Adirondack Health earns Pathway redesignation

By Brittany Proulx
September 30, 2022

Adirondack Health has earned its second four-year Pathway to Excellence® designation, which recognizes healthcare organizations that demonstrate a commitment to providing healthy workplaces for their staff.

Earning this designation requires years of hard work to prove that your organization meets the high standards of the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Chief nursing officer Dave Mader said that to obtain this accreditation, Adirondack Health had to evaluate and submit 53 elements of performance – with direct input from frontline nurses.

“They [ANCC] continue to add elements that they think a healthy workplace environment should focus on to attract employees,” Mader said. “Predominantly for nursing – but we’ve expanded it beyond nursing and patient care.”

New projects for 2022 included the addition of diversity, equity, and inclusion presentations, horizontal violence discussions, and several workplace wellness initiatives through the employee wellness council.

Shared governance – involving and encouraging our employees to participate in decision-making processes – is one of the driving forces behind Pathway. Mader said Adirondack Health’s six shared governance councils ensure frontline employees are helping to create positive change throughout the organization.

When shared governance was implemented in 2013 during our first Pathway application process, there were five councils – mostly made up of nurses. Currently, Adirondack Health is up to six councils, consisting of employees from across our many departments. Mader said, statistically, most shared governance structures fall apart after a few years, but Adirondack Health’s continues to flourish – even during the challenges of COVID-19.

“Not only did they survive the pandemic, but they expanded,” he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic dominated our 2022 Pathway application, with many projects focusing on our interdisciplinary collaboration and flexibility. For example, with our operating rooms temporarily shut down, nurses from the OR, ambulatory surgery, and medical/surgical units floated to Mercy Living Center and other departments – like the newly created COVID testing and immunization clinics and health screening stations -- which needed help.

“The logistics of creating a COVID clinic overnight, having to stop visitation at the hospital as well as the nursing home overnight, were all huge undertakings,” he said. “Our teams, largely under the leadership of Carrie Reardon, AVP of Patient Care Services, kept everything going despite all the added pressures of the pandemic. On Christmas Eve, we were vaccinating people. We were one of the last to receive vaccine in the state, and in January, we were fourth in the state for administering it the fastest, because we worked all through the holidays.”

One of the last major components of each application process is a nursing-wide survey. Accessibility topped the survey results, with an impressive 97 percent of Adirondack Health nurses saying CNO Dave Mader and nurse managers are open and available to them. Over 90 percent of nurses said Adirondack Health promotes:

  • A culture of person-and family-centered care
  • A culture of interprofessional decision making
  • A culture of professional development
  • A culture of staff recognition
  • Direct care nurses’ influence in decision making
  • Work schedules that promote the nurses’ wellbeing
  • Wellbeing of staff who experience an adverse work-related situation

These were just a few of the highest ratings among Adirondack Health nurses.

Mader said he is incredibly proud of the entire team that made this redesignation possible. Champions include Lisa Keegan (who led the project for years) and Joletta Yates (who took over for Lisa in 2022). Keegan was also recently named a Pathway commissioner, which is an incredible professional accomplishment.

“This is an over and above designation that makes a huge statement – this is a great place to work,” Mader said. “When we were awarded this designation in 2018, we were only the second hospital in the state to earn it.”

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