Virtual survey amid COVID-19 pandemic marks Overlook nurses’ final stretch of decade-long journey to recognition

SUMMIT, NJ – Atlantic Health System’s Overlook Medical Center achieved Magnet designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), the highest national honor for nursing excellence, as a reflection of Overlook’s nursing professionalism, teamwork and superiority in patient care.

With this credential, Overlook joins the global community of Magnet-recognized organizations. It is now one of only 541 hospitals in the entire nation that have earned this recognition, representing less than nine percent of hospitals in the United States.

Sign Up for Berkeley Heights Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

“This truly culminated more than a decade of work to create a professionally stellar, compassionate and empowered nursing team,” said Alan Lieber, president of Overlook Medical Center. “Our nurses have demonstrated these qualities as we faced the biggest crisis in health care, and there was no doubt that our culture of excellence was on display during Magnet’s tour of Overlook. This recognition reflects our nurses’ commitment to providing exceptional care to our patients and the community.”

The Magnet designation marks another major national achievement for Overlook which also this year received for the first time the Healthgrades 2020 America’s 50 Best Hospitals Award™.

ANCC’s Magnet Recognition Program® distinguishes organizations that meet rigorous standards for nursing excellence. Magnet recognition is the gold standard for nursing excellence and is often a consideration among patients and the public when evaluating health care facilities. U.S. News & World Report’s annual showcase of “America’s Best Hospitals” includes Magnet recognition in its ranking criteria for quality of inpatient care.

The designation, which was announced to Overlook’s nursing team on Friday, October 9, by ANCC representatives, capped off a long and extraordinary journey for this prestigious recognition. Overlook’s survey was originally scheduled for earlier this year, when the COVID-19 pandemic began to arise in New Jersey.

Having surveyors onsite was not possible, so the ANCC began conducting virtual surveys at eligible facilities. They had only completed a handful of virtual surveys when Overlook’s turn came in August. Three Magnet surveyors rounded on each and every unit with a nursing presence, interacting with nurses by way of iPad carts. Overlook’s Magnet champion escorts and ISS team members “escorted” the surveyors to each unit.

Rather than pose additional challenges, the unprecedented event only served to further highlight how Overlook’s team comes together to provide excellent care.

“By the time our survey took place, the first five months of the pandemic had highlighted just how our nurses had integrated the Magnet qualities into the very fabric of Overlook’s culture - staff empowerment, shared decision making, autonomy, professional development, nurse recruitment/retention and a higher standard of practice,” said MaryPat Sullivan, chief nursing and experience officer at Overlook Medical Center.

“In truth, it was the perfect ending to our journey to Magnet – a time to show how nurses work together as a team and how all of Overlook supports and encourages stellar teamwork with nursing,” said Deb Toresco, RN, Overlook’s Magnet program manager, who led the efforts to achieve the designation.

Magnet surveyors noted during the site visit, that Overlook nurses spoke highly of the organization in terms of support for educational activities, professional certification, and time to participate in governance activities, and that the words "Family" and "Team" were often used by nurses.

Additionally, Overlook’s physicians described the organization as "nurse-centric" in driving quality initiatives and were instrumental in the success of the organization's highly-recognized stroke program.

“It is very evident that Overlook has made a huge effort and contribution to the community during the COVID-19 Pandemic,” ANCC surveyors noted in their report to Overlook.

The Magnet designation is granted every four years to only those organizations that demonstrate sustained superiority in nursing care. Applicants undergo an extensive evaluation and members granted Magnet status must continue to meet rigorous standards.

The Magnet model provides a framework for nursing practice, research, and measurement of outcomes. Through this framework, ANCC evaluates applicants across several components and dimensions to gauge an organization’s nursing excellence.

Research demonstrates that Magnet recognition provides specific benefits to health care organizations and their communities.

About Atlantic Health System

Atlantic Health System is at the forefront of medicine, setting standards for quality health care in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the New York metropolitan area. Powered by a workforce of more than 17,000 team members and 4,800 affiliated physicians dedicated to building healthier communities, Atlantic Health System serves more than half of the state of New Jersey including 11 counties and 4.9 million people. The system offers more than 400 sites of care, including seven hospitals: Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, NJ, Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ, Newton Medical Center in Newton NJ, Chilton Medical Center in Pompton Plains, NJ, Hackettstown Medical Center in Hackettstown, NJ, Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown, NJ, and Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute in Madison, NJ.

Atlantic Medical Group, comprised of 1,000 physicians and advanced practice providers, represents one of the largest multi-specialty practices in New Jersey and joins Atlantic Accountable Care Organization and Optimus Healthcare Partners as part of Atlantic Alliance, a Clinically Integrated Network of more than 2,500 health care providers throughout northern and central NJ.

Atlantic Health System provides care for the full continuum of health care needs through 16 urgent care centers, Atlantic Visiting Nurse and Atlantic Anywhere Virtual Visits. Facilitating the connection between these services on both land and air is the transportation fleet of Atlantic Mobile Health.

Atlantic Health System leads the Healthcare Transformation Consortium, a partnership of seven regional hospitals and health systems dedicated to improving access and affordability and is a founding member of the PIER Consortium – Partners in Innovation, Education, and Research – a streamlined clinical trial system that will expand access to groundbreaking research across seven health systems in New Jersey.

Atlantic Health System has a medical school affiliation with Thomas Jefferson University and is home to the regional campus of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Morristown and Overlook Medical Centers and is the official health care partner of the New York Jets.

About ANCC’s Magnet Recognition® Program

The Magnet Recognition Program — administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the largest and most prominent nurses credentialing organization in the world — identifies health care organizations that provide the very best in nursing care and professionalism in nursing practice.

The Magnet Recognition Program is the highest national honor for nursing excellence and provides consumers with the ultimate benchmark for measuring quality of care. For more information about the Magnet Recognition Program and current statistics, visit www.nursingworld.org/magnet.

About the American Nurses Credentialing Center 
American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), part of the ANA Enterprise leads the profession to shape the future of nursing and health care. ANCC's internationally renowned credentialing programs certify and recognize individual nurses in specialty practice areas. ANCC recognizes healthcare organizations that promote nursing excellence and quality patient outcomes while providing safe, positive work environments. In addition, ANCC accredits healthcare organizations that provide and approve continuing nursing education and accredits transition-to-practice programs that prepare nurses for new practice roles. For more information about ANCC, visit us at nursingworld.org/ancc and follow us on Twitter. ANCC is the only nurse credentialing organization to successfully achieve ISO 9001: 2015 certification. The ANA Enterprise is the family of organizations that is composed of the American Nurses Association (ANA), the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), and the American Nurses Foundation.