MSHA receives Virginia’s highest honor for performance excellence


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – The U.S. Senate Productivity and Quality Award Program for Virginia (Virginia SPQA) announced this week that Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA) has achieved the commonwealth’s highest quality award for performance excellence.

MSHA was awarded the Medallion of Performance Excellence – an honor that has not been achieved by any organization since 2009.

“The Medallion of Excellence recognizes organizations that have achieved the highest level of quality and excellence,” said Robert Bowles, executive director of Virginia SPQA. “This award is not necessarily granted every year; organizations must demonstrate that they have achieved maturity in each area of evaluation.”

Virginia SPQA evaluates organizations using the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence. Eleven core values form the basis for the criteria:

  • Visionary leadership;
  • Customer-driven excellence;
  • Organizational and personal learning;
  • Agility;
  • Valuing workforce members and partners;
  • Focusing on the future;
  • Managing for innovation;
  • Management by fact;
  • Societal responsibility;
  • A focus on results and creating value; and
  • A systems perspective.

All of MSHA’s 13 hospitals – including those in Virginia and Tennessee – and several MSHA outpatient facilities received site visits from SPQA examiners for two days in April, during which multiple aspects of the facilities’ operations were scrutinized.

“We gave them information on our key processes, our strategic planning and our overall governance, but most of their time was spent talking to team members inside the facilities,” said Tamera Parsons, MSHA’s vice president of quality. “The intent was to validate the practices we had spelled out on paper and see if they were well deployed and modeled in our facilities.”

One practice that received a lot of attention from examiners was MSHA’s blueprint process, Parsons said. Each MSHA team member carries on his or her name badge a set of blueprint goals that are developed annually with the team member’s input, based on the department blueprints. Department blueprints are derived from MSHA’s system blueprint goals.

“The idea is that every team member throughout the system knows how his or her personal goals support the department, and how those department goals fit into the overall mission and strategy of the health system,” said Parsons. “The SPQA examiners spent a lot of time talking with randomly selected team members about their blueprint goals and how they fit into the larger picture.”

Personal blueprint goals are just one quality measure that MSHA has derived from its years-long study of the Baldrige quality model.

“Mountain States Health Alliance has demonstrated a high level of understanding in using the Baldrige criteria not only in creating processes, but also in getting good results from those processes,” said Bowles. “We congratulate MSHA on its achievement of Virginia’s highest quality award.”

MSHA has been involved in Tennessee’s quality awards program through theTennessee Center for Performance Excellence (TNCPE) for many years, and has twice achieved Tennessee’s highest honor, the TNCPE Excellence Award.

“This was our first application in Virginia, but it’s clearly not our first application,” said Parsons. “These state awards are important to us as milestones on our journey to becoming a world-class health care system. The closer you get to world class, the harder it is to see your progress, so an acknowledgement like this is a great shot in the arm to tell us we’re still on the right path.”

About Mountain States Health Alliance

Mountain States Health Alliance, a not-for-profit health care organization based in Johnson City, Tenn., operates a family of hospitals serving a 29-county, four-state region (Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, Southeastern Kentucky and Western North Carolina). MSHA offers a large tertiary hospital, several community hospitals, two critical access hospitals, rehabilitation, a children’s hospital, a behavioral health hospital, home care and hospice services as well as a comprehensive medical management corporation. Its 13,500 team members, associated physicians and volunteers are committed to its mission of bringing loving care to health care. For more information, visit

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