Fels Named as Examiner for National Quality Award

September 13, 2016

BENNINGTON, VT—September 13, 2016—Jennifer Fels, RN, MSN, Southwestern Vermont Medical Center’s director of utilization management and clinical documentation improvement and the director of Bennington Blueprint for United Health Alliance, has been named to the Board of Examiners for the 2016 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award by the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The Baldrige Award is the nation’s highest honor for organizational innovation and performance excellence.

Appointed by the NIST director, examiners are responsible for reviewing and evaluating applications submitted for the Baldrige Award. The examiner board is composed of more than 350 leading experts competitively selected from industry, professional, trade, education, health care, and nonprofit (including government) organizations from across the United States.

Those selected meet the highest standards of qualification and peer recognition, demonstrating competencies related to customer focus, communication, ethics, action orientation, team building and analytical skills. All members of the board must take part in a nationally ranked leadership development course based on the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence and the scoring/evaluation processes for the Baldrige Award.

In her work for the Vermont Blueprint for Health, Fels is the co-chair of OneCareVermont and the Blueprint Bennington leadership team and the leader of the Bennington Accountable Community for Health, an initiative to address population health. She is responsible for the design and development of new clinical systems across multiple practice settings, including the physician office practices. Fels received her associate’s in applied science from Trocaire College School of Nursing in Buffalo, NY, and both her bachelor’s in nursing and a master’s in nursing administration from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She is a Six Sigma Green Belt.

Named after Malcolm Baldrige, the 26th Secretary of Commerce, the Baldrige Award was established by Congress in 1987. Awards may be given annually to organizations in each of six categories: manufacturing, service, small business, education, health care and nonprofit. The Award promotes innovation and excellence in organizational performance, recognizes the achievements and results of U.S. organizations, and publicizes successful performance strategies. Since the first group was recognized in 1988, 109 awards have been presented. For information on the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program and the Baldrige Award application process, visit nist.gov/baldrige.


Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC) is a comprehensive, preeminent health care system providing exceptional, convenient, and affordable care to the communities of Bennington and Windham Counties of Vermont, eastern Rensselaer and Washington Counties of New York, and northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts. SVHC’s providers are members of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Putnam Physicians, a multispecialty medical group operated in partnership with Dartmouth-Hitchcock. SVHC includes the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, a 150-bed long- and short-term care skilled nursing facility; the SVHC Foundation; and Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC), which includes 19 primary and specialty care practices. Primary care offices are located in Bennington, Manchester, Pownal, and Wilmington. To learn more, visit svhealthcare.org.