Monday, July 11, 2011

We're Moving...

As many of you know I have accepted a new position bringing my family closer to our extended family. Certainly, change can be exciting and bittersweet. I am joining an exceptional healthcare system. I will also miss my colleagues, friends and the communities we serve in Kansas City.

Yes, we are moving. And with moves, comes life out of boxes for a while. It seems fitting to take this moving time, and move my Blog to a new address as well.

Let me know what you think. Talk to you soon.

New Blog Location: THE Healthcare Experience.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lessons on What Can be Flushed...

Never a dull moment in healthcare. This note just received (no, I was not the one who flushed these cloths)...



Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Until Next Time

The past three plus years have flown by for me and my family. I have really enjoyed serving St. Joseph Medical Center and Carondelet Health. Last week, Bob Bub, our Pharmacy Manager asked what I was most proud of since my arrival. There are many things we are doing really well so it was difficult to just pick one. What stood out was our safety journey. When I arrived in May 2008, we provided great care and we provided safe care. We did not have enough people in every area talking about safety and how we can continue to make our care even safer and better. We started safety huddles, put more focus on safety in our clinical meetings, discussed at staff meetings, increased rounding, enhanced the RCA (root cause analysis) review and the list goes on.

Today, everywhere you go in the hospital, you can speak to your colleagues - associates, volunteers and physicians and they will let you know how they help contribute to safer care for our patients.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Chief Executive. Over the past few years, you have made a tremendous impact on my life. Please stay in touch. Jane Hoyland will have my updated contact information. Jane shared this reflection with me and I read it at our last St. Joseph Medical Center Board meeting:

Some people come into our lives and quickly go.
Some people move our souls to dance.
They awaken us to the understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom.
Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. They stay in our lives for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.

It's a small world out there and even smaller in healthcare. Our future is about collaboration as we improve the health of our patients and communities. I look forward to meeting up with you again. Until next time.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fun at Work...

I've heard the comments..."there should be no fun in the workplace" and "they call it job for a reason." However, since many of us spend 30%+ of our time at work and another 20-30% of our time sleeping, it is good to find those fun times at work...What's going on in your workplace to make it more enjoyable for you and your colleagues?

I was speaking to Mohsin Soliman, one of our General Surgeons and we started to discuss the excitement and challenges in healthcare. He enjoys surgery, good dialogue, his colleagues and having fun while at work. He let me know he would not want to work in a place that was not enjoyable day in and day out. That would be a "dreaded place to be." This doesn't mean goofing off all day long. It does mean enjoying the time you spend in the workplace and helping to make it enjoyable for you and others.

Forbes had an article reflecting on the benefits of fun in the workplace.

I also enjoyed these 8 tips from Tres Coaching:

1. Put fun first on your list of priorities, and the rest will fall into place.
2. Laugh more. Laughter can be a great medicine for what ails you and your workplace.
3. Be spontaneous with recognition, praise and a simple “thank you”.
4. Schedule fun-based activities with employees, customers and suppliers.
5. Find your inner child. Let others see the humorous side of your personality.
6. Live with the 3E’s – Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy.
7. Take mental health breaks and/or extended lunches to refresh and re-energize.
8. Keep things in perspective. Your work is a means to an end, not the end!

Regardless of where you are in your career, if you’re not having fun – what’s the point? Life is too short to not enjoy what you are doing, so find a way to put fun back into your work or do something else. The continuing negative trends in business as a result of downsizing, restructuring and the financial markets meltdown have taken a huge toll on the workplace, and the workforce tasked with doing more with less. We need to find ways to reduce stress, improve productivity, and keep our morale and energy levels up.

There are unlimited challenges and exciting times ahead in healthcare. Why not make the best of it and ensure we have some fun while constantly improving the healthcare experience.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Thank you Auxiliary Board Officers and Committee Chairs

It's always a celebration with our wonderful Auxiliary. Today, we enjoyed the installation of our new Auxiliary President and Board.

Chef - you and your team put a great lunch spread together..."light lunch" it was not!

Thank you to Jeri Grimes, Director and Mary Ann Nagy, Past-President, for your remarkable leadership. I appreciate the work of you and your 2010-2011 Committee Chairs and Executive Officers. Your work made such a difference at St. Joseph Medical Center.

And welcome Shari Boles as our new President. I know you will continue to strengthen our efforts.

Please welcome our new 2011-2012 Committee Chairs:

- Telephone: Etta Hedrick
- Information Desk: Bruce Border
- Hospitality: Janet Morris
- Standing Committee Chairpersons:
- Program: Susan Ruiz
- Publicity: Mary Jameson
- Scholarship & Certification: Becky Hook
- Sewing: Mary Ann Olson
- Spiritual: Gerry Duncan

Executive Officers:

- Treasurer: Lisa Smith
- Corresponding Secretary: Judy Hansen
- Recording Secretary/Historian: Fran Graves
- 3rd Vice President - Strategic Planning: Kaye Martin
- 2nd Vice President - Dues and Membership: Dale Wolf
- 1st Vice President - Ways and Means: Joan Cody
- Past President: Mary Nagy
- President-Elect: Patricia Seiter
- President: Shari Boles

Thursday, June 23, 2011

You Say You Want a Revolution...

The other day we discussed "Change" during one of our leadership meetings. The more I thought about it, we all know change happens all the time. We may not like some of the change but most of us understand it is inevitable (Although I must say I still miss those aluminum foil wrapped Ho-Hos from the 70s). We just need to be clear why we want to change and how we will go about the change to ensure we stay successful in our care delivery and the overall healthcare experience.

Remember the Beatles song, Revolution....
You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world

At times it may seem like healthcare is a revolution (a sudden, radical or complete change). Really over the years, it seems more of an evolution with a need to infuse revolution with inclusion (e.g., Lean Six Sigma). Looking at it from this stand-point as opposed to just "change" seems more inviting for all of us to participate. It gives us a chance to take note of where we are, what we could be and how we will get there together.

It's not easy but there are things I don't miss that we could not be without years guessed it, Interoffice Envelopes. I don't miss them one bit. Sure, my email inbox is more full and people expect quicker response times than the week we were given with interoffice envelopes. However, our world, as complicated as it may be is more responsive since the decline of the interoffice envelope! Clearly I share this tongue in cheek - healthcare will continue to evolve and form partnerships we did not know could ever exist. Do you remember when Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg formed Dreamworks SKG in 1994. That seemed to work out pretty well don't you think. Individually, they were very successful...together they changed their industry beyond what each could do individually. A true "evolution and revolution" in film animation followed.

Think about the amazing impact healthcare providers and suppliers will have on the healthcare experience as they come together over the next 5-10 years. Creating healthier communities by bringing together wellness experts, physicians, nurses, hospital providers, post acute providers, rehabilitation, educators, suppliers, process improvement experts, community members...and other fields we didn't even know would start to impact the healthcare experience. Now, that's an evolution we should all look forward to impacting.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Do You See What I See?

This morning, I toured our facilities with Larry Rubin (Facilities Management), NuNu Girma (Environmental Services-EVS) and Andrew Stonestreet (EVS). They provided the tour through their eyes. It was great getting their perspective. As Andrew said, it all starts with the first impression through our "Front Doors"...and there are many:

- Our Emergency Department where 50% of our inpatients first arrive;

- The "main entrance" where we welcome the majority of outpatients, visitors and families;

- Our Heart Institute and Womens' Health Center entrance;

- The associate, volunteer and physician parking entrances that help start our day;

- The Community Center utilized by thousands every year;

- Our loading docks and entrances for our many suppliers and vendors....the list goes on.

That first impression is so key and such an instrumental part of our welcome and the pride we have in our organization. We then traveled to other parts of the hospital...the Emergency Department, outpatient areas, inpatient rooms and high traffic hallways.

We all play an important role in keeping our organization a welcoming environment for the thousands we serve in our communities.

Thank you Andrew, Larry and NuNu for sharing the organization through "your eyes."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lead, Follow and Help Whenever Necessary

Take a look at Dr. Don Clement's upcoming newsletter article. Dr. Clement serves as the President of our Medical Staff and a truly exceptional leader..

Summertime and the Fourth of July, outdoor BBQs, walking through the neighborhood, soaking up the sunshine. As we look forward to celebrating the anniversary of the founding of this great country on the Fourth, perhaps we should spend some time looking back and consider the one ingredient necessary for this monumental historical accomplishment. Recognizing the importance of fundamental leadership and its principles will help us appreciate how we can employ those same principles every day.

The decision to establish the independence of those thirteen disparate colonies and embark on the creation of this nascent country rested on the leadership of many different individuals. Throughout the countryside and in the many small communities the ability to impart the sense of vision and implement this move towards independence required a concerted effort with leadership at all levels. While that trait was integral to our nation’s foundation it is directly translatable to all of us throughout the workplace, particularly in our Medical Center.

What makes a good leader and who should assume that role? The answers are that everyone has some capability for leading and should want to play a part. Do what’s right, even when there’s pressure to “cut the corners”. Be willing to accept responsibility, share the workload, help others, and set the example for others by how you conduct yourself in your job. It isn’t something that is only limited to those in positions of decision making. Every one of us makes decisions each day on how best to do our assigned tasks. More importantly we must decide that we are willing to share in our concerted effort towards providing the best in health care.

The development of leaders and those necessary skills takes place every day. Physicians and senior executives whether they want to accept this mantle or not, must recognize the need to exhibit leadership traits in their practice and encourage a culture that promotes leadership at all levels. But it extends far beyond those positions. Whether you are a nurse on the floor, working in the lab, transporting patients, cleaning the rooms, balancing the budget, fixing computers, making schedules, teaching students it doesn’t matter. Those in positions of authority at whatever level (who may at times not always set the good leadership example) must be willing to project solid leadership values.

As a retired military officer I recall that I was taught to “Lead, Follow or Get out of the way”. I think we could expand this a bit by advocating that all of us should be willing to “Lead whenever necessary, Follow when appropriate and Help create an environment where there is the expectation of good leadership”.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Today is Going to Be the Best Day Ever

Last night, I said goodnight to my kids. Skyler had many camp stories. Sydney told me today was "the best day ever" and shared that her camp team won the "spirit stick." Zach was deep into a book and said, "I'm almost done...just a few pages." It was so great to see their excitement. Zach let me know that he loved finishing a book and looked forward to starting the next in the series by Rick Riordon. He told me he is done for the night but can't wait to start his next book. Isn't that part of our journey in healthcare? That constant excitement for what's next...what we could be.

He also pulled a few of the books off his shelf and asked me to start reading them...I let him know that I was not quite ready for them yet!

That spark, that enthusiasm is so contagious. That's part of our world in healthcare, the "contagious" compassion, sincerity and excitement we show in our work with each and every person we serve.

This morning Jenny asked Sydney, are you looking forward to another day at camp. Of course Sydney replied with all sincerity..."today is going to be the best day ever."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Life is Good

Healthcare delivery changes at a rapid pace. Is this positive or doom and gloom?

Over the past couple of days, I've had discussions with colleagues about several tragedies.

Some of their stories included:

- My home was majorly damaged with the recent hail insurance will cover the majority of the cost.

- Home prices have dropped all around the may be a good time to buy.

- My trip to Japan was canceled...right after their tsunami - glad my life was spared.

- I lost my brother to a fluke accident...the tragedy has pulled our family together.

- My mom had a stroke last week...she still has her speech.

There was a "silver lining" in everyone's story. Sure they all wished the event did not take place however they shared the positive side given the reality of the situation.

Healthcare is changing at a rapid pace...what a great time to make it work together - we can't do this alone.

Cheryl Sadro, one of my colleagues, said, "I marvel at the opportunities we is good!"

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. Last week, Dennis Thompson, from our Spiritual Care Department organized a service in honor of our Veterans. It was really incredible to see how many of our associates and volunteers served our nation - most were dressed in uniform excluding a few who thought their uniform may not fit anymore! Thank you to Jane Hoyland and Jeri Grimes for getting the word out - we had great attendance and everyone was very appreciative of the event.

Happy Memorial Day and thanks to all those who serve and served our country. We remember those who have died for our country.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

What an Amazing Picture

Yes, this is a real photo of the funnel clouds forming over Kansas City yesterday. Past to me by Jenn Leonard. I was told it was taken from atop the Bishop-McCann building.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

There is a Funnel Cloud Directly over State Line and 435

A note I shared with our team today...

St.Joseph Medical Center, right off 435 and State Line Road...that's where we work.

Well, today we knew fully well what we were up against with the Joplin devastation just a few days ago. We tuned to our TV to hear the reporter say: "There is a dark funnel cloud directly over State Line and 435 Highway"...directly over us.

I am so proud of the team effort we showed.. Our patients were safe and families and visitors felt the same. We had several people pull off the road and come to St. Joseph for safety. They were so appreciative of the welcome they received.

Here are a couple comments I received:
From Kathleen Henderson: I just got a hold of my sister, who lives in south Overland Park – all is fine. But she wanted to tell me that when she was watching the news when a reporter in Louisburg, KS made this comment: “On a personal note, my relative was at St. Joseph Medical Center when all this was happening. Those folks at St. Joe did a great job of getting all the patients and visitors to a safe place”

From Lindsay Alexander: I was with Nan going from unit to unit to see what we could help with…all units were fabulous. They all had the patients already in the halls. You could over hear them interacting with the patients, they all did so in a calm and courteous way. They were asking all patients what they needed and providing extra blankets to everyone. Respiratory was spot on too. Facilities was out rounding to ensure curtains were shut etc. Just wanted to let you know that I was proud to see that kind of care and team work.

Our daily work is challenging enough without the mix of a natural disaster. Thank you all for your support, compassion and tremendous teamwork this afternoon. We are a true reflection of our mission.

Pride in Our Work

Don't you enjoy hearing why people chose their profession?

Ann Ventrillo RN, our Clinical Quality Specialist with Carondelet Home Care Services shared her story with me...

I also started my health care career as a "candy-striper" but in a home for seniors.
Instant love and wanted to "Save the World" (the 60’s)….went on to Nursing at Avila College where I first met the "sisters"….I had wonderful teachers many of whom are still involved with SJMC today! Sister Rosemary Flanigan, Sister Patricia Lorenz and many others.
I did many of my clinicals at the old St Joseph Hospital on Linwood.

I worked at Catholic Charities Home Health which then became Carondelet Home Care 25 years ago….My passion for home care began in the 1970’s and I was with St Joseph Hosp / Carondelet Home Care until we moved to Memphis, TN in the late 90’s.

I was absolutely thrilled when the administrator of Carondelet Home Care called me last October and asked me to come back.

I told her then, that there is no one else in town that could have called and offered me anything to change companies…..

St Joseph is where my heart has always been. Carondelet Home Care is my passion….It is my privilege to serve. I am blessed.

What's your story?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Healthcare Providers Bearing

I received a note today describing a conversation that Stephanie Dembicki, our OR Specialty Team Lead, had with her 30 year old son. They discussed the challenges in today's healthcare environment and reflected on conversations they had in their past. Her son gave this some thought and reflected on the term "bearing":

This is what he wrote to his mom:

"Bearing" simply means behaving with decorum and discipline. Additionally, one demonstrates bearing through being composed, tactful, polite, neat in appearance, and carrying out the highest level of professionalism. A person with great bearing is someone who can handle himself or herself calmly while being under extreme pressure. In boot camp, soldiers are taught never to lose their bearing. Rolling one’s eyes or complaining is an example of someone losing their bearing. Bearing is just as important in healthcare as in the military, and for the same reasons – people’s lives are at stake. Bearing is also defined by having the integrity to do the morally right action even when no one is watching, and the integrity that one takes upon oneself in order to responsibly carry out the task at hand. Every action one takes in this job directly or indirectly affects this organization’s ability to accomplish the mission. It is important to remember that we are in the business of saving people’s lives.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tornado Hits Joplin

By now most of you have heard about the devastating tornado in Joplin, Missouri. The warnings were coming and it certainly makes you stop and think...are we prepared?

In our hospitals, we go through several emergency preparation drills each years and certainly some real emergencies as well. It seems that you can't practice enough and you wrestle with the balance of the need to practice more and the time needed to practice. I have seen pictures on the Internet and through those sent by people I know down in Joplin. We have two nurse leaders assisting in Joplin, Collette Culver and Barb Swords. There has been a tremendous amount of devastation to the community and St. John's Regional Medical Center.

Times like this make us look at our own systems to determine how are training would have prepared us if this devastation touched home. We will have internal debriefings and additional drills to further prepare our team and community.

Our thoughts are with the medical center's CEO, Gary Pulsipher, their staff and the entire Joplin community.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Celebrating 475 Years

Today is our Associate Recognition Luncheon. We are celebrating 40 associates and 475 years of service. Congratulations everyone.

Years / Associate
5 Tamara Foster
5 Robyn Freiden
5 Fizeta Halili
5 Cynthia Creek
5 Jill Morsbach
5 Thomas Upton
5 Diane Moser
5 Danielle Iselin
5 Sharon Dessert
5 Kristina Vansandt
5 Beth Laughery
5 Kevin Saugier
5 Kelise Fuselier
5 Amara Shea O'Dell
10 Jerri Keller
10 Kimberly Swaney
10 Regina Brooks
10 Alison Lock
10 Tracy Diaz
10 Duane Nelson
10 Lea Payne
10 Georgia Blackman
10 Lorine Thomas
10 Sara Kreisel
10 Melissa Randolph
10 Leann Scrogham
10 Cheryl Parrett
15 Kathy Lefever
15 Kathleen Carr
15 Vicki Hathaway
15 Donna McLear
15 Kathleen Lahey
20 Jeffrey Lee
20 Pamela Stuart
20 Melinda Frechin
25 Susan Summerour
25 Barbara Burnett
30 Hazel Slater
30 Sheryl Kusgen
30 Gerri Ginsburg

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hey Kids, Look at the Humans

Yesterday I was running in my neighborhood and came across two deer. They both stopped and looked over at me. I stopped running as well to take in the moment. It took me back to the days when my parents used to say, "kids, look at the horses, deer, cows..." This time it seemed as though one deer said to another, "kid, look at the human!"

I really enjoy those moments that take you back in time to remember when you were a kid, why you did the things you did and what brought you to where you are today. I started out in healthcare as a psychiatric counselor for 5 years. As I explored doctoral programs, I looked into healthcare administration as a "back-up" option. When interviewing with different schools, I was drawn to healthcare administration and thought I could make a bigger difference in this field given my clinical background.

During our recent Safety Huddles, we have started or ended with several people sharing what inspired them to get into healthcare. Vicki Sherwood shared "My grandmother had a stroke when I was a senior in high school. I was vacillating on pursuing nursing or social work. The experience led me to choose nursing. I love helping others."

We also enjoyed similar stories from Erik Christianson and Larry Reimer from Human Resources and Facilities, respectively. Both said, they wanted an occupation where they could work indoors! We all have our own story that inspired us and brought us where are are today.

What inspired you to get into your field?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Standardization with Attention to Outliers

There's no question that standardization can and will decrease potential harm to our patients. We hear about it through The Institute for Healthcare Improvement, other national forums and locally in each of our hospitals. Certainly, these should be scientifically driven. This morning, during one of our physician led surgical meetings, we discussed generic incision care instructions and further opportunities to standardize. We referenced the current literature and key areas where we need to tailor the instructions to each patient, outside of any standard protocol.

As we reviewed best practices for incision care, someone shared a case they heard about where a post surgical infection took place because the patient allowed his cat to lick his surgical incision. Sure, a drastic outlier however a reason to ensure we tailor instructions accordingly and discuss potential concerns with all patients.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Good Mojo

How many of you have it too easy in your professional and personal life? Really...that many!

Have you ever heard someone use the term "good mojo" meaning personal magnetism or charm? Here's a few people who embody that spirit.

This afternoon, I ran into (not literally) a couple of my favorite walkers, Dr. and Mrs. Buchli. They are celebrating their 68th wedding anniversary (plus 3 years together before their wedding) and have only been apart for 21 days...they are just crazy about each other and are always by each others' side. You could just feel their commitment and energy towards each other.

A little later, I connected with a friend, Dave Kraft...the guy is always upbeat. Sure we all have good days and bad. However, someone forgot to give Dave the memo. While in a philosophical mode, I asked what he considers a bad day. His response, "I'll let you know when I have one!" Oh, and he was truly sincere.

When you find those people and they are truly sincere, their good energy can flow right through you....make sure you catch it!

Nursing Awards

This week brought a lot of celebration and reasons to be proud of the way we serve our mission. Here are a few of our associates and physicians who were recognized as going above and beyond through our Nursing Week celebration on Thursday...

Physician of the Year
Winner: Patrick Perkins, MD
David Blick
Timothy Blackburn
Rene Bollier
Robert Bowen
Cosmo Caruso
Neil Erickson
Dan Geha
David Hobley
John Holkins
John Lee
Craig Lundgren
Chris McElhinney
Michael Reilly
Timothy Smith
Shawn Willson

RN Nursing Excellence Award
Lacey Brown - Mother/Baby
Stephanie Dembicki - OR
Joyce Kerkove - Endoscopy
Shea O'Dell - Float Pool
Nona Cogdill - 4 West
Collette Culver - House Supervisor
Judy Doehling - OP Oncology
Jean Donaldson - Admissions
Jenna Einhellig - 4 South
Debbie Goodwin - 4 South
Deb Haverkamp - CCU
Pam Hazen - CCU
Paula Ising - ICU
Ashley Kastler - PACU
Brooke Lutz - 4 West
Michelle Meyer - Cath Lab
Shandra Miller - Float Pool
Patty Murphy - 5 North
Candy Quillin - GI Lab/Pain Clinic
Amanda Roland - 4 West
Pam Scovill - CCU
Theresa Thome - CCU
Catherine Tibbs - 4 North
Nancy Walrafen - 4 North
Chelsea Wekenbor - 4 East
Regina Wilson - Emergency
All of the nurses in Interventional Radiology

Rookie of the Year
Jordan Callahan - 4 West
Melissa Ramsey - Emergency

Erin Cleary - 4 East
Taylor Coyle - CCU
Sarah Krumsick - 3 West
Chao Li - 4 South
Ashley Libich - 4 East
Jamie Lyle - 5 South
Gina Pusateri - PACU
Amanda Roland - 4 West
Allison Wilkerson - 4 South

PCA/Tech of the Year
Sheri Britt - 5 North
Tom Upton - Emergency
John Campbell - Emergency
Delta Eggers - 4 East
Charlotte Fristoe - CCU
Verna Fasl - Pain Clinic
Jodi Kemp - 3 West
Natalie Lane - 5 North
Sherree Lee - 4 North
Amanda McCanles - 3 West
Carrie McGee - 4 West
Rosa Rome - 4 West
Andrea Woods - Endoscopy

Unit Secretary of the Year
Stephanie Boresow - 5 North
Godlove Kuklenski - 4 West
Nicole Buzan - 4 West
Julie Chrisman - OR
Pat Collins - Professional Practice
Sharon Dessert - Infection Control
Rae Freas - 4 East
James Hartness - Emergency
Janet Hefner - Emergency
Tammy Linningham - 4 North
Marsha Quinn - CCU
Carolyn Taylor - 4 South

Team of the Year Winner: 4 West
3 West
4 North
4 South
4 East
5 North
Admissions Unit
Case management
Cath Lab
Interventional Radiology
IV Team
Nursing Resources
Professional Practice

Interdisciplinary Award of Excellence:
Respiratory Therapy

Monday, May 9, 2011

How Would You Like to See What Your Hospital is Really Like?

What's your orientation like? Does it meet your needs?

Well, when I started at St. Joseph Medical Center, John Cottitta, Jr, one of our front desk volunteers, asked if I wanted to work with him. He said something like, "young man, how would you like to work with me and see what your hospital is really like?" How could I resist. John showed me the ropes and oriented me to the front desk responsibilities, answering phone calls and visitors' questions. Everyone knew John - he was clearly the "Mayor" of the front desk. Now granted, John thought there was a lot of improvement I needed at the front desk and he never missed an opportunity to provide guidance on my regular day job either.

A couple weeks ago, I included John's volunteer hours from our annual event - he clocked in the most hours with over 18,600 hours over 27 years...the equivalent of almost 9 years of full time work hours - as our volunteer. Recently, John became ill and had to took a leave from his post.

My friend, John, died yesterday just shy of his 87th birthday. We will miss you John. We are so appreciative of your dedication to our mission, the lives you touched and the difference you made.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Let Me Speak to Your Manager

We live busy lives and humor certainly adds levity to it. I enjoy people with a good sense of humor. Let me be clear that the humor of others needs to be gaged in each situation...

Have you ever been asked, "Who is your direct supervisor? What is your manager's name and number?" I know that can be frustrating and demoralizing on several levels. You get a sense that you were not able to resolve the situation to the other person's satisfaction. They are contacting your manager to get a different decision or outcome than you have provided. To make matters worse, you now have to supply your manager's contact information and give your manager a heads up that the call may be coming their way. Does this apply to our lives outside of work? I think so. Just this weekend, I asked my kids to take care of some things. Their respectful answer, "but mom said..." What did that tell me? They already knew our manager's name and contact information and they already received a different decision than I was requesting!

Happy Mother's Day to our favorite heroes.

Now, back to that person who was unsatisfied with your decision... Would they find the humor if you gave the name and number of "the manager" in your personal life? Probably not! Enjoy the remainder of your weekend.

Friday, May 6, 2011

I'm The One Calling at 3am

I'm the one who calls you at 3am...

That's what Dr. Tom Millard said when Dr. Bernie Judy reached across to introduce himself during our medical staff golf, tennis and fitness afternoon.

As an ER physician, Dr. Millard has to make those 3am calls to other physicians and knows that no one wants to be woken up! Dr. Judy let him know that he always appreciates his calls as he only gets them when there is a real need.

Yesterday, during our event, it just reinforced the benefit of camaraderie among colleagues. We work together professionally and may really never get a chance to know the each other on a more personal level.

Sure, there are always appropriate professional and personal boundaries and work - getting to know about each others' families and hobbies is certainly okay. In fact, those relationships will further the care we provide and improve the ways we support each other.

And getting to meet the voice at the other end of the phone after several years of talking...priceless.


Picture of me and Annette Small, our CEO for St. Mary's Medical Center. Over the past couple of weeks, we have been together at many events and gatherings. We are starting to feel like "Flat Stanley" getting pictures together all over the city!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I Just Need Some Mayo

Could having mayo packets improve the patient experience? Clearly mayo is part of the support cast for a broader meal!

We always strive to create an incredible experience for our patients and families. Many times it comes down to the little things we do.

Yesterday, I saw a man walking around the corridors outside the nursing unit. I asked if I could help him. He looked at my name badge and I could clearly see that he felt the CEO could not help this situation! He then gave it a shot and said that he just needs some mayo packets. He was right, I was going to struggle on this one as I did not have the code to our food galley (per policy, that was ok). I went and found Kellie Israel, one of our Food & Nutrition Associates. When I asked for the code to the galley she politely said that she would get the mayo for me out of the galley (again per policy - great work Kellie).

While I waited with the man, he let me know that the care was great and his wife enjoyed the food. He just needed mayo. He then let me know that his wife was had terminal cancer and he was just trying to spend as much time with her as possible before she dies. And it hit me as I thought about it...he left her side to get the mayo which took him away from his wife. Even if just for a few minutes, I knew and could tell he wanted that time with her.

These are times that I reflect on the ability for all of us to impact the experience for our patients, families and each other for that matter.

When we find ourselves in these situations, we need to continue to mine for ways that we could improve, enhance or just change a process to get the outcomes and experience we expect.

For those of us in healthcare, we each can play a critical role in in supporting each other and supporting our patients & families. All of us have the ability to make the difference in the lives of others and each other. Just those little things that make the difference.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Good Afternoon...

A note I shared with our team today...

What inspires you? Who inspired you recently?

Today, I received a letter from a family bragging about the care and compassion provided while her husband was here. Specifically she wrote, "my husband had a heart attack and was quickly taken to the Cath Lab where we encountered four fabulous nurses; Kim Bruno, Kim Graham, Christine and Catherine (the PILLOW fluffer). From the minute we arrived they helped to put us at ease with their compassion, professionalism and friendliness. My husband (the typical Macho Man) had never been so scared in his life and they were all able to calm him with understandable explanations about everything that was going on and about what would be happening. They did this with continual cheerfulness and thoughtfulness. We are sure that they do many procedures each day yet they made my husband feel as if his was the most important one they had ever done or will ever do. There was nothing routine. They were caring, cheerful and simply perfect in every way."

Last week, we held our April Associate of the Month reception honoring Pam Hazen, RN on our CCU. One way I would describe Pam would be her welcoming approach. As I round the hospital it is easy to see when areas are very busy. What I do look for is the welcome we provide each other no matter how busy we are through our day. Isn't that the acknowledgment we all enjoy from each other?

This morning, Joseph Jones from Environmental Services greeted me with a simple "Good Morning!" He was truly present when greeting me. As basic as it is, sometimes we lose sight of that simple "Good Morning" or "Good Afternoon." Those statements are actually a blessing and not just an evaluation of the day.

The welcome and greeting we provide each other, our, patients and families is one way that we make St. Joseph Medical Center and Carondelet Health a better place for our patients. This is part of the culture of who we are and the mission we serve. Hospitals can be scary places when you are the one feeling vulnerable. Many times our patients and families have a lot of questions and that calls for us to welcome them even more often.

Thank you for making the consistent effort to welcome each other, our patients and our families.

In addition, during our Safety Huddle, one of our managers noted that there are times when a patient is waiting to get on an elevator but it is full. It was requested that we step off the busy elevator to allow room for the patient and we all agreed. That is just one more thing I love about our culture...our willingness to quickly adjust as needed to better serve our patients, each other and our mission.

Wishing you all a great week.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Do the Sick No Harm

This afternoon I attended an open house at the Belton Community Center. Specifically, our family was interested in seeing Dave Kraft a good family friend and Strong Man Champion! We were hoping he would just provide a tour. However, he had other things in store for us and had us join him in a conditioning circuit. Between moving tires, using a sledgehammer, shaking oversized ropes and pushing a medal sled across concrete, we were exhausted. Dave made sure we all understood how to safely perform each exercise and watched us prior to getting started with the circuit. There was no question that safety was his number one concern for us.

As always, the same applies in our healthcare system. Thank you Jane Falk, our Executive Director, for passing the following quote to me from Florence Nightingale. She was doing some research in preparation for nurses week and was reviewing quotes by Florence Nightingale, she found the following quote and it struck me as I realized this was stated in 1859....she thought it spoke to our safety journey, that safety is the very first requirement in a Hospital. A journey we continue to follow for over 152 years.

It may seem a strange principle to enunciate as the very first requirement in a Hospital that it should do the sick no harm.
- Florence Nightingale

Friday, April 29, 2011

Pam Hazen, RN - Associate of the Month

Congratulations to Pam Hazen, RN from the Cardiac Care Unit. Pam is our April Associate of the Month.

Well deserved Pam!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The New C-A-Bs of CPR

Have you ever seen CPR performed. Were you the one who had to perform it or were you the one just staring helplessly because you had no idea how to help. I do not want to be that guy!

Today, I completed my re-certification in Basic Life Support (BLS). There are a few changes noted. In fact, the American Heart Association made their most drastic changes in 40 years.

According to the AHA, for nearly 40 years, CPR guidelines have trained people to follow these simple A-B-C instructions—tilt the victim's head back to open the airway, then pinch their nose and do a succession of breaths into their mouth, and finally perform chest compressions. But now, the AHA says starting with the C of chest compressions will help oxygen-rich blood circulate throughout the body sooner, which is critical for people who have had a heart attack. With this shift, rescuers and responding emergency personnel should now follow a C-A-B process—begin with chest
compression, then move on to address the airway and breaths. This change
applies to adults, children, and babies, but does not apply to newborns.

During training, we were told if you need to call for help, think about calling a cab or C-A-B! Not necessarily a great example but certainly one easy to remember.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Living in a Fishbowl...Finding Balance

How do I find balance during my busy schedule....

Healthcare management and healthcare in general involve a lot of time at work (so you want to enjoy what you do). There are times that people just need to get away to handle personal items during the day. This funny story came to me by a healthcare manager (who I'll call Susie) just trying to keep some balance in her life...

Funny story…

I was introduced to a gentleman through friends last week (email introduction…wonderful world of cyberspace and dating) and have met him twice for coffee. He is busy with kids/job as am I so it’s tough to find time…so today at 10:45 we were able to meet for a coffee.

First I show up @ Dean and Deluca and some woman is on the ground with one person assisting her…she passed out after giving blood. Made sure she was okay…no hitting of her head, not nauseated, good strong pulse etc…and 911 had been called. Perfect start….might I add she was right in front of the place to order salads and sandwiches!

Next I hear “hi Susie” and it’s your spouse. She was very sweet but I’m sure was wondering “what is Susie doing here at 10:45”. I told her meeting someone for coffee… next I run into one my prn staff, shopping with her baby boy….again, have to explain why the one day I sneak out for an early coffee I’m not AT work….

Next I run into another colleague who was on vacation this week…again…the winking and implication that I’m doing something “illegal”.

What I learned…someone is always there…how far do I have to drive?

Bi-plane Vascular Suite Blessing

We had a great time last night at our Bi-plane Vascular Suite blessing and opening. This technology helps us advance our efforts with our neuroscience and vascular services. The Bi-plane Vascular Suite will be used to provide the kind of precise anatomy delineation and visualization needed to provide comprehensive Stroke Care. Thank you to all who attended the event and supported this expansion.

A special thanks to the leadership and direction of Dr. David Burkart, Jane Falk and Derek Dinoni. Our first patients were seen today!

Seen above: Dr. Burkart (top left) and the Interventional Radiology Team. Bottom picture: Me and Annette Small, our Chief Executive Officer of St. Mary's Medical Center who joined us for the event.

The Visitor

This morning I went to visit a friend of mine in another area hospital. I spend thousands of hours each year in a hospital however it is always humbling when I am the visitor or patient. It is then that I take even more notice of the long hallways, signage, the environment, the interaction of staff with each other and with me. These experiences from time to time, are very difficult emotionally. However, they really do help me open my eyes even wider to my own surroundings and the experience we provide to our patients, community and each other.

I am very appreciative of all the work of our healthcare providers. We provide the compassion and care needed during very vulnerable times. We all know this and yet there are days like I had today where it is even more clear.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Visionary Award Winner - April

Congratulations to the Volunteers & Auxiliary, April's Visionary Award winners. The Volunteer and Auxiliary Services provides thousands of hours in community service and major contributions impacting the medical center's quality outcomes, growth, compliance and safety and patient satisfaction. The Volunteer & Auxilary are led by Jeri Grimes, Director and Mary Ann Nagy, President.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

Happy Easter!

I enjoyed rounding the hospital this afternoon with my 3 Easter 3 kids. First, I was reminded that the Birthing Center had requested chocolates for this visit. So we started there! Carmen, one of our RNs has requested S'mores for next visit.

My kids had a great time getting around the hospital with me (and giving me tips along the way). As long as they received one candy treat per floor, they stayed energized (we have 5 floors). Twix bars followed by Peanut Butter M&Ms were the crowd favorites this year.

It is always a fresh perspective seeing the eyes of your hospital through your kids. They definitely took advantage of all the handwashing stations throughout the hospital and enjoyed our new floors.

Thank you to all of you who worked this holiday.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mindy Hamilton - Young Dietician of the Year

Congratulations to Mindy Hamilton who was selected as Kansas City's Dietetic Association's Young Dietitian of the Year!

I had a chance to see the note informing Mindy of the good news:

Hello Mindy,
I am writing to inform you that you have been selected as this years KCDA's Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year for Missouri. Congratulations! It is quite an honor to be recognized by your peers in such a public way. Your commitment, dedication and talent in the field of Dietetics are an asset to the profession!

Way to go Mindy. We are so proud to have you on our team.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

If Boston Marathon Ran Your Hospital...

It has been a few days since running the Boston Marathon. The fog is starting to clear and I wanted to share my perspective as I try to view the marathon from a patient perspective...

In the hospital, we focus on some basic needs for patients which the StuderGroup names the 3Ps (Pain, Potty and Position) Protocol. Other obvious focus areas on basic needs include nourishment, medical attention and compassion with thousands involved directly and indirectly to provide this support. The same held true at the marathon.

When entering a hospital for surgery, a patient shows up a couple hours in advance, gets prepped for surgery, enters the operating room, goes through surgery and takes a few days to recover.

When entering the Boston Marathon, runners register, show up early to catch the bus to the start, take care of "potty" needs. There are medical tents to help any "pain" needs and you enter into a certain corral based on your qualifying time so you are "positioned" correctly with people similar to your speed in the race. During those 26.2 miles it felt like many of the same hospital basics were covered...bathrooms; medical tents; nourishment stations every mile; millions of "friends and families" providing cheers, compassion and encouragement along the whole route.

Even at the end, the "marathon case managers" get you safely to your belongings, provide more nourishment before you leave and offer last minute medical tents if you need to see the doctor before you leave. Some even leave the marathon in a wheelchair however that is not an ideal way to depart! From there, you are discharged home with a plan to recover over the following days.

If Boston Marathon Ran Your would be proud of them and pleased with your experience.

Thank you to the thousands of volunteers and staff in our hospitals and the Boston Marathon and thank you to the millions of families and friends who support us when we are patients or race participants.

Congratulations to Geoffrey Mutai (pictured above for his marathon record breaking time of 2:03.02 (that's an averag of 4:42/mile)!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Goal Setting

This morning we are heading back from Boston. Many people are walking around doing the "marathon shuffle." This well known shuffle is seen when walking after a race (very slow walk) and definitely when going up/down stairs. Handrails have never been used more than after a race. Similar to the hospital world, there was a lot of talk about goal setting and how everyone performed relative to their goals. Many debriefing on the race, discussing what they did well and areas for improvement. I see this a lot during patient handoffs when the staff discuss how their patient is doing as the staff come on/off shift. The goal to keep our patients safe starts with understanding the goals of care. In many ways, our life in the hospital is like a marathon - times that we are going fast, times we are struggling and need encouragement and times that we are just thrilled with how things are going. Marathons involve long term planning with short term goals along the way. In hospitals, we are on our feet 8, 10 and 12 hours a day...more than any one on their feet in a marathon.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Small Innovations

Jenny (my wife) and I just landed in Boston for the marathon on Monday. It was interesting hearing different stories on proven training techniques. All stories having the same theme of discipline, focus and the drive for continuous improvement. It was enjoyable to watch these collaborations among runners and supporters. On a similar improvement note, Jenny let me know that at Hen House, a Kansas City grocery chain, they changed their deli flow after years of the same process. Customers value their time and cost. Hen House values its customers. A simple innovation took place...bringing the scale to the carving machine, the employees weigh the meat/cheese as they are cutting it ensuring minimal waste, less travel time back and forth to the scale and getting customers the exact amount the customer wanted. Driving value to their customers by improving quality and service also helps the company improve employee engagement, safety (less back and forth action), quality (less waste due to unwanted product). These improvements lead to better financial benefits for customers and the company. Small innovations are happening everywhere and make huge cumulative advancements for an organization.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Volunteers Celebrate over 110,000 Hours this Year

Congratulations to our Volunteers and Auxilary. We celebrated over 110,000 hours this year under the exceptional leadership of our Director, Jeri Grimes and Auxilary President, May Ann Nagy. To put things in perspective, approximately 2,080 hours equals a full time employee.

Take a look at our heroes by the number of hours they have served over the years...

100 hours:
John Aloisio, Arline Arel, John Becker, Barbara Crabtree, Patti Davis, Jim Elleman, Suzanne FitzGerald, Glenda Honeycutt, Jerry Kesler, Robert Lehmann, Dora Muensch, Carrie Muldoon, Mary Murphy, Patricia Pronold, Carmen Rodriguez, Jeanette Sanders-Eagan, Tom Spencer, Ann Turgeon, Marilyn Wilson, Thomas Wilson, Teresa Witherspoon, Hilary Yost.

250 hours:
Hanna Beshe, Cindi Boles, Irene Broyles, Ann Chamblin, Janice Cline, Pat Cunningham, Jean Fecteau, Karen Fitzgerald, Patricia Foley, Rocky Hembree, Mary Lou Hoedl, Mildred Jefferson, Joan Jenkins, Gayle Johnson, Kae Kesler, Frank Lange, Kathy Madsen, Marlene Matthews, Marlene McGuire, Joann Moore ,Virginia Munoz, Patty Nolte, Thomas O’Connor, Dolores Pace, Joyce Pendleton, Martha Phillips, Esther Rudnick, Donna Sigler, Allison Strobach, Ed VanLeeuwen, Thomas Wynne, Karen Ziegler.

500 hours:
Mary Jo Axtell, Anita Basham, Teri Becker, Alice Douglass, Judy Gross, Larry Hodel, Li Jeang, Raymond Kline, Bill Knipp, Karen Major, Agnes Meyers, Bill Mohr, Virginia O’Donnell, Larry Pendleton, Bill Richter, Beth Serrioz, John Slayman, Shirley Voss, Shawna Webb, Barbara Wilkins.

750 hours:
Bunny Cox, Mary Alice Flemington, Edeen Martin, Mary Maskill, Vivian Norris, G.Cayce O’Kelley, John Purcell, Kathie Smith, Peggy Stewart, Elizabeth Villaume, Michael Weinrich, Kathy Wininger, Clarice Yetter.

1,000 hours:
Joseph Baumer, Rosemary Berberick, Millie Capers, Kenneth Corsini, Rita Gromowsky, Patricia Hanrahan, Linda Jennings, Mara Kelley, Jennifer Lynn, Robert Maskill, Donna Murray, John Norris, Mimi Powers, Patricia Seiter, Joyce Solomon, Amanda Thomas, Janie Thomas, Anita Uebelhart.

1,500 hours:
Susie Bolden, Marge Campbell, Myrtle Eisele, Jerry Fladung, Peggy Hembree, Nancy Kalesz, Ronny Lenzy, William McMahon, Clifford Miller, Fred Roberts, Mattie Steinline, Richard Stiles, Beth Taylor, Candy Warinner, Lavere York.

2,000 hours:
Nancy Canent, Dick Goos, Anna Herndon, Porter Hovey, Dorothy Johnston, Ruth Lang, David Long, Katherine Long, Ann Marino, Beverly McCann, Joyce Murphy, Jay Newton, Frank Petersen, Richard Poettgen, Dorothy Stover, Eleanor Swann, Mary Ann Weding, Dale Wolf.

2,500 hours:
Shari Boles, Joan Cody, Fran Graves, Donald Hougland, Helen Madsen, Fred Moeller, Mary Ann Olson, Mimi Sherwood.

3,000 hours:
Richard Deiters, Jr., Eleonora Donahue, Carole Dykes, Elisabeth Kanter, Myra Ladwig, Dorothy Lintz, Dusty Rhodes, Jr., David Stobie, Patricia Walsh.

3,500 hours:
Harriet Bennett, Deborah Dent, Myer Litwack, Annabel McInerney, Bonnie Morgan, Patricia Shannon, Eleanora Volz.

4,000 hours:
Don Bauer, Ellen Durbin, Dorothy Hauser, Sally Jarvis, Kaye Martin, Evelyn Slayman, Thomas Stevens.

4,500 hours:
Bill Akright, Jean Gray, Jerry Harvey, Marcella Morris, Joann Shannon, Lisa Smith.

5,000 hours:
Nancy Ferrett, Bernard Flucke, Sherry Harvey, Jean Mosimann.

5,500 hours:
Bruce Border, Mary Flucke, Robert Moss.

6,000 hours:
Mildred Thompson

6,500 hours:
Ann Clark, Mary Ann Nagy, Virginia Rudisel

7,000 hours:
James Poland, Elizabeth Stewart

7,500 hours:
James McInerney

8,000 hours:
Audrey Dusselier, Tricia Sandidge

8,500 hours:
Marilyn French

9,000 hours:
William Groll, Doris Pecoraro

9,500 hours:
Rebecca Hook, Eileen Krause, Shirley Noonan

10,000 hours:
Eileen Farnen, Jeannine Foley

11,000 hours:
Richard Duncan, Sherel Sands

12,000 hours:
Geraldine Duncan

17,500 hours:
Marietta Hedrick, Russell Watson

18,500 hours:
John Cottitta, Jr.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Future is in Our Hands

Last night, President Obama discussed his plan to curb the growth of health care costs.

A few of his proposal points included: "Medicare and Medicaid Savings of $480 Billion by 2023 and At Least an Additional $1 Trillion over the Subsequent Decade, Providing Better Care at Lower Costs:

Building on the Affordable Care Act, the President is proposing additional reforms to Medicare and Medicaid designed to strengthen these critical programs by reducing waste, increasing accountability, promoting efficiency, and improving the quality of care, without shifting the cost of care to our seniors or people with disabilities.

The framework will save $340 billion over ten years and $480 billion by 2023 (including the proposals already included in the President’s Budget). Over the subsequent decade, the President’s proposal will save well over $1 trillion by further bending the cost curve, doubling the savings from the Affordable Care Act.

The President’s framework offers a stark contrast with the House Republican plan that would increase seniors’ health costs by $6,400 annually starting in 2022, raise health insurance premiums for middle-class Americans and small businesses, cut Federal Medicaid spending by one-third by the end of the decade, and increase the number of uninsured by 50 million.

Yes, the Medicare and Medicaid plan calls for saving $480 billion by 2023 - just 12 years away - and another $1 trillion the following decade. If we just estimate that savings across roughly 5,000+ hospitals, it comes to $8M improvement per hospital over the next 12 years for a cumulative savings of $96M/hospital by 2023.

We can do it as a healthcare industry. It will not be easy, however, as we leverage the knowledge we have within and across health systems, we will continue to improve our quality and safety efforts, enhance our patient experiences and reduce costs. How are we mining for ideas formally and informally? Certainly, formal ways need to exist to measure, manage and advance efforts. How are you informally getting those ideas from people closest to our patients? I still enjoy the high students who shared their brainstorming sessions:' - I hate it when... - I wish I could... Then, they prioritize based on the goals of their project and the estimated resources needed. Sounds simple yet it is something we could do even better in healthcare - the mindset of continuously improving even with fewer resources as we have already seen these past 20 years.

So, should the future of healthcare concern us? Of course. Our industry is very challenging and I am very positive about the future because it is in our hands to make the necessary changes needed within the resources provided. So let's continue to work together and learn from each other so we identify even the little things that we could change that will make a big cumulative impact in years out. What's one change you and your organization could make starting next week that would add value to your patients and further the organization's mission?

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Miracle Floor - Teamwork at its Best

I just have to share...this note was sent to me last week by Stephanie Boresow,Unit Secretary on 5N - Rehab Unit:

I thought you might enjoy reading about one of many times when eight or more departments worked together well to make a successful day happen on 5 North. Hope it's ok that I'm doing so in an email. As the Unit Secretary for 5 North - I get to see when many different people come together to do great things, and for that I'm truly grateful to be working exactly where I am. :)We had three admits yesterday afternoon that ended up all needing to come at once. A great number of people made that happen seamlessly.

First, Paulette Johnson in Environmental Services did four STAT cleans, all on her own, as her co-worker, Yolanda Ross made several trips to get extra materials - when we had to move people around on our floor to accommodate three new patients.

Next, Ginger Taylor (Virginia) performing a newer role today as stand-in Admitting Liaison - made sure all orders were done correctly and completely, contacted all necessary physicians and insurance companies, helped sort out which nurses would take which patients, and just dove in so many times to help any of us who needed it.

Both Shirley Graham and Linda Carmona in Patient Access kept pace with 5 North as we moved patient rooms, asked for pre-admitting status, and then got them all at once (lots of paper work!)

Loretta Lackey in Central Services made sure we had everything we needed from CS as our needs kept changing - she even ran some mepilexdressings to us by hand.

Georgie Agim and Linda West - both 5N RN's - were able to do their usual "magic" in patient care with full patient loads, a shift change, and three new, consecutive admits. The nurses on 5 North are truly amazing, and they were able to give patients the attention they deserve because everybody worked together so well to make it happen.

Sherri Britt, 5N PCA, deserves special mention. One of our three new admits decided she was no longer interested in staying at the hospital. Ginger and Sherri gently talked to the patient who was irate. It was brilliant, helpful, kind and perfectly timed.

Courtney Scanlon, our pharmacist for the day, checked on us all day because she knew we would be receiving several patients at once. The Pharmacy staff that stays on the 5th floor are always so helpful at providing immediate order entry as well as pharmaceutical information.

Finally, we have our three therapy teams who are the jewels of the Rehab floor: Janice Balke, our PT Tech, made sure each new admit had the proper equipment, as she was also keeping up with our current patients for Group therapy today (when even your wife Jenny got to see how busy we all were!)

Both Marta Sanorand and Jacob Neece(PT) took care of several delicate patient situations in their calm, professional manner and still squeezed in their new evals.

Penny Murphy and Juliet Arndt in OT did their own magic for their departments, while Melissa James and Cathy Burns in Speech Therapy worked to figure out how to get more evals done when we were a few Speech therapists short today.

What I hope I've done is show how during a mere five-hour time slot so much cooperation and teamwork truly happens in this hospital and especially on 5North. Our management team of Jeff Lee, Coco Gonzalez, and Jennifer Leonard are always available and right there with us as we work together to get everybody the best care possible. They lead by example, have the respect of their staffs, and jump in to help us all the time. We all work so well together because of decisions they are constantly making.

I was just so proud to work here yesterday. Yesterday was true teamwork at its best. A healthcare multi-disciplinary team is what any of us would want for ourselves and our own families. Several people like to call 5North"the Miracle floor" - and in so many ways, it usually is.

Thanks for your time in reading this Giant ICU. I just believe that when people come together to do great things - it's a crime not to call attention to it. Have a good rest of your week, Scott! (If someone could pass this on to supervisors in CS, Pharmacy, ES, and Inpatient Admitting, I think they'd like to hear how their staff positively affects 5 North too - thanks.)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Extra Extra Read All About It!

A friend from a competing organization let me know that he enjoys reading information I send out in our physician newsletter. I did not ask how he obtains the newsletter however we live in a small healthcare world. So, in the interest in getting the word out ahead of time, here is my update for our next edition:

"Last week, we had nine Town Hall meetings to accommodate the different shifts and days. It is not always easy for people to break away for a Town Hall or come in on their off time. You have a Voice in our organization and we want to ensure that SJMC is the place where you prefer to practice medicine. One thing is certain; all your efforts are so greatly appreciated. Our work is hard and our patients need us more than ever before. It is our job to keep mining for ways that we can care for those we serve and ensure that our health care system is focused on providing quality care in a compliant, safe, cost effective and service oriented manner.

The following summarizes some of the key themes we discussed: We have seen a lot of great improvements at St. Joseph Medical Center over the past year. One thing is for certain: changes in health care are constant and will continue across the country for years to come. Healthcare Reform will impact St. Joseph Medical Center by approximately $50 million over the next 10 years. It is imperative for us to look at our organizational goals and understand how we contribute to these goals and how we can make the greatest impact.

The Organizational Goals in line with our mission, vision and values include the following.
· Quality Care
· Compliance and Safety
· Market Growth & Operating Effectiveness
· Patient Satisfaction

So how will we support these goals moving forward? This is where we need everyone to understand their role in achieving the organizational goals above and help foster priorities for improvement and innovation.

Other Town Hall updates included:

· We have seen continued growth this year in the following areas: overall admissions, neurosciences, cardiology, women's services, general surgery, orthopedics, rehab unit, endoscopy, inpatient surgery and our outpatient center, South Kansas City Surgery Center.

· Our focus will continue to be 100% private rooms. We are opening 3 North in May with 16 additional Telemetry beds. This will allow us to take one of the units on the 4th floor and convert from 24 beds to 16 private. In all, we will have eight additional beds in our system with 32 of them being private.

· Later this month we will celebrate the opening of our neurointerventional Bi-Plane suite.

· We opened a Cardiac PET scanner last month along with our Cardiac Device Clinic.

· SJMC was approved for an eight-bed Intensive Care Unit with a focus on Neurosciences. This will include a domino of moves - the planning is underway with an expected opening date of July 2012. This addition will allow us to focus on CCU as all Cardiac and convert the remaining semi-private rooms into private.

· Our associate turnover rate did go up a year ago and has been on a downward trend for the last six months with our lowest nursing turnover in years this past February.

· Our inpatient and outpatient satisfaction scores are on the rise since we focused on three questions and three behaviors per area.

· We have implemented Safety Huddles in an effort to reduce any harm or potential harm to patients and those we serve.

· Our last Joint Commission survey was the best we have done in many years. That took all of our efforts and we should be extremely proud.

Thank you for serving our mission and for your continued support of St. Joseph Medical Center and Carondelet Health. This is our health system and we all play a major role in achieving our organization's goals."

Why Don't You Take a Breather...

This morning I went swimming with a Master's swim group. Swimming is certainly not a strength for me but I do enjoy the challenge and benefits of it. There is so much to focus on in order to stay safe and swim efficiently. Well today, I was passed by a swimmer Blake Cooper, MD. That was not a surprise as I had been told he would be lapping us on a regular basis...or at least he would be lapping me on a regular basis. The pleasant surprise came when he took a break and saw that I swallowed water, started coughing and then began to swim again. He quickly grabbed my shoulder and said, "why don't you take a breather." Now, I really do not know Blake except seeing him during practice. His commitment to safety was impressive. Yes, I almost went on but thought, it probably took him a lot to stop someone he does not know well and no doubt he was looking after my best interest. When I think about our roles in hospitals, it is so critical that we actively look for those safety moments, acknowledge when things are safe so we continue and quickly stop each other when we see a "potentially" unsafe situation. Blake was a true unwavering advocate, a phrase our fearless CNO, Cynde Gamache has coined in the past.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

To Meet or Not to Meet

This morning I met with with Sister Rosemary Flanigan while going from one meeting to the next. She stopped me and said it seems like there are a lot of meetings today. I let her know that there were a lot of meetings and I really enjoy getting around the hospital so much more than just sitting around in meetings. Everyone agrees that we can accomplish so much more when we are out and about the hospital. However, today just must have been one of those days. Sister Rosemary provided great perspective..."one day, a young hospital administrator will come up to you and ask, what do you administrators do all day. And you could say we all went to meetings!." I am pleased to share that we have reduced hundreds of hours of meetings throughout the year. There are still the times to do the balance act and ensure that we meet when we know it will have an effective impact for the organization. Otherwise, I prefer my walking (running) shoes.

Has Anyone Seen the Bladder Scanner?

We spend a lot of time at work and there are things I really enjoy and things that do start to get to me. One of those things has been the overhead page looking for a bladder scanner. No, it does happen often, but when it does, I often wonder...did the overhead help? Did a group of individuals stop and say, "hey the bladder scanner is missing, let's go hunt for it."

Now in our continuous improvement mindset, we are exploring more effective options for finding what is missing or tracking those items prior to leaving the unit. Funny thing is that I must have mentioned this during one of my Town Halls or while rounding and here is a note I received from Georgia Zeller, one of our ER associates. It just cracked me up... "Scott, I’VE GOT IT!!! I know how you absolutely hate the overhead page for “the unit that has the bladder scanner, please return it to 4 East.” I just heard it again and had a brain storm. We could establish another secret code… code green, code blue, code gray Are you ready??? Code BS (bladder scanner). Visitors wouldn’t have a clue what the page was for, but they might think something worse than bladder scanner. What do you think?? So much for my inspiration this morning. Have a great day, Georgia"

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Huddling for Safety

We have daily safety huddles in our hospitals. Thank you to Lisa Thacker for attending the Missouri Center for Patient Safety Annual Conference and sharing our poster presentation "Huddling for Safety."

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Closing the Loop and Fostering Innovation

Working in healthcare means many people know what you and your organization are up to at all or at least most times. No doubt, we live in a "highly visible environment" and open ourselves up to guidance (sounds much nicer than criticism) on a regular basis. Personally, I really enjoy the fact that my words and actions are looked after - there is no greater perspective than getting a 360 degree feedback on a daily if not weekly basis. Actually, it makes it much easier to course correct and get things back on track. And let's face it designing systems to create and deliver value to your patients and organization is a never ending task.

This past week, I held nine hospital Town Hall meetings to accommodate the different shifts and days. It is not always easy for people to breakaway for a Town Hall or come in on their off time. Tonight, we discussed ways that each of us could impact our organization's goals. These goals are in line with our mission and include:

- Quality Care
- Compliance and Safety
- Patient Satisfaction
- Market Growth and Operating Effectiveness

So how will we continue to advance our efforts? This is where everyone needs to understand their role in achieving the organization's goals and help create the priorities for improvement and innovation. We discussed the importance of "kaizen" or continuous improvement on a daily basis.

The people attending the Town Hall meetings had a lot of great ideas. One thing we could improve upon is how we mine for these ideas and close the loop with those who provided the idea. When we follow-up with those people with the ideas, we foster even more innovation. At SJMC alone, we could implement 4,600 improvements every year if every employee, volunteer and physician brought forward just 2 ideas which we planned for and implemented. They do not have to be big ideas. A lot of them could be kept simple and have a great impact on our goals.

Let me know about the small and large innovations you've created to better your organization.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Coffee or Omelets?

I just had a chance to talk about my job with the students at Prairie Star Elementary School. They asked where else in the hospital I've work and I let them know I've transported patients, I've worked on the nursing units, I've made omelets and worked in the coffee shop. One student asked if I enjoyed working in the coffee shop more than making omelets - I went the coffee route. Not too many people get upset when you hand over their latte, tea or pastry!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Trust - Inspire - Pride - Engage - Believe

Throughout the Town Hall meetings, we have discussed key themes and focus for our continued success...

- Trust
- Inspire
- Pride
- Engage
- Believe (thank you for adding this one Kathy Gutteridge - so true!)

Quick story:
Priscilla Smith-Wren...thank you for our conversation today on being inspired and inspiring others. While cleaning patient rooms, Priscilla has been known to sing a song or two. She shared the story on how her singing brings joy to our patients and in turn inspires her.

Fully Engaged

Enjoy the St. Joseph Medical Center Physician Newsletter update from Dr. Donald Clement, our Chief of Staff and my guest blogger today...

There is no “I” in “team” (or so the saying goes). Never has it been more apparent to me than just this past month as SJMC excelled in the recent visit from The Joint Commission. We accomplished a great deal with our success in The Joint Commission review. This achievement is no small feat and would not be accomplished without the required necessary teamwork.

When I look around the hospital, I’m continually impressed by this very teamwork I see on a daily basis. As many of you know, I get to spend much of each day in the GI Endoscopy lab. What a great group! For over 16 years I’ve witnessed firsthand what can be accomplished when everyone is willing to pitch in and help get the job done. The staff is always looking out for the patient and striving to make the experience for not only the patients but the other staff both enjoyable and safe. I’ve also had the privilege of recently spending more time than I’d like (just kidding, Tara!) with the super folks in the outpatient Rehab Unit. These are superbly trained individuals that the surgeon can rely on. He or she can do a wonderful job with the operative repair but needs these enthusiastic professionals to affect a good clinical outcome.

Take the time to look around and appreciate your other team members in whatever area you work. Don’t ever forget that your expression of that appreciation to each of the other team members within this organization is recognized and welcomed. Imagine our therapeutic potential when we are all working together and fully engaged as members of the Health Care Team. So while there may be no “I” in “team” I believe you’ll agree that “teamwork” spells “success.”

Thank you Dr. Clement. Your leadership and support is absolutely appreciated.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Town Hall Updates

Our Town Hall meetings went well today. Great discussion with additional sessions planned this week. I'll share some summary points once we are done. Thank you all who were able to attend and participate in the discussion. A special thanks to Nan Whalen and Jenn Leonard for making the 6a, 4p and 10p sessions today. See you at 6a Wednesday for out next Town Hall.

Monday, March 28, 2011


During our Safety Huddle this morning, I asked for safety stories and inspirational stories from the weekend. Well, after a nasty weather weekend with another snowfall, many heads looked down. I mean frankly this snow is really getting to a lot of us and we just want it to end already. Just when we think we have seen the last of hits us again. Just Schwakopf spoke up and surprised all of us with...."The Snow inspired me." She went on to say that she thought the snowfall was beautiful and could see the flowers blooming. Even though it snowed once again, she spoke of seeing the positive in the snowfall and the importance of Resilience. Her words really hit me.

When I look at the ongoing changes in healthcare and at our hospital, the need to be resilient certainly is needed. We can not look at things and expect them to be exactly the same next week, next month or next year. We need to speak openly about the direction of the organization, our priorities and each of our roles in helping the organization today and into the future. Change is ongoing and it should be as opposed to waiting for things to build up and then finding yourself in a position to make drastic changes all at once. Isn't it like that in our personal lives as well?

Thank you for your words this morning, Judy. Resilience provides continued hope and encourages each of us to stay engaged or get re-engaged. It builds a greater sense of trust, pride and inspiration.

So keep that in mind the next snowfall when you expect to see Spring!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Matrix

Healthcare organizations are very complicated and there is a need for people to rely on each other in the best interest of the organization. Many organizations have a matrixed structure. I discussed this with David Ireland, the CEO of our Cardondelet Heart Institute and Ron Slepitzka, President of Avila University. Ron, a former football player shared an analogy about a football player running up the middle of the field towards - if certain players do not go into motion to block and allow the player to move through, it will be nearly an impossible task to magically run "through" thousands of pounds (of players).

David discussed the benefit of always having a lead person on a project or initiative with others supporting the lead. This project lead is not based on an organizational hierarchy. It goes back to a discussion I had a few weeks ago on co-creator vs. dependent and when each of us need to play a particular role.

The other key element is for the teams to know and understand the organization's priorities. Therefore, if I take the lead on a project and need support from 5 others, we all need to understand where my project falls on the priority list.

Think of an airline. There is a lead Pilot on each flight. The Air Traffic controllers and many others support the Pilot's effort to take off, fly and land safely. However, the Pilot needs to know what order they are in priority so the expectations are clear by all. And they usually let us know by telling us, "Folks, as you could see we have been waiting on the runway for some time now. Looks like we are 5th for take-off with an estimated 10 minute wait."

The matrix environment we have in many healthcare organizations encourages us to collaborate, leverage our knowledge, work together and communicate clearly with others impacted or involved. This pertains to communicating our organization's goals, key leaders on projects or over departments and prioritization of these goals.

Zen Den

Yesterday, I had breakfast with Jacob Schreiber, a colleague of mine and local community leader. We discussed our organizations, priorities and challenges. He inquired about the stress of the job. It's interesting to think about stressful jobs. In healthcare we make decisions everyday that could impact many lives - it could be surgical decisions, clinical decisions on the nursing floors, decisions on how we will treat one another, financial decisions and the list goes on...

Our jobs in healthcare and all of our organizations for that matter probably are stressful in many ways. My thought is that you should not be stressed everyday though. That would be a terrible way to come to work and certainly would make you ineffective.

Jenny (my wife) and I were talking about this last night. She mentioned having more "zen" or relaxation space at work. So I looked up zen in the office on Google and found a company, Ballantyne that has a "Zen Den". I think it is a great idea. As Ballantyne sees it, managing workplace stress has never been more important than it is in today’s economic climate. The Zen Den aims to help tenants find the balance with a room in which they can relax, reflect and rejuvenate. The room has been created to provide a soothing environment with soft lighting, comfy seating and even a water feature. “We’re constantly looking for ways to improve the work lives of our clients,” says Amanda Schüss, general manager of Ballantyne Business Centers. “The Zen Den provides a place for them to escape their e-mail and ringing phones and sit and relax for a few peaceful moments.”

Last year, we updated and renovated our healing garden outside. We do have space next to our cafeteria for a Zen Den concept.

I would like your thoughts...let me know what you think could make this a respite at work even if just for a few minutes a day.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Relationship Based Management

This morning I was walking around the hospital and stopped to speak with Michelle Meyer, our Manager for SJMC Carondelet Heart Institute (includes cath lab, EP lab, CV Prep and Recovery, EKG and Echo). Michelle is truly one of our exceptional leaders keeping the best interests of our patients, her team and the organization at heart. One of the things she shared with me has been the focus and balance on being an "advocate" for her team while ensuring the she manages the key aspects of her business (e.g., patient outcomes, safety, service, financial).

I really liked that balanced approach - advocating for her team and the organization. So I Googled Relationship Based Management just to see what I would find. The Centre for Innovation in Management described Relationship Based Management well. Although it is listed as a new philosophy, I think it has been an approach around for years with more recent acknowledgment of the long term benefits. They state:

While a new relationship-oriented management philosophy is evolving, command-and-control management still holds sway in the majority of our corporations. The CEO and executives see themselves as serving the interests and perspectives of all of the company's key stakeholders, not just investors. Management as a whole is focused on building strategically important relationships with stakeholders inside and outside the organization. The primary role of managers, rather than commanding and controlling corporate resources, is preserving and extending the relationships upon which the corporation depends.

Relationship-based management takes an integrated, long-term, company-wide approach to identifying and building relationships with strategically important stakeholders. Efforts are focused on creating opportunities for mutual benefit rather than buffering or protecting the company from the demands of stakeholders. Relationship building is directly linked to corporate values and business strategy.

Strong relationships can stimulate innovation, increase flexibility, reduce costs, and allow companies to respond quickly to changing customer requirements. A good reputation, based on sound relationships with customers and communities, means that companies can attract and keep the best employees. Enhanced loyalty and support from employees, customers, investors, and business partners translates into bottom line profits and long-term growth Relationships and the bottom line.

In the healthcare world, that means doing the right things for our patients in harmony with all our providers and key support areas. Thanks to Michelle and our other leaders for role modeling Relationship Based Management.