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October 15, 2019

Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center CEO Scott Isaacks Wins Drive to Zero Harm Leadership Award

The South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) is pleased to announce Scott R. Isaacks as the winner of our inaugural Drive to Zero Harm Leadership Award, a recognition given to the South Carolina healthcare leader who demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to creating a culture of high reliability to eliminate harm from all facets of care.

The Director and CEO of Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, Scott R. Isaacks, FACHE, serves more than 80,000 veterans along the South Carolina and Georgia coast. Since taking the helm in 2014, he has led a major culture shift to improve quality of care and patient safety even before the VA formally began its “Journey to High Reliability” – an effort for which he now serves on the national steering committee. Isaacks has followed the example of his medical center’s namesake, PFC Ralph H. Johnson, as he leads more than 3,000 employees with a focus on excellence, commitment to mission, sacrifice in service to others, and honor for our nation’s heroes every day.

In 2016, Mr. Isaacks’ vision led to a hospital-wide “Engage in Excellence” campaign that established employee engagement teams at all levels of the organization to collaborate on an array of improvement initiatives, including addressing the VHA’s SAIL performance metrics, employee and patient satisfaction numbers, and a host of patient safety improvements. Recognized as a “best practice” by VHA leadership, this initiative led Ralph H. Johnson VAMC to be named one of the top-performing hospitals in the U.S. among public and private sector hospital systems.

Some of the hospital’s successes include:

• Improving from a VA 3 star ranking in overall hospital performance/clinical outcomes to a 5 star (top 10%) ranking for 7 of 9 quarters since 2016, and currently holding a 5 star in quality for VA nursing home care
• Ranked as most efficient Level 1A complexity VA hospital in U.S. and the most efficient OR in all of VA
• 2018 Patient Safety Culture Survey equaled or exceeded VA average in all 15 dimensions
• Patient safety reporting increased by 100% (FY17 – FY18)
• Improved employee satisfaction meeting or exceeding VA Southeast region on 100% of 66 categories and meeting or exceeding VA average on 73% of 66 categories in the VA All Employee Survey
• 14 Zero Harm Awards awarded to Ralph H. Johnson VAMC to date
• Selected as a South Carolina Safe Care Hospital

In addition, Isaacks has led the hospital to embrace non-punitive root cause analyses for any patient safety concern or near miss. His efforts have helped empower staff members to raise concerns in a just culture environment so that the best care is delivered to every veteran.

Isaacks’ unique combination of visionary leadership and employee engagement has led the Ralph H. Johnson VAMC to become one of the highest quality hospitals in the U.S. More importantly, his leadership has created an environment of healing that respects the highly skilled professionals he has assembled and that honors the brave men and women who have sacrificed greatly in service to our country.