While it takes years of meticulous work, planning, and coordination, the highly sought American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet Recognition Program® designation culminates in one phone call.
At the Kaiser Permanente Vallejo Hospital, that call was picked up by Chief Nurse Executive Juanita Jularbal-Walton, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, on July 24. But she wasn’t alone.
The good news was scheduled by the ANCC that operates the recognition program with enough notice for Jularbal-Walton to pack the room with clinical staff, including front-line nurses.
The brief but powerful moment was punctuated by cheers. The new designation recognizes nursing clinical excellence and engagement outcomes, which leads to lower nurse attrition, and ultimately an improved care experience for patients.
Only around 10% of hospitals in the U.S. have attained the designation. Vallejo is the first Kaiser Permanente site in Northern California to achieve Magnet status, joining 6 in Southern California.
A pandemic, culture shift
To achieve the designation, Kaiser Permanente Vallejo satisfied a set of rigorous criteria created by the ANCC to measure nursing quality outcomes and engagement scores. In at least 5 of 8 quarters, the hospital outperformed the national benchmark.
Jularbal-Walton points to the hospital’s culture shift as the key to its Magnet success — which began in 2019 and continued during the pandemic.
“Notably, the Magnet work happened even while this facility was engaged in groundbreaking clinical initiatives prompted by the onset of the pandemic. The Vallejo Medical Center was one of the first in the United States to treat COVID-19 positive patients and place them on home isolation, after a quarantine at Travis Air Force Base, ” said Norair Jemjemian, senior vice president of Kaiser Permanente National Shared Services Operations who was Napa-Solano Area senior vice president for several years of the Magnet journey.
Only around 10% of hospitals in the U.S. have attained the designation. Vallejo is the first Kaiser Permanente site in Northern California to achieve Magnet status.
“We went from a professional governance committee with 8 front-line nurses to 200,” Jularbal-Walton said of the evolution. “A big part of my role as a transformational leader, beyond maintaining the quality and care experience, was to give the workflows and change management back to the front-line nurses. My mission matches that of our nurses: to serve our community.”
Evolving the role of nurses to meet the Magnet criteria included a focus on recognition, training, and professional development. During the 4 years of the Magnet journey, medical center nurses who advanced to bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees in nursing rose from 25% in 2019 to 81% in 2022.
A community effort
For the site visit, 3 ANCC surveyors not only interviewed arbitrarily chosen front-line nurses on all shifts, but also physicians, employees, and patients.
“By the time we got to the site visit, we had about 250 nurses and 100 physicians and leaders participating,” Jularbal-walton said. “I think that is when I realized how much engagement we had.”
The hospital’s culture shift is the key to its Magnet success — which began in 2019 and continued during the pandemic.
Community leaders and businesses owners also participated in the site visit, leaving the surveyors “amazed at the work Kaiser Permanente does in the community,” said Darryl Curry, the Napa-Solano Area senior vice president.
“Achieving Magnet status has empowered our nurses to take on more significant clinical nursing care teaching, mentorship, and leadership roles within our organization,” Jemjemian said. “It is an honor for them to be recognized for their long-standing commitment to their craft and patients.”
During the 4 years of Magnet preparation, medical center nurses who advanced to bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees in nursing rose from 25% in 2019 to 81% in 2022.
Curry added that beyond being impressed by those working at the hospital, the surveyors called out Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to the Napa and Solano counties it serves, including help with mental health and wellness, access to care, housing, and food insecurity.
“Magnet designation provides patients and their families with a benchmark by which to measure the quality of care they can expect to receive,” Curry said. “We have reached this moment through our long history of excellence within the medical center combined with our dedication and pride in serving the city of Vallejo.”