Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hospital D-I-Y

We’re in the midst of renovating several areas of the hospital. The areas are all visible to patients and visitors. We’re finding the renovation process kind of like one of those domino sculptures you may have seen on TV. One domino can’t fall until another one does.

We’re working our way to the ultimate goal of a much needed expansion and renovation of our physical therapy department. To get there, however, we’ve had to create the new Neon Café, so that we could make room for the human resources and volunteer departments to move, so that we can get to the physical therapy department via the current human resources department, and the old Tyson room… Sounds complicated, but it’s not.

So, how are we doing this given our budget constraints? Like you do at home: we do-it-ourselves.

We have some awesome folks making great spaces at GRMC. If you look around you see their handiwork everywhere including: the Tomasek Conference Room, Mitchell Meditation Room, The Glass Gift Box, and the new lab waiting and lobby area. Each of these new spaces is expertly constructed largely by our in-house staff. Now they have added the Neon Café to their list of recently renovated spaces. But they aren’t sitting back on their accomplishments. Work continues on the new human resources department offices at the northeast employee entrance of the hospital.

I’m proud of our staff and the work they do to help us maintain and improve on our facilities for our patients, visitors, and staff.

Monday, March 16, 2009

HCAHPS is Just the Beginning

Recently I commented that the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, or HCAHPS, report has ranked GRMC very well on patient satisfaction from data collected in the patient experience survey. This excellent rating comes only after the hard work of many people helping to create an environment that fosters employee ownership.

Some of the success comes by building a culture where education supports great service such as our Compassion In Action program. This seven-year journey has a simple mission statement:
“Our way to create and enhance a service excellence journey to build patient loyalty, promote teamwork, and celebrate the joy of caring.”

Other focus areas include our Pursuit of Pride survey, where employees have told us to do a better job of holding people accountable for their performance and attitudes. Overthe last several years, a great deal of effort incorporated our values into the job descriptions and evaluation process. Integrity, compassion, cooperative spirit, innovation, and service are now part of the way we evaluate and reward our staff.

Finally, we have spent time thinking about and implementing a more healing environment. From our meditation room to the healing garden, the bird aviary to the art collection, integrated health to fitness and wellness, we have worked hard to create a better healing environment for both our patients and employees. All these efforts make a difference for our mission and the folks that carry it out on a daily basis.

I will also tell you that we are not resting on our laurels, no indeed. We know we can do even better. These survey results give us insights into where we can put new energy and efforts to improve on our current great work. We know we are not perfect and when delivering something as personal, complex, and expensive as healthcare there will always be opportunities for getting better. And that is one of the reasons I have called GRMC home for more than 15 years. Way to go team! I am proud of you!

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

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

GRMC Board “Advancing”!

Friday and Saturday, February 13-14, the GRMC Board of Directors held its annual “Board Advance” at the Postels Community Health Park in downtown Grinnell. What is a board advance? It is a two-day meeting formerly called a “retreat.” The purpose of the meeting is to primarily focus on the future of GRMC and do our strategic planning and so it dawned on us we ought to call it an “advance” instead of a “retreat”!

We use a 12- to 24-month rolling strategic planning approach and usually spend the first hour reviewing the performance of the organization in the prior year. For details on the success and challenges of 2008 you can refer to my “Good Bye 2008” blog posted earlier this year. The rest of the meeting is focused on looking forward and deciding on the priorities of how we are going to spend our time, energy and resources advancing the mission of the medical center.

We spend time in small group discussions on topics such as building on our “Optimal Healing Environment” and big projects including the acquisition of major clinical technology. We also discussed advancing our Blueprint for Health (name for our last major capital fund drive that netted a whopping $8.2 million) projects such as the physical and occupational therapy department renovation and expansion. We discussed the ongoing success of our quest to be a national leader in quality, patient safety and service excellence. It was also enjoyable discussing the strong culture we have of employee ownership in the mission of GRMC as evidenced by our impressive patient satisfaction scores.

The board also spent time evaluating its own performance both collectively and individually. The survey tool we have used was discussed and our Trustee Organization and Education Committee plans to revise the survey and process we have used the past several years. We identified several areas of focus for education and improvement activities for best practice governance for the coming year.

On Saturday, members of the medical staff leadership team joined the board for in-depth review of our physician recruitment plan and discussion about our relationship with other hospitals in Iowa. Four physicians serve on the board and along with members of the medical staff executive committee and section chiefs, there was excellent representation from our medical staff. GRMC enjoys a very strong relationship between its board, medical staff and administration. This is key to good strategic planning.

I am so very thankful for community leaders willing to donate their precious time and talents to the mission of Grinnell Regional. We are blessed with talented and committed women and men that believe in what we do and that we are there when people need us. We definitely “advanced” our cause and I am very optimistic we will continue to make a difference to the people we are privileged to serve.

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

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

You Never Know Who You Might Meet

While I was in Washington, D.C., recently, I had a few interesting moments.

The first night, I was waiting in the hotel bar waiting to meet other NRAC (National Rural Advisory Committee) members for dinner. Two people sat down next to me and were discussing restaurants in the area and they asked the bartender if he had heard of a particular hot spot. He had not, so they asked me and I reported that although I had heard of the restaurant, I had not dined there. It seemed to me that they were looking for recommendations, so I pulled out the list of about 20 restaurants the concierge had printed off for me and began to point out places where I had eaten in the past and which ones I thought they might enjoy. The gentleman then inquired about what I thought about the hotel and I said I thought it was a great place to stay. This is the hotel the government uses for the NRAC when we are in D.C. for this meeting. He smiled and told me he was glad to hear I liked the place, since he was the general manager! The hotel was the Sofitel, a French hotel. He then bought me a glass of wine and we had a delightful conversation until my colleagues arrived.

The next day, I was leaving the meeting room on the second floor and was invited into one of the elevators with the general manager and two other gentlemen. He greeted me and asked me how my dinner was the night before. I told him it was excellent and went on to say with a smile that we had eaten in his restaurant. The other men were speaking French. The elevator abruptly stopped and the control panel went dark. We were stuck! One of the men in the elevator with us was the French ambassador to the United States. He had just given a speech to the media down the hall from our meeting room. We engaged in a wonderful conversation about our new president and his popularity in Europe, French versus California wine (we agreed to disagree on which was better), and his take on the global economy. Meanwhile, the general manager nervously talked in French on his cell phone to his maintenance staff outside feverishly trying to open the door.

At one point the lights went off so all four of us powered on our cell phones to light up the elevator. I showed them a silly picture I had taken the day before of the U.S. Capitol when I was on the Hill meeting with staff members of our congressional delegation on building support for the legislation they have introduced on the “Tweener” Medicare payment issues. I explained I tried to take the roof off the Capitol to see if Mr. Obama was inside!

The maintenance staff opened the door about 40 minutes later and we were all pulled up and out of the elevator which had been stuck between floors. I saw the general manager again later that evening and he bought me another glass of wine with a twinkle in his eye and said although he had never been stuck in an elevator before, he was sure glad to have been in there since the ambassador was on board. I must admit, I was glad to have been there as well, because it is not everyday a country boy from Iowa gets to have a one-on-one conversation with an ambassador!

On my flight home from Washington, Karen and Jim Nussle were on the same flight. Unlike the French ambassador, I do know Jim pretty well going back to his days as the U.S. Congressman from northeast Iowa. We worked together on a number of rural health issues. He was a member of Congress that truly cared about rural healthcare, understood the issues, and was a strong voice. I had not had a chance to talk with him much since has appointment as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. You know; the guy responsible for helping to draft the federal budget and responsible for managing the largest financial enterprise in the world…the U.S. Government! Basically he was the CFO for America. We talked between flights for about a half hour and I was just mesmerized as he talked about daily meetings with the President…sitting in Situation Room at least one day a week. He was in the room for every major decision made by the President over the last couple of years!

For a government wonk like me, the conversation was tantalizing. What was President Bush really like? How about Chaney? Jim was gracious and friendly as always and seemed to enjoy talking about it all in past tense. I asked if he was relieved to be out from what must have been overwhelming stress and a look of relief spread across his face. He did say it was absolutely fascinating…the understatement of the week!

You just never know who you might run into when traveling to our nation’s Capitol…for me it was a very memorable 24 hours.

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

Representing Rural Healthcare in Washington

I was in Washington, D.C., recently for a meeting of the National Rural Advisory Committee of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is my second year serving on this committee and I am starting to get a little better handle on it. I agreed to serve on this committee because it is an opportunity to work in the executive branch of the federal government. Most of my activities over the years have been in the legislative branch. It is my hope is to have some impact on how HHS views rural healthcare.

Each year we study topics important to rural America regarding health care and human services. Then we prepare a report to the Secretary of HHS in conjunction with the staff of the Federal Office of Rural Health. Each committee member serves on a task force relating to one of the topics. I am chairing the task force on Provider Integration. Our focus will be to look at payment policy and regulatory matters that are barriers to integration of care in rural communities. We will certainly also keep in mind the impact of the stimulus package and ramping up of discussions on healthcare reform as we study provider integration. It is a rather exciting time to be part of these discussions and I look forward to our work through out the year.

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