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Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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At Fauquier, the patient comes first

Linda Sharkey

I don’t think the folks at Fauquier Hospital would be upset if I described them as being obsessed with patient satisfaction. As Linda Sharkey, one of the vice presidents, said this week, “Patients are at the center of our universe.”

I visited with Sharkey and Julie Fainter, strategic services specialist, at the Warrenton hospital recently for a story that will probably appear in the paper this weekend. I wanted to find out why Fauquier trounces other area hospitals whenever Medicare publishes its quarterly HCAHPS scores. The scores are based on 10 questions that surveyors ask patients about their hospital experiences.

The newest HCAHPS were published last month. Once again, Fauquier scored above the state and national averages for 9 of the 10 questions. Mary Washington, Culpeper and Potomac hospitals scored below state and national averages on all or almost all of the questions.

So how do they do it? Fauquier does a lot of things differently, both big and small, but you can summarize their philosophy in three simple points:

1. They place the patient at the center of all they do.  “We are lucky patients come to us. It is not the other way around,” Sharkey said.

2. They treat the staff with respect, and they make sure they have the resources and education to do their jobs.

3. They care for the “entire” patient. This means that the person in Room 212, for example, is not “the gallbladder down the hall.”  It is Mrs. Jones who has a gallbladder problem but also has a spouse at home she’s worried about, Sharkey said. “We know that people get better faster if you look at their entirety,” she said.

(You can find the HCAHPS score for Fauquier and any other hospital at Medicare’s “Hospital Compare” Web site here.)

(Fred Rankin, president and CEO of Mary Washington Healthcare, has described Mary Washington’s HCAHPS scores as “mediocre.” In one of his blog entries, here, he talks about how the hospital is trying to improve the patient’s experience.)


  • mark s

    Unfortunately, Mary Wash is all about the system, not the patients or the providers that send them the patients. Patient satisfaction could improve if more personnel on the floors and fewer staff in hallways with clipboards.