workforce engagement and process improvement. The criteria incorporate the integration and alignment of these areas to create positive results.

Bayhealth Medical Center's Inpatient Rehabilitation Center is part of southern Delaware's largest health-care system. Bayhealth is comprised of Kent General and Milford Memorial hospitals, Middletown Medical Center and numerous satellite facilities. The Inpatient Rehabilitation Center was opened by Milford Memorial Hospital in 1992. Last year, the Center earned the Delaware Quality Award of Merit.

“The internal analyses of our systems and processes compared to the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence, in addition to the external reviews by the Delaware Quality Award Board of Examiner teams, have been invaluable in helping us identify areas and processes which could be further improved to better ensure continued excellent clinical outcomes and patient experiences,” Dennis E. Klima, Bayhealth's president and CEO said. "We are truly honored to be recognized with the W. L. Gore Award."

HealthGrades 2008, the nation's leading independent health care rating company, recently ranked Bayhealth Medical Center Best in Delaware for cardiac surgery. Bayhealth also was recognized by J.D. Power and Associates for providing an "outstanding inpatient experience" and an "outstanding maternity experience.”

United Electric Supply Co., a four-time recipient of the W. L. Gore Award, is a wholesale distributor of electrical products serving customers in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Virginia. Since 1995, United has been 100 percent employee-owned.

According to Tom Cloud, chairman and CEO of United Electric, “United has used the Delaware Quality Award criteria as a target for feedback and improvement for the past 12 years. The application criteria provide an all encompassing framework to identify and address our challenges, to capitalize on our success factors and to evaluate our strategy to perpetuate our organization for future generations of United's employee-owners.”

DNREC's environmental laboratory section won the Delaware Quality Commitment Award. In 2000, the lab was facing unproductive attitudes and behaviors among its workforce. The organization dedicated itself to improving its customer-focus, employee motivation and involvement, and to achieving a positive working environment and higher levels of productivity.

By 2004, productivity was well above 80 percent from the 2000 baseline and employees were volunteering to work on projects, indicating that the workforce had transformed themselves and the organization. All members of the laboratory's workforce have become leaders and champions of change who focus on the quality of work, positive experiences for customers and citizens, operational and financial efficiencies, effectiveness and productivity.

“The people in our laboratory recognized that the key to organizational success, stability and growth is to focus on what is most important--the people within the organization,” said Sergio Huerta, laboratory director. “If the leadership is sensitive to this fact, the people will be happy and willing to take ownership of their work processes. This is what leads to our increased quality of work and increased productivity. The Delaware Quality Award process focuses on this type of approach; it has definitively helped us to move forward in achieving organizational success.”

OMB offers a broad scope of services that are vital to the effective and efficient operation of state government and the welfare of the citizens of Delaware. It was created through the initiative of Gov. Ruth Ann Minner and through the support of the Delaware General Assembly in July 2005. OMB, which centralizes the management of major state assets including people, facilities, land use and financial resources, chose to participate in the Delaware Quality Award using the Baldrige Express process to accelerate its improvement efforts, to gain feedback from quality experts and to develop an action plan for the future.

“The Baldrige Express process has helped OMB gain an outside perspective on what is working well and what we need to focus our efforts on moving forward,” said Jennifer Davis, OMB director. “As a relatively new organization, we have had the incredible opportunity to build our organization on the best concepts of quality. The Baldrige Express process has been an invaluable tool for OMB in our continuous improvement journey, and we are truly honored to be recipients of the Delaware Quality Commitment Award.”

The Delaware Alliance for Excellence is housed at UD's Downtown Center for Performance Excellence at 8th and King Streets in Wilmington. For more information, contact John Riabov at [] or (302) 571-5239, or visit [].