Focus on Integrative Care Improves Outcomes and Market Share at Valley Hospital

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Investing in a hospital’s staff and resources can be a major driver in facilitating positive change. That’s why Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, New Jersey decided to train their nursing staff in using holistic integrative care – for themselves and with their patients.

For the staff, the program not only increased their knowledge of holistic practices, but reignited their passion for work. The decision to incorporate integrative, holistic care was clearly on target.

With an operating margin of 9.64%, nine times the average for New Jersey, the decision to incorporate holistic care and create an environment that optimizes healing was a no-brainer.  

Following the adaptation of holistic practices, staff and leadership alike saw a transformation to an Optimal Healing Environment (OHE). The focus on holistic integrative care and optimal healing not only drove home the hospital’s mission, but also contributed to a low nurse turnover rate and a healthy operating margin. And later, it opened opportunities for innovation, like the Center for Holistic Birth.


Following the adaptation of holistic nursing approaches, staff and patients alike felt the benefits, and that was evident in the numbers. In this case study, the often competing priorities of patient satisfaction and cost have converged.


“There is never a question about funding this program because our patient satisfaction scores have increased, all our other metrics have improved, and we are in the black where many other hospitals in the area are in the red. Our margin is close to double digits,” reported an administrator.


Before the Integrated Healing Arts Program (IHAP), which trains nurses in integrative healing practices, a staff member described the environment as “disheartened.”  The hospital needed to rejuvenate staff so that they could better serve their patients and focus on whole-person healing in addition to disease treatment. With a cost of $61,908 a year, leadership at Valley saw this as an opportunity for a return on investment in lowering staff turnover rates.


As part of the effort to add healing practices to standard care, the nursing staff learned holistic self-care practices and healing relationship skills as part of the healing arts training program.

The nurse turnover rate significantly decreased, and in 2014 was 7.86% for Valley Hospital, almost half the rate of other similar-sized hospitals in the northeast region. 

COST AVOIDANCE:  • $2,157,900 compared to hospitals in the northeast region. • $3,236,850 compared to national hospitals with 350-500 beds.

The cost avoidance adds up to more than $2 -3 million annually for Valley Hospital.

Staff describes Valley Hospital as a place where patients and providers feel cared for. “Valley’s home, my kids were born here, we all know each other, and all our kids know each other. This is where I was meant to be, I truly believe that,” says one provider.

Another nurse notes, “There is a huge difference between this hospital and where I worked before. I think it goes back to the culture…This is more nurse friendly, more education friendly, where [we’re] constantly trying to make things better for the patient, the family, and for ourselves. They do a lot of things to try to integrate healing for our own selves.”


Options for giving birth can be daunting. There are several factors to consider – environment, finding the right doctor and mapping out a birth plan. While many hospitals boast state-of-the-art technology and the top doctors, Valley Hospital has something that many don’t – a birthing center that centers on the mother’s preferences for their birth experience.

Pregnant women meet with holistic birth nurses to learn about birth options, express their hopes and expectations, engage in self-care activities and ultimately create a holistic birth plan. The plan is shared with obstetricians and labor and delivery staff, who are also educated in the holistic birth process.

In the first six months of 2014, 55 mothers selected Valley Hospital for their delivery because of the holistic birthing program (3.5% year over year growth).

When examining the outcomes for the Center for Holistic Birth it is apparent that a patient-centered environment can contribute to a less stressful birthing experience. The patients are having lower rates of caesarian sections, which decreases the risks of surgery for patients without increasing costs for the hospital. In fact, in 2014 cost avoidance totaled $65,250 due to fewer caesarian sections.


“We created the framework for Optimal Healing Environments (OHE’s) because we saw the need for holistic integrated care within the medical system. Valley Hospital has put that vision into practice and is enjoying the financial benefits of optimizing healing through OHE practices,” said Wayne B. Jonas, MD, President and CEO, Samueli Institute.

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This work is supported by the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command under Award No. W81XWH-08-1-0615. The views, opinions and/or findings contained in this report are those of the author(s) and should not be construed as an official Department of the Army position, policy or decision unless so designated by other documentation. In the conduct of research where humans are the subjects, the investigator(s) adhered to the policies regarding the protection of human subjects as prescribed by Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 45, Volume 1, Part 46; Title 32, Chapter 1, Part 219; and Title 21, Chapter 1, Part 50 (Protection of Human Subjects).