Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Postcard from D.C.

On Wednesday, members of the delegation from Poweshiek County Economic Development (PowI-80) had meetings with Rep. Bruce Braley, Rep. Leonard Boswell, Senator Chuck Grassley, and Senator Tom Harkin.

Pictured here are the members of the group meeting in Senator Harkin's office. We are advocating for many issues of importance to Poweshiek County. Obviously, one of the biggest issues of the day revolved around President Obama's proposed economic stimulus package. The House of Representatives have passed the package and it now goes to the Senate.

The Senate Finance Committee have reviewed their version of the stimulus package. As you may know, our Senator Chuck Grassley, is the ranking member of that committee and Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) is the chair of the committee. Over the past few years, both Senator Grassley and Senator Baucus have been working closely on rural hospital issues, including the unfair Medicare reimbursement system for tweener hospitals such as GRMC.

I am pleased that there is a provision in the package to provide assistance to Iowa's tweener hospitals. We are advocating that this and many other provisions of the legislation stay in the final version of the package that will directly benefit Iowa hospitals and the people who rely on them for their healthcare.

Please take a moment, and thank your U.S. Members of Congress and their hard-working staff, for all they do on behalf of Iowans.

We're doing more than keeping our fingers crossed that these provisions will make it to the final version--we're actually on The Hill telling the story for all of us. When I get back from DC later this week, I'll share more with you about what I heard and learned.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Call to Action!

I thought President Obama’s inaugural address was extraordinary this week. It will be quite interesting to see if he is able to provide the leadership necessary to bring Democrats and Republicans together to effectively address the many challenges facing our nation. I am quite hopeful this will be the case. I was especially struck by his focus on the enduring values that indeed have defined our great nation and his call to action by all of us.

“Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task. This is the price and promise of citizenship.” President Barack Obama 1/20/09

Indeed these words are a call to action as citizens to do what we can, to do what we must to strengthen our nation. I couldn’t help but think about these words in the context of working in a hospital. These same values hold true for the women and men who work hard to meet the needs of the communities we serve. Our challenges have never been greater in meeting those needs and yet we are called to action. Compelled to fight through all the paperwork and regulation, scarcity of resources and government underpayment, complexity and pace of change…why? Simply the desire to make a difference in the lives of those we serve. We do this not grudgingly, but rather gladly, because the opportunity to serve others is our distinct privilege.

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent GRMC’s positions, strategies, or opinions.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Good Bye 2008!

It’s a new year and with it all the optimism that comes with new starts. 2008 was a challenging year in many respects, especially the fight to maintain fiscal success when Medicare and Medicaid reimburse GRMC at only 67 percent of costs. When the dust settles, we will realize about $7 million below what we spent taking good care of these two patient populations last year! Even though we reduced staffing costs through attrition (well over $1.5 million over expenses in 2007) we will still experienced a multimillion dollar loss from operations. Despite this financial black cloud, 2008 had many bright spots because of the dedication and compassion of many committed people. From our volunteers and board members, to our medical staff and employees, people make the difference at GRMC.

A few of the accomplishments of this past year (a year we celebrated 40 years since the merger of St. Francis and Community Hospitals) included outstanding strides in our quality, patient safety, and service excellence journey. Measured in superior patient satisfaction and patient outcome scores, we know the quality of our work is the central focus of what we do everyday. It ranks us at the top of providers nationwide. The work of our quality leadership team was evident with Rapid Response, Condition H, zero central line infections and ventilator associated pneumonias, TeamSTEPPS participation, the new Patient and Family Care Council, to name a few.

Another highlight of 2008 was the amazing financial support from the community. In a year marked with historic economic hardship in our country, our annual fund drive established a new record with over 1,100 donors and $313,000 in gifts; a 35 percent increase over 2007! This follows the wildly successful capital campaign that concluded in 2007 and raised a whopping $8.3 million. The Auxiliary kicked in over $30,000 more in support for equipment purchases last year. Without this outpouring of support and generosity from the community we certainly could not be the hospital we are today.

On the medical staff front, we added two new anesthesiologists (Drs. Whipple and Emge), a new pain specialist (Dr. Pavlovic), a new family physician for Deer Creek Health Center in Toledo (Emil Pecholt) and a new internal medicine physician (Dr. Lindgren). In addition we added three new physician assistants: Kristin Leonard, Sarah Fedderson, and Jarrod Phelps. Each of the above has excellent training and clinical skills and the personality focused on caring, compassion, and teamwork. A great year in medical staff recruitment in deed.

Another highlight for the year included articles in the Des Moines Register about our efforts to stimulate community supported agriculture; Modern Healthcare regarding the “Tweener” Medicare issue; the Cedar Rapids Gazette touting our efforts to raise $16,000 for employees from St. Luke’s Hospital that lost their homes in the spring floods; and USA Today extolling our integrated medicine programs! It is fun to get state and national recognition for the efforts of our employees to make a better world.

Finally, the acts of kindness, the hallmark of our efforts to fulfill our mission of service, to the community were evident daily. Despite the financial challenges, I am proud of my colleagues that call GRMC home and refuse to let government payment get in the way of caring and curing!

2009 will no doubt have its own challenges; however I am convinced we will not only meet those challenges, we will make it a better year financially with resolve, commitment, and an attitude of service to the communities we serve.

On a personal note, 2009 marked a change for me as I hit my 15th year at the helm of GRMC. It will be a year without my friend and colleague Todd Nelson. After 18 years, Todd was recruited to provide leadership at the Healthcare Financial Management Association in Chicago. His devotion to a job well done; his commitment to integrity; his amazing work ethic; and his determination to make GRMC the best it could be will be missed. I wish him well and look forward to working with him in his new role in advocacy and policy development for healthcare CFOs across the country. He will be extraordinary in this role and the country will be better off for his efforts. Here is the candy bar poem we wrote him as he left:

Our time together has been (Good & Plenty). Over the last 18 years you have been a (Life Saver) to us, and not a (Milk Dud).

Before you hit the road, we wanted to (Take 5) and give you some helpful advice:
-Don't be an (Airheads) in your new job.
-Be a (Red Hots) financial advisor to all those CFOs.
-Please, please never stop acting (Nutrageous).
-Treat everyone like a (Sweethearts) and not a (Dum Dum).
-Don't let the $ slip through your (Butterfinger).
-Work hard and Fridays will be a great (Pay Day).
-Leave the (Goobers) in your nose.

Do all these things and your new coworkers will love you to (Pieces). (Kisses) Your friends at GRMC.

Sparky, now that you hit the (Big League), don't go on a shopping (Spree)! Remember we had (Mounds) of (Snickers) mostly because you're such a (Nerds). Honestly, we think you're worth a (100 Grand) and we even asked Nate and Thad and they said their (Pop Rocks)!!!

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent GRMC’s positions, strategies, or opinions.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Being Todd Linden

Have you ever gone to the search engine Google and typed in your name?

Try it sometime. You might be surprised at what comes up.

Here are a few I found:

Todd Linden, professional baseball outfielder
"Linden had a monster game last night with the Giants."
That could be a fun morale booster. There was even a phrase referring to someone who "pulled a Todd Linden." From the context, that didn't seem like a positive thing to do, however.

Todd Linden, MD, clinical instructor, New York University gastroenterology section.
Now, let me think...a gastroenterologist...I think I'd rather play one on TV.

Todd Linden, NASCAR PR associate
Not bad. I enjoy car racing. Have you been to the Iowa Speedway in Newton yet? It's awesome.

Todd Linden, 2006 Teleplay Sitcom Winner, Austin Film Festival
Now that has some real appeal!

Alright, fantasy over. I'm Todd Linden, hospital administrator for Grinnell Regional Medical Center and that's just who I want to be. I get to work with a great group of people, some of the best anywhere, dedicated to making a difference in the lives of others.