ERH named top-100 rural hospital

Evanston Regional Hospital CEO Cheri Willard works in her office during a Herald interview after ERH was named one of the top-100 rural hospitals in the country. (HERALD PHOTO/Kayne Pyatt)

EVANSTON — Evanston Regional Hospital (ERH) has the honor of being named one of the 2020 Top 100 Rural and Community hospitals in the U.S. by the Chartis Center for Rural Health. This annual award honoring rural hospital performance is determined by the results of iVantage Health Analytics’ Hospital Strength Index.

“Two years ago we made the top 250, so we’ve worked hard to make improvements,” Evanston Regional Hospital CEO Cheri Willard told the Herald, “and this year we have been rewarded by being in the top 100. I think the excellent caliber of our physicians and the great staff we have has been some of our greatest improvements.”

The index is the industry’s most comprehensive and objective assessment of rural hospital performance, Willard said. Utilizing 50 independent indicators, the index assesses performance across eight pillars of performance that span market, value and finance-based categories. Hospitals recognized as a top-100 facility had one of the 100 highest overall scores among all rural and community hospitals nationally.

ERH is the only hospital recognized by the Chartis Center for Rural Health in southwest Wyoming. Other Wyoming hospitals recognized include Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie, Sagewest Health Care in Riverton, Sheridan Memorial Hospital in Sheridan, and St. Johns Medical Center in Jackson.

Willard said ERH has been the recipient of several other awards in the past few years: the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ranked ERH as a 4-Star hospital; ERH is the first hospital in Wyoming to earn chest pain accreditation by the American College of Cardiology and was awarded the Top Performer Award by the Joint Commission; and ERH received national recognition in 2017, 2018 and 2019 for Performance Leadership in Quality among the nation’s rural hospitals.

Willard said they pride themselves on being a physician-led organization, as the physicians are present for all evaluations and meetings and are involved in the decision making for the organization. She said all 20 physicians live in and are involved in the community. Counting the visiting physicians, ERH has a total of 45 physicians, 85 registered nurses and eight nurse practitioners, with a total of 220 employees at the 42-bed facility.

ERH has been affiliated with the University of Utah hospital for two years. They have instant collaboration with U of U specialists through TeleStroke and TeleCritical Care communication technology. The U of U provides education and training both locally, at their facility and through webinars.

“In case COVID-19 spreads to our area, we have emergency preparedness in place and are equipped to take care of patients, [we] have protective equipment and are trained to deal with an emergency,” Willard said. “We have a transport plan with the U of U. Our best advice is if you are sick, stay home and wash hands and don’t touch your face.”

Willard served as interim CEO from November 2018 until June 2019, when she was hired as permanent CEO. Willard has worked for a total of 20 years at ERH and said she has spent her entire career with the hospital. She has master’s degrees in both nursing and business.

“If you haven’t tried out your local hospital, give us a try,” Willard said. “We are not the same hospital we were 20 years ago. We will continue to further expand our partnership with U of U, keep our equipment updated, provide great customer service and add new testing equipment in pediatrics. Our purpose is to put community first.”

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