NELIGH, Neb. -- A rural hospital in northeast Nebraska was recognized nationally and statewide in November for its leadership and quality care.

Antelope Memorial Hospital received the 2023 Performance Leadership Award for excellence in Quality and Patient Perspective. This award honored top performers of rural hospitals nationwide who rank in the 75th percentile or above in quality, outcome, and patient perspective.

They were also recognized by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services as a 2023 Rural Provider Excellence in Quality award recipient. This award honors the top ten overall performance in quality among Nebraska's 63 critical access hospitals.

For members of the hospital, it was a great recognition. 

"A proud minute for us and our staff," said Merry Sprout, the director of nursing. "Our staff works hard, we've gone through a couple of tough years and they don't let things drop. It's a team effort it's not just one department." 

Those tough years include an issue many hospitals are currently facing: staffing shortages. For now, the hospital said they are getting by thanks to the dedication of their hard-working staff.

However, in the future, they are looking to take on more staff to grow their workforce. Savannah Henn, the director of quality and compliance at AMH said the awards show their dedication to their work.

"It just goes to show that our care is top notch and we're here to provide patient care that's the best across the state and the nation," Henn said.

While a rural hospital, CEO Diane Brugger said they try to provide just as much quality care to patients as a hospital in a city would. She hopes these awards break the stigma that rural hospitals can't do as much as others. 

"There's always that stigma that rural Nebraska is not as high-quality care as urban," Brugger said. "I think we've shown that you can live 100 miles away from Lincoln and Omaha and still provide excellent quality care."

Both awards are based on the Chartis Rural Hospital Performance INDEX, which is the industry's most comprehensive and objective assessment of rural hospitals.