Good patient stories bring high patient satisfaction scores, bragging rights

Published 8:00 pm Friday, July 31, 2015


By Ken Shull, CEO, St. Luke’s Hospital

It was Monday, July 5, the start of my family vacation planned as part of my recovery from knee surgery, when a visitor came in search of me to talk about his ED experience. I was nowhere to be found on St. Luke’s administrative hallway as my wife Heidi and I were having fun with the kids and grandkids higher in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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The visitor, I’m told, was adamant to speak with someone about his experience and the care he received in our Emergency Department the day before, the Fourth of July, when he was clearing some property in Saluda. Our hospital volunteer greeted the patient at the front lobby and directed him to Kathy Woodham, our marketing and public relations director.


While on his Independence Day vacation, it seems Mike Stritch experienced a bit more than fireworks displays but he sure felt the heat and a sharp sting unrelated to firecrackers. Something big and gray bit his ankle. A stinging bug? A snake? He didn’t know anything except the dizziness and shortness of breath that took him down.


Alone, he struggled to his truck and began to drive down the mountain in a near-state of panic. Once he even had to pull off the road for the dizziness to subside. Mr. Stritch knew he was going into anaphylactic shock and he knew St. Luke’s Hospital was just down the road. He’d seen the sign and the red letters that serve as a beacon for Emergency Services.


He made a bee-line to St. Luke’s Hospital’s ED where the Patient Access team observed his struggle as he staggered from the parking lot. Very quickly, they ran towards him and supported him to the ER. Once there, Mr. Stritch received immediate treatment which he firmly believes saved his life.


The next day, he was very much alive and very appreciative of the ED and Patient Access staff.  His compliments included the words “swift,” “attentive,” “attuned to the patient,” “high quality,” “they listened,” and my favorite, “exceptional staff.” Mr. Stritch was also impressed that they followed every regulation and protocol that can often add burden to the important work each does in emergency situations.


How would he have so much knowledge of patient safety, HIPAA, HCAHPS, life-safety issues, protocols, quality measures and hospital regs? Well, we learned that Mr. Stritch is a retired supervisor who focused on employee health and safety. And his wife, he told us, still works in administration at Roper Hospital in the Holy City of Charleston, S.C. It’s no wonder he has a pretty good knowledge of the challenges facing healthcare today.


I didn’t have the opportunity to meet Mr. Stritch, but I would have told him that I am well aware of Roper Hospital. It’s one of the 46 hospitals owned or affiliated with Carolinas HealthCare System (CHS) of Charlotte. Just as St. Luke’s is, Roper Hospital is working hard to provide an excellent patient experience, and quite often Roper is at the top of the CHS comparisons. Roper is the one we at St. Luke’s strive to surpass with each patient satisfaction survey. Using a nationwide standardized satisfaction survey known as HCAHPS, we can actually compare our scores with other facilities.


And I’m very proud to say that just this week, St. Luke’s Hospital’s Emergency Department and Patient Access teammates were recognized for reaching the highest scores in comparison to those 45 other hospitals affiliated with CHS. And, for at least the next three months, we have the banner to prove it—right there as you enter the Registration area! We are challenged to continue those high scores in order to keep the banner and bragging rights!


But there’s more! The Outpatient Surgery Department was also recognized by CHS for exceptional patient satisfaction and for the highest scores for the system! This group, too, will no doubt work hard to keep their congratulatory banner and again, bragging rights.


And just this week, we received notice that our patients think we provide five star service, according to the Center

for Medicare/Medicaid (CMS). That’s five stars, the highest rating, placing St. Luke’s Hospital in the top three
percent in North Carolina and the top 10 percent in the country! (


I could not be more proud of the service and exceptional care St. Luke’s provides. We have the scores to prove it. But we also hear the stories—like the one Mr. Stritch shared.


Thanks for your emails, calls and comments regarding my recent column. I’m happy to report that I am recovering nicely from knee replacement surgery. I look forward to hearing from you at or by calling 828-894-3311, ext. 3250 or ext. 4720.