Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Day at the Waterpark: Laughter, Water Rides, Gifts and Gray Hair

On Friday, I took my family to an overnight waterpark. We have been planning our "Staycation" for several months and our kids were very excited for the getaway in our own town.

The role of CEO or any of our positions for that matter is never easy to leave behind at the hospital. There are constantly areas that we are trying to improve or others we want to continue doing well. After arriving at the waterpark, I remembered seeing Undercover Boss with the CEO from this waterpark. I was pleased to see that the check-in lines were pretty easy and we were able to get settled into our room and get our kids to the waterpark in short order. Once in the waterpark, I was having difficulty taking off my work hat and started to further assess the safety of the park The lifeguards all seemed to have a strong focus on safety. They were clearly fanatical in the walking patterns they took to watch over the water areas. I did note some areas of rust, leaking and touch-up needs. Many of these same issues exist in older facilities and I know it is a constant job taking care of these on a daily basis.

Their gift shop was a must stop shop for our kids. Of course, all the items were broken within the that standard? Drives me nuts but that seems to be the norm in these type of shops - I should not be the norm. I may have to send our Gift Shop Auxilians over there as they run the St. Joseph gift shop like a Fortune 500 company!

All in all, just like hospitals, it was all about ensuring safety first. Of course the waterpark focuses on our fun and overall experience. The experiences always seem to come down to those little moments where the team goes just a little "above and beyond." My kids loved the ride where one of the employees gave just a little stronger push than the others. Just like in hospitals, that special caring touch by our employees, physicians and volunteers is what always separates the good from the great experiences.

On the way out, we were getting changed in the locker when my son said he overheard someone saying mean things about me. He said there was a boy staring and his father said "stop staring at that you want your hair to turn gray look his!"

Oh well, you have to take the good with the bad sometimes. Happy Halloween everyone.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Dad, You NEVER Wash your Hands....

I stopped at the gas station the other day for gas and a "pit stop.". When I walked into the bathroom, I saw a father and his son who was around 5 years old. The father turned to the son and told him to wash his hands. The son then turned t the father and said, but Dad, you NEVER wash your hands after you go to he bathroom." The father, clearly embarrassed, looked over to me and then back at his son and said, "I always wash my hands." His son repeated "No you don't Dad. I never see you wash your hands." The father then made sure they both washed their hands as he said to his son, "let's hurry because others are waiting to wash their hands."

So many of us see this - when others are watching, the percentage of people washing their hands probably goes up. It should be 100% and in hospitals it should definitely be 100% given the probablity of spreading infections without washing. This is something we audit in the hospital.

I was browsing the website, It stated:

In the healthcare setting, handwashing is often cited as the primary weapon in the infection control arsenal. The purpose of handwashing in the healthcare setting is microbial reduction in an effort to decrease the risk of nosocomial infections.

Hand hygiene can also be a problem in busy health centers and clinics where patients are seen both in increasing numbers and treated in rapid succession.1 Prevention and control of infectious activities are designed to limit the spread of infection and provide a safe environment for all patients, regardless of the setting.2 In light of the emergence of antibiotic resistant organisms, effective infection control measures, such as handwashing, are essential to prevention.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year an alarming 2,400,000+ nosocomial infections occur in the US alone. They are estimated to cause directly 30,000 deaths and contribute to another 70,000 deaths each year. Nosocomial infections cost over $2,300 per incident and $4.5 billion annually in extended care and treatment.

This is not new news but it still is a major issue. If you are in our hospital or any healthcare organization, you have the right to ensure that those treating you are washing their hands before and after they enter your room. That could be with soap and water, the antibacterial foam soap or other similar products. If you do not see this take place, you could and should ask that provider if they washed their hands before entering the room.

Just like the boy and his father, sometimes people need that gentle or not so gentle reminder to do so.

Enjoy your weekend.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Healthy Challenge Anyone?

Registration for the Boston Marathon began this morning and closed in 8 hours (yes,I am racing it again).

Last year, it took 2 months (approximately 1,400 hours) for the same amount of registrars. Technology and peoples' comfort with technology increases daily. Many people were hoping to race this fall in order to qualify for Boston next year. Looks like the game changed.

As we head into the fall and winter season, I open up a Boston Marathon challenge to all...

We are 6 months until Patriots' Day on Monday April 18, 2011.

Time to do a 360• on yourself and go 360 miles in preparation for Boston. That's 15 miles per week for the next 6 months - run, walk, bike and swim. Any way you can get there, just keep moving! Of course, we'll have a 26.2 mile challenge the week of the race and a special recognition for all those who complete any marathon through April 18th.

Send me your weekly mileage and race success stories (e.g., 5k, 10k, 1/2 and full marathons, triathlons, etc.). I will post updates on my blog including all competitors (I will not publish your last name unless you approve). Plan on fun giveaways as you hit your goals of at least 60 miles per month.

Let the healthy training for life challenge begin...

I look forward to hearing from you.

Check out the New Website

Check out our updated website. In addition to our Carondelet Heart Institute advertising campaign launch, last week also marked the unveiling of phase one of the new Websites. Please take some time to review the sites. I think you’ll agree it is a vast improvement and visitors can find a physician, do health risk assessments, search our health library and learn about upcoming events, classes and support groups at our facilities.

However, it is a work in progress, so if you notice content needing updating or have information that should be added, please e-mail me with the information.

Again, this is just phase one and improvements will continue to be made. Please click on one of the links below to visit our new sites.

Let me know what you think.

Friday, October 15, 2010

ER In Your Shoes

Last week, I did another In Your Shoes. This time I worked in the Emergency Department (ED) with Kimberlee, my boss for the shift (that's us in the picture). She made sure I was oriented to the unit. Laurie, our unit educator put an exceptional orientation packet together for me. She showed me the ropes in the supply area so I could quickly find what was needed. I had a chance to transport and move patients. I had the opportunity to watch great care and a team effort by the entire ED team. As luck would have it, I was told, it was "not a typical day in the ED and it is usually much busier." I joked that it is never a typical day when I do In Your Shoes but they could count on a lot more action once I left the ED - that always seems to be the case. The Emergency Department accounts for approximately 50% of the patients who are admitted into our hospital so it is extremely important that we are able to get patients in and out in a timely manner so they could be discharged home or admitted to the most appropriate level of care. This is this the right thing from a clinical perspective and serves as a strong patient and family satisfier. The patient flow in our ED has been a major focus of our LEAN Six Sigma initiatives.

As usual, I had a great experience and recommended that others in the department try In Your Shoes in other areas to get a different perspective. It has helped me understand our current issues and opportunities and also allowed me to see where other staff could support different departments. In this case, I know I could help transport, get supplies, etc.

I spoke to some of our EMS folks and noticed that they had a new mechanism to reduce any potential injury for their team and their patients. There is a cable and hook that goes onto the back of the patient cart and pulls the patient up the ramp leading to the back of the ambulance - I was told it could pull up to 700lbs.

Having watched too many ED shoes over the years, I walked out to the Ambulance Bay hoping to see other colleagues either playing basketball or meeting their co-workers waiting for multiple ambulances to show - while a couple ambulances were present, we lacked the basketball court. Probably a good thing in this case!

Monday, October 11, 2010

AH Convocation

Every couple of years, Ascension Health has their convocation. This year the themes around Remember - Celebrate - Believe gave us the opportunity to explore the past 10 years since AH started. We also had a chance to hear many great ideas across the country where the various hospital ministries are improving the way they currently deliver care and the overall patient experience. We had a glimpse into some future ideas on delivering patient centered care outside the hospital settings. Certainly an effective forum to further relationships and leverage knowledge across the country.

Check out our banner above focused on Unwavering Advocacy for those we serve.

I look forward to hearing how your organizations share ideas in order to deliver a more effective product to those you serve.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Visionary Award Winner in September - 5 South

Congratulations to Jeff, Jenn and their 5 South tea, , our Visionary Award Winner for September. They realized substantial growth over last year and provided exceptional care to our patients.

Accidental Success Stories

This past weekend, my family was sitting at the dinner table. My daughter took out her gum and put it on a spoon so she could chew on it after dinner. Our kids enjoy gum and we limit to one pack per month so they maximize the lifetime of each piece to say the least. Anyway, I scooped the meal from the serving plate onto my dinner plate. After a few minutes, I went on and on about the great taste of the tofu and vegetables. Jenny, my wife, said it was similar to what she has done in the past. I then noticed a different texture and color and started to catch on to this new flavor. At the same time, my daughter said, "where's my gum". Yes, you guessed it, I accidentally mixed her chewed cinnamon gum with my tofu and vegetables. Tofu really does pick up the flavor of other foods!

As I get around the hospital, I love to see all the care takes place. We are constantly talking about new, different of just more effective ways of doing things. Several years ago, I was working at another hospital and our Nursing Director for the Short Stay Unit left with very little notice period. At the time, she spent a majority of her day staffing this area. I was very concerned as I had was not familiar with all the details on how she did staffing so I met with the staff to see how we could help each other to get through this transition while still meeting our goals. They asked if I could meet with them every other week to keep them posted on organizational updates, key focus areas, and overall goals. Then they took it from there. They staffed each shift within the resources they had, they ensured we were in compliance, they grew the service by fostering and developing key relationships and they made sure the care was superb. When the new Director started, the staff asked to keep doing these things so the new Director had an opportunity to focus on different priorities and our organization was able to perform even better than we had in the past.

Remember the Post-it® notes history (see Most people use them. Most people love them. But Post-it® Notes were not a planned product. No one got the idea and then stayed up nights to invent it. A man named Spencer Silver was working in the 3M research laboratories in 1970 trying to find a strong adhesive. Silver developed a new adhesive, but it was even weaker than what 3M already manufactured. It stuck to objects, but could easily be lifted off. It was super weak instead of super strong. No one knew what to do with the stuff, but Silver didn't discard it. Then one Sunday four years later, another 3M scientist named Arthur Fry was singing in the church's choir. He used markers to keep his place in the hymnal, but they kept falling out of the book. Remembering Silver's adhesive, Fry used some to coat his markers. With the weak adhesive, the markers stayed in place, yet lifted off without damaging the pages. 3M began distributing Post-it ® Notes nationwide in 1980 -- ten years after Silver developed the super weak adhesive.

Sometimes we find out better and different ways of doing things "by accident". I look forward to hearing about your accidental success stories.

Taking Back My Profession

Two weeks ago, I was in Nashville attending Healthcare Performance Improvement’s annual Safety Summit. Physician, Nursing and Administrative leaders from across the country attend. It provided such a great perspective on improving the safety of our nation’s healthcare organizations. Dr. Antonio S. from Milwaukee shared with me his story. He is a practicing surgeon with ‘no title’ as he put it. However, he had a passion for safety and these summits along with the network of people he meets revitalize him and keep his passion for safety alive. He indicated the difficulty in keeping that energy he goes back into the day to day grind. He spoke about his desire to "take back his medical profession and not lose sight of why he entered into the field."

With Healthcare Reform on many of our minds, I am trying to get a sense of what other health systems are doing as we explore our own strategies. One large health system indicated their focus on Reform with a few "simple" focus areas: Manage supplies and labor expenses, incorporate LEAN processes throughout their organization, grow key services and always, always provide exceptional care. Another reminder on why we all entered into the field.

Today, I was reading some information on and came across the following that made me think about the examples above:

In 1979, M*A*S*H star and actor, Alan Alda, provided the commencement address to Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons’ graduating class. He was the first non-physician to provide this address.

"It’s certainly true that I’m not a doctor. I have a long list of non-qualifications. In the first place I’m not a great fan of blood. I don’t mind people’s having it, I just don’t enjoy seeing them wear it. I have yet to see a real operation because the mere smell of a hospital reminds me of a previous appointment. And my knowledge of anatomy resides in the clear understanding that the hip bone is connected to the leg bone. I am not a doctor. But you have asked me, and all in all, I think you made a wonderful choice."

Freedom Award Nominee

Myself and Tom Krahenbuhl, Area Chair, Missouri Committee, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve

Last week SJMC received a plaque from the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and the Reserve. It recognized St. Joseph Medical Center as a 2010 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award nominee, in recognition of exemplary support of employees in the National Guard and Reserve.

Smokin' Elvises

Check out the Smokin' Elvises at the American Royal. We are all here in support giving "The Claw" at the Kansas City American Royal. That's our fearless Regional Director of Emergency Services, Andrew B. (dressed in white - the middle Elvis).

Thank you Smokin' have one mean pulled pork!