Monday, August 24, 2009

More than just healthcare

Every year, the Iowa Hospital Association collects data from all 117 Iowa hospitals and creates a report outlining the various community benefit services and programs that we provide individually and collectively.

This is always timely information, but even more important this year because nonprofit hospitals are being studied by members of Congress to determine if the community benefit we provide is worth our tax-exempt status.

Even though GRMC continues to struggle with finances, the organization provided nearly $9.5 million in free or uncompensated care as well as services and programs for the greater community. Many, if not all, of these benefits would not happen if GRMC were not providing them. The Community Care Clinic, bike helmets for area third graders, the Senior Education (SE*ED) program, are just a few of those activities.

In 2008, GRMC provided $7 million in uncompensated charity care, unpaid Medicare and Medicaid services, and more than $2 million in free or discounted community benefits for area residents.

GRMC's 440 employees also provide volunteer leadership in literally hundreds of community organizations. From Boy Scout troops to service clubs; Little League teams to community blood drives; Sunday School classes to school boards, our team members are a source of inspiration, perspiration, and innovation for many organizations at the national, state, and local levels. As for the executive team, Suzanne Cooner leads disaster response programs and is a past chair of the Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce. Dave Ness serves on both the Imagine Grinnell and Galaxy Youth Center boards. For me, I serve on the Grinnell College board of trustees.

GRMC enjoys a strong relationship with the communities in our area who rely on this organization to be here when needed. And you can't put a value on that.

What do you think? I'd be interested to know.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Guest Column: A Farewell to Friends

Tomorrow marks the end of my summer journey at Grinnell Regional Medical Center. What a journey it’s been. Reflecting back on my very first day, I remember my first meeting was at 11 a.m. and Lanna Princer, executive assistant, walked me down to the conference room. I sat around the table, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, as the entire group of department heads began filtering in. Todd was at a meeting in a nearby town, so there wasn’t a familiar face in sight. They recognized a guest in the room and one-by-one went around introducing themselves. I introduced myself as Rachel Cain, a graduate student at the University of Iowa who would be interning under Mr. Linden for the summer. At that time I didn’t realize the family-like atmosphere of the organization and that nobody referred to anybody as Mr. this or Ms. that. Well, I quickly learned.

Walking around the hallways today to wrap things up and say my goodbyes, I realize how much of an impact this organization has had on me. In only 12 short weeks I have learned what it means to be part of a community hospital. Nobody can walk down the hallways of this hospital and not have at least three people greet them with a smile and a hello. This is something that I will be taking with me as I leave.

I’d like to run through a few of the things that stick out in my mind about my experience at GRMC. When I first met with Mark Doll, director of facilities, he took me around the facility to show me all of the mechanical equipment it takes to run a hospital. We even went onto the roof and went inside one of the ventilator rooms, which was quite a unique experience. I spent a few days with the hospice group and was able to hear some great insights from Susan, the hospice chaplain, about end of life care and life in general. There was one particular hospice patient that I will never forget and am thankful that I had the opportunity to meet. Watching the surgical procedures in the OR was fascinating and for a second they had me thinking I wanted to switch gears and become a surgeon! Well, that urge passed… I think I’ll stick with my words and numbers (for now at least). I always looked forward to the administrative team meetings every week; I was fascinated by the wide range of topics up for discussion and the way the team dealt with anything that came their way. The Green Team meetings and initiatives were near and dear to my heart and I will miss those interactions immensely. Don’t forget to recycle, now!

Most of all I appreciate the relationships I developed with all of the wonderful people at this institution. There is something special going on within the walls of this hospital. Thank you, Grinnell Regional Medical Center, for a fabulous summer and a great learning experience. Most importantly, thank you for your kindness and compassion you showed to me throughout the summer. Ciao!

Rachel Cain, GRMC administrative intern

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

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Guest Column: It's Getting Easier to Be Green

There are a few (dozen) things that I am passionate about in this life. The list ranges from acoustic music and good reads to cage-free eggs and great tasting fair-trade coffee. Somewhere along the road I also developed a keen interest in the importance and implications of living in a sustainable manner. Now, I’m not as “environmentally-friendly” as I aspire to be – this morning I drove my boyfriend’s truck to work which averages 15 miles per gallon and yesterday I ran my dryer with only a few articles of clothing in it. However, I know that I am doing my part to contribute to a healthier planet and I genuinely believe that I can make a difference. With this in mind, you can understand why I was delighted to find out that Grinnell Regional Medical Center has a Green Team established to pursue green initiatives. I could not wait to sign up!

Now, before I digress about the importance of recycling and reducing our overall consumption, let me talk a little about the Green Team here at GRMC and what they have accomplished thus far. The Green Team consists of representatives from many departments including nutrition services, facilities, environmental services, public relations, health improvement, corporate health, and other interested individuals. A number of steps have been taken in recent months to further environmentally-friendly practices at GRMC, although you may not have noticed! The sharps containers have been exchanged for reusable containers, which reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills. Mercury has been nearly eliminated, and the housekeeping department has switched to microfiber mops. These new mops reduce water and chemical usage, a double win for the environment. All cleaning products have been switched to GreenSeal-certified, EcoLogo-certified or environmentally-preferred products. The engineering services department has implemented systematic lighting upgrades, which consists of new fixtures and light bulbs that require 25 percent fewer bulbs. Another exciting change is the addition of Velcro boiler jackets to the heating system which contain the heat and help to reduce energy use. This project is going to be featured in the Alliant Energy Green Calendar for 2010. The garage sale that was held earlier in the Spring also served the purpose of the Green Team by allowing GRMC to free itself of unwanted furniture and other equipment without sending objects to the landfill.

The Green Team has high ambitions for the next phase. Currently, steps are being taken to expand the recycling efforts at the medical center. There are hopes of sometime soon placing recycling receptacles around the hospital for plastic, glass, aluminum and paper recycling. The medical center is in the middle of recycling its e-waste that was stored off-campus (computers, printers, fax machines, etc.)—last Thursday members of the Green Team and the IS department spent the afternoon getting a little sweaty (and dirty) loading electronic equipment into a trailer headed for a recycling company. We had a lot of laughs, and a lot of near-misses with the lurking spiders! There will be a second round of e-waste recycling in the near future. E-waste recycling is a great way to keep electronics out of the landfills where harmful chemicals would eventually leach into the soil. Below is a picture of the group that lent some muscles to the e-cause.

The Green Team is also looking into opportunities to reduce the amount of Styrofoam used in the hospital, which is suspected of causing several health concerns and is a substantial portion of the hospital’s waste. In the future, the Green Team would like to embark upon projects such as the elimination of PVC/DEHP, blue wrap recycling in the OR, and an increase in the purchase of local foods.

I have had a fantastic time working with the members of the Green Team at GRMC and I know that they will continue furthering the environmental stewardship of the organization. The healthcare environment as a whole is beginning to embrace green initiatives in an effort to promote overall healthy and healing environments. Green practices show a commitment to the health of patients, employees, the community and the planet – the same four things that this institution is highly devoted to serving.

Rachel Cain, GRMC administrative intern

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