Friday, February 27, 2009

What’s in a Name?

The new Neon Café’s smashing success revolves around the people who make a difference. First, some history: nine years ago GRMC hired Edie (Clayton) Muta, the owner of Edie’s Edibles, to bring her sandwich shop to the medical center. She was not sure she could stay in business due to a rent increase and we wanted to add something to our traditional cafeteria. We literally put it in a wide spot in the corridor not far from the cafeteria and called it the Corner Café. It was an overnight success. It quickly outgrew the space and we started thinking about expanding it and finding a permanent home for this experiment. Edie left GRMC but her exquisite sandwiches remained.

Along came our two main sandwich makers, Mary Anderson and Carla DeGeorge. (They get lots of help, of course, from many of the nutrition services staff as well.) I like to think of them as personality and personality plus! If you have been to the Corner Café you know exactly what I mean. In reality, they realize that making a great sandwich is only half the job. The other half is creating a little respite from the sometimes stressful and hectic pace of the hospital. They serve up a smile, friendly banter, and even a little “attitude” when the customer deserves it! From Hootie Hoot Day to celebrity grillers, trivia contests to guess the high school pictures, these ladies have a good time and everyone appreciates the fun.

So when it came time to come up with a name for the new space, the Neon Café took top billing. I really wanted a name that encouraged the “fun and vibrant” environment these ladies have created. We had a neon sign company design a “Neon Café” sign and then found several other neon lights and pictures. Brightly colored T-shirts with slogans, like “Brighten your day at the Neon Café” and “Fill your belly at the deli,” add to this festive eatery.

I also want to recognize the financial contributions from the GRMC Auxiliary that helped to make the project possible in the first place. Their dedication to our hospital can be seen at every corner and I appreciate their willingness to volunteer their time and talents!

The space was well-designed thanks to architect Kevin White. The Neon Café construction was primarily done by Clay Beyer and Bruce Engbers, with lots of help from the facilities management gang and department directors Kris Gilman and Mark Doll.

The new Neon Café is getting radiant reviews because the people at GRMC are dedicated to doing everything brilliantly! Great food, at a great price, served up with great fun!

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

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Building Wellness Awareness for the Next Generation

An important part of the GRMC mission statement reads: Commitment to promoting wellness, restoring health, and enhancing the quality of life for all we serve.

In other words, we believe it is part of our responsibility to be a beacon of light to the community on improving the health of all citizens. Toward these ends we often partner with other organizations to bring the message of good health directly to their organization. Recently, we teamed up with Grinnell College to host the Grinnell College Wellness Fair. The event featured 32 booths with wellness and health information tailored to students, ages 18 to 25. One of many of our staff members, Patty Hinrichs attended with a display on hand-washing and public health tips for body piercing and tattooing – a hot topic for college-aged students. Patty reported, “This was a fun event to work. The students are not inhibited and are inquisitive to find out what we had to offer. I had a lot of interaction with the students. It was great.”

Our human resources booth hosted Grinnell College alumni who are in the healthcare profession. Medical staff members Andrew Broadmoore, MD, and Laura Ferguson, MD, attended, as well as Harriett Dickey-Chasins, PhD; Claudia Beckwith, ARNP; and Kun-Hong Lu, LISW. Students really appreciated the time to talk with these healthcare providers on opportunities and challenges. GRMC also hosted displays on integrated therapies, nutrition, blood pressures and glucose tests, and physical therapy.

It was great to see the joint efforts of GRMC and Grinnell College making a difference in the lives of these young people. We especially appreciate the relationship we have established with Jennifer Jacobsen, the new Wellness Coordinator on campus. Jen has been an excellent addition and is committed to making wellness and fitness a priority at Grinnell College. In response to the Wellness Fair, Jen said, “The students really had a fun time and I feel we reached our goal of generating awareness about all the wellness options and resources available to students.”

We certainly look forward to many more opportunities to partner with the College and other organizations in and around Poweshiek County in enhancing the quality of life for all we serve.

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

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

This is YOUR hospital.

I'm going back to Washington, D.C. for the American Hospital Association annual meeting in April and I want to show our Congressional leaders the faces and names of people whose lives have been impacted by Grinnell Regional Medical Center.

Will you help?

Send a photo of yourself and a few lines about why GRMC is your hospital to: GRMC, attention Barbara Hansen, 210 Fourth Avenue, Grinnell, Iowa, 50112. Or email to We'll collect those we receive by March 12 and put them into a format that I can take and show to Members of Congress about why community hospitals like GRMC are vital.

We know that GRMC is your hospital. Now its time to tell your Members of Congress.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Numbers are in and the Winners are… The patients of Grinnell Regional Medical Center!

Let me explain. In 2005 the federal government mandated a new patient satisfaction system be implemented for all hospitals in America referred to as the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, or HCAHPS, for short. The idea was simple, people ought to have a place they can go to see how past patients have rated their perspective on inpatient care at hospitals all across the country. So the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) partnered with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to develop a set of questions that would be asked and measured in the same way from a sample of adult patients across medical conditions at every hospital. They then established a web site with the ongoing results of the survey so anyone can get a sense of the ratings people give after their hospitalization. The most recent download of information on the Hospital Compare website shows GRMC is at the head of the class in almost every category of patient satisfaction for hospitals within a 60-mile radius including the urban hospitals in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City!

We celebrated our HCAHPS success with a “Warm Hearts Lead to GRMC’s Sweet Success.” Employees were invited to enjoy hot cocoa and warm cookies to recognize their dedication.

I am very proud of the women and men who make not only providing the highest quality of care a priority, but also recognize that the service level is equally important. We have some of the most dedicated and talented people around that are proud to call GRMC “their” hospital. Now, what makes this really remarkable is in almost every case, the surrounding hospitals are paid much better than we are for the Medicare and Medicaid patients we are privileged to serve. Don’t get me wrong, if you look at the numbers we are not all that much better than our colleagues around us, however we are better. And if you want to look at national numbers, well there is where all Iowa Hospitals really shine. The fact is we provide the best care in the country here in Iowa and get paid amongst the lowest of any state. That is something to crow about in a world of stress and concern and bad news.

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

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try, Again (and again, and again…)

I just wrapped another trip to our nation’s Capitol with Poweshiek Iowa Development. Read about it here.

This was the fifth-annual trek by to Washington, D.C. Our purpose is to promote greater economic development and jobs. We meet with our elected officials in Washington to talk to our Senators, Congressman, and their staff members. This year’s group included: Grinnell Mayor Gordon Canfield; Shannon McNaul, Grinnell City Council member; and City Manager Russ Behrens; Jack Menner, president, Grinnell Newburg High School Student Government; Brad Hohensee, BGM superintendent; Monica Chavez-Silva, Community Enhancement Coordinator for Grinnell College, Robin Shaffer Lilienthal, Iowa Valley Vice Provost; Liz Queathem Grinnell College professor and Imagine Grinnell board member; Danny Carroll of Iowa Telecom; Chuck Brooke, Executive Director, Iowa Transportation Musuem; and Bill Menner, executive director, Poweshiek County Development.

This year, Newton Mayor Chaz Allen and Jerry Jauron, President, Iowa Speedway joined us on the trip.

Bill Menner created an excellent document that outlines the issues of importance that we discussed with our elected officials.

As you might imagine, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement was also on the agenda. Read more about why this is an issue for GRMC here.

The GRMC emergency department saved Shannon’s daughter’s life when she was five weeks old. Today, Shannon’s daughter is a healthy and happy seven-year-old girl. The Mayor speaks of the economic impact of 460 employees and $27 million in payroll and benefits in our local economy. Monica reflects on the value of a good healthcare system on faculty and staff recruitment at Grinnell College. All these testimonies build a compelling case for our Members of Congress to address this injustice. I am greatly appreciative of our community leaders to make the case that something must be done to protect all we have done to create such an outstanding medical center over the years.

Last month, Rep. Boswell and Sen. Grassley re-introduced legislation from the previous session of Congress to begin to address this problem. Now we build support and work to get co-sponsors from other states also affected by “tweener” payment issues. There are also provisions in the current economic stimulus package being debated in the Senate that would also be helpful to rural community hospitals like GRMC.

Iowa’s community hospitals are critical to the ongoing success of our economy, and the quality of life we all work hard for and enjoy. Thanks again to my fellow citizens who took their precious time and resources to travel to D.C. and make their voices heard. I believe the people of Poweshiek County deserve to have their hospital paid at a reasonable level and similar to other hospitals in Iowa and throughout the country. I believe we made a difference.

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