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Robert Connors of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Is Honored with the NPSF Chairman's Award

Friday, May 27, 2011   (0 Comments)
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BOSTON, MA (May 26, 2011) –  The National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) today awarded its 2011 Chairman’s Medal to Dr. Robert Connors, president of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, a member of Spectrum Health System in Grand Rapids, MI. The honor was bestowed during the NPSF 2011 Patient Safety Congress in Washington, DC.

“The NPSF Chairman’s Medal recognizes emerging leadership in the patient safety field,” said Diane C. Pinakiewicz, MBA, President of the National Patient Safety Foundation. “The recipients are chosen for their ability to inspire and lead the change necessary to successfully implement patient safety improvements while creating a culture of respect, openness, learning, and a positive team dynamic. Bob Connors’ guidance at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital has done just that; he has fostered a climate of positive change for accelerating the delivery of safe patient care.”

Beginning with the stated goal of creating “the safest children’s hospital in America,” Connors spearheaded a patient safety program in 2007 that empowered staff by removing traditional hierarchies and barriers to communication. After completing an intensive training program in safety sciences and armed with error reduction tools and techniques to guide their practice, employees directly involved in patient care gained the authority to raise safety concerns with anyone at anytime. Connors’ efforts at the hospital resulted in this program being picked up by the entire Spectrum Health System organization, which includes nine hospitals and 180 care sites.

Among the outcomes:

    • Between 2008 and 2010 safety events were reduced 68 percent.
    • Ventilator associated pneumonias in the Pediatric Critical Care Unit have been eliminated for 19 consecutive months.
    • Hand hygiene has improved from 56 percent to 96 percent for more than a year, helping to reduce hospital acquired infections by 50 percent.
    • Catheter associated blood stream infections in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit were reduced by almost 50 percent.
    • Asthma core measures at discharge achieved 100 percent compliance.
    • Spinal surgery infections were eliminated.

Sustaining the safety transformation has become just as important as launching the initiative. “Safety is now an integral part of our strategic planning and daily operations,” said Connors. “We have appointed an executive director of quality and safety, created unit based safety champions and forged partnerships with other leading children’s hospitals engaged in safety work best practices.”

As a result, the 2011 HealthCare Performance Improvement National Patient Summit will be held in the hospital’s backyard, in Grand Rapids.

“It’s clear from the numbers that Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is on the cutting edge of safety innovation,” said Pinakiewicz. “We applaud Dr. Connors on his extraordinary achievement.”

About Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, a member of Spectrum Health, is a Grand Rapids-based hospital serving children throughout Michigan. A teaching hospital, it includes nearly 200 pediatric physicians with training in providing medical and surgical care to children in more than 40 pediatric specialties. A new 440,000 square foot hospital opened in January 2011 designed specifically with children and families in mind. Visit to learn more.


About The National Patient Safety Foundation®
The National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) has been pursuing one mission since its founding in 1997 – to improve the safety of care provided to patients. As a central voice for patient safety, NPSF is committed to a collaborative, inclusive, multi-stakeholder approach in all that it does. NPSF is an independent, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. To learn more about the work of the National Patient Safety Foundation, please visit:


John Bianchi, Goodman Media
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Patricia McTiernan, NPSF
(617) 391-9922

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