Children's Health

Hospital President Bob Connors, MD, Recognized by National Patient Safety Foundation for Leadership in Patient Safety

June 9, 2011

June 9, 2011

Bob Connors, MD, president, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and practicing pediatric surgeon, received the 2011 Chairman’s Medal from the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF).The award was given at the recent NPSF 2011 Patient Safety Congress in Washington, DC.

“The NPSF Chairman’s Medal recognizes emerging leadership in the patient safety field,” said Diane C. Pinakiewicz, MBA, NPSF president. “The recipients are chosen for their ability to inspire and lead the change necessary to successfully implement patient safety improvements while creating a culture of respect, openness, learning and a positive team dynamic. Bob Connors’ guidance at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital has done just that; he has fostered a climate of positive change for accelerating the delivery of safe patient care.”

Beginning with the stated goal of creating “the safest children’s hospital in America,” Connors spearheaded a patient safety program in 2007 that empowered staff by removing traditional hierarchies and barriers to communication. After completing an intensive training program in safety sciences and armed with error reduction tools and techniques to guide their practice, employees directly involved in patient care gained the authority to raise safety concerns with anyone at anytime.

Outcomes of the safety culture transformation include:

• Safety events were reduced 68 percent between 2008 and 2010
• Ventilator-associated pneumonias in the pediatric critical care unit have been eliminated for 19 consecutive months
• Hand hygiene improved from 56 percent to 96 percent for more than a year, helping to reduce hospital acquired infections by 50 percent
• Catheter-associated blood stream infections in the neonatal intensive care unit were reduced by almost 50 percent
• Asthma core measures at discharge achieved 100 percent compliance
• Spinal surgery infections were eliminated

Sustaining the safety transformation has become just as important as launching the initiative.

“Safety is now an integral part of our strategic planning and daily operations,” said Connors. “We have appointed an executive director of quality and safety, created unit based safety champions and forged partnerships with other leading children’s hospitals engaged in safety work best practices.”

As a result, the 2011 HealthCare Performance Improvement National Patient Summit will be held in the hospital’s backyard, in Grand Rapids.

“It’s clear from the numbers that Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is on the cutting edge of safety innovation,” said Pinakiewicz. “We applaud Dr. Connors on his extraordinary achievement.”

The National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) has been pursuing one mission since its founding in 1997 – to improve the safety of care provided to patients. As a central voice for patient safety, NPSF is committed to a collaborative, inclusive, multi-stakeholder approach in all that it does. NPSF is an independent, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. To learn more about the work of the National Patient Safety Foundation, please visit:

Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, a member of Spectrum Health, is a Grand Rapids-based hospital serving children throughout Michigan. A teaching hospital, it includes nearly 200 pediatric physicians with training in providing medical and surgical care to children in more than 40 pediatric specialties. A new 440,000 square foot hospital opened in January 2011 designed specifically with children and families in mind. Visit to learn more.