Friday, May 28, 2010

What the Heck is Zumba?

The newest fitness craze is an “aerobics” like class called Zumba, fired up with Latin music! And we have it at GRMC at Fly High Fitness Studio. I decided to check it out. You can see the results on this short video here. But I better warn you, I am not much of a dancer!

Although you can be the judge, I did start to get the hang of it as the class progressed. Much like the insecure guys in the movie “The Full Monty,” my confidence improved as I started to loosen up and enjoy the music. Of course, unlike those guys in “The Full Monty,” I kept my clothes on. In fact, I even borrowed a pair of special Zumba pants from the class instructor, Tiffany, just to get the total experience. Speaking of Tiffany, she is a great instructor. I appreciate her letting me crash her class so I could see firsthand what fun a fitness class can be.

You will also note in the photo and video clip a rather large, bearded man next to me. (And yes, Dr. Levy, he still has his beard!) That is Kyle, my University of Iowa College of Public Health graduate student intern for the summer. You might recall seeing him in my Washington, DC, post from a few weeks ago! What a good sport to join me in checking out Zumba.

Tiffany asked me on my way out the door after class: “Am I going to see you now each week for a dance lesson?” Although I did not commit on the spot, I do see why folks love Zumba. It is a 45-minute workout that goes by very quickly, and I have to admit it was a lot of fun. I don’t suspect the video of me dancing is going to be the next YouTube craze, but if we could get those babies selling stock services in those cute commercials to try Zumba, we might just have something! I also suspect I am going to get some ribbing and a lot of snickering from many of my colleagues at GRMC.

Join the party!

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

Friday, May 21, 2010

Honoring a Special Nurse…

Last year, Grinnell Regional Medical Center lost a wonderful person who was a gifted nurse and a great human being. She died of breast cancer at a young age. Linda served as an RN at GRMC from 1993 to 2008. She not only touched many patients’ lives, but all who knew her. She was a role model and mentor for many nurses beginning their careers.

Linda was honored by her fellow GRMC nurses and friends recently as they came together to plant a Rose of Sharon bush in her memory in the hospital’s healing garden. A stone with her name engraved lift up Linda to all who visit the healing garden. She enjoyed gardening and tended a Rose of Sharon in her own yard.

Nurses shared many stories of Linda that reminded us how much she is missed. It also gave us a chance to thank each other. This was a wonderful moment during National Nurses’ Week, a time when we honor nurses for the tireless and caring work they do to bring healing and comfort to thousands of Americans every day. We are fortunate to have so many skilled and compassionate nurses and nurses’ aides at GRMC.

Linda loved being a nurse and she loved life. We miss her and now have a special place in our garden to remember her wit, smile, talents, and friendship. She continues to be an inspiration to us all.

The photo below shows an excellent nursing team we are proud to work with.

Doris Rindels, Assistant Vice President
and Todd Linden

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

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Must See Movie

The first two weeks of May are set aside to highlight National Nurses Week and National Hospital Week. This year is especially important as 2010 is the International Year of the Nurse. As I have shared before, HeartMath plays a vital role in my life and in the culture of our organization. HeartMath created a special video to honor nurses and care givers everywhere. I am proud of the care that the nurses at GRMC provide to our patients. The authenticity of their care inspires all of us to live more from our hearts and share more care in our lives. This is a beautiful three-minute experience that we hope you will watch to appreciate the true care that healthcare staff bring to their jobs everyday.

Click here to view the video.

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

Friday, May 14, 2010

National Hospital Week – A time to celebrate!

Each year hospitals across America take time to celebrate our missions of caring for the communities we serve and GRMC is no exception. Our Celebration Council takes great pride in planning a week-long festival to commemorate the passion and pride we all take in meeting the healthcare needs of those we are privileged to serve. Yes, that’s right; we have a committee of employees who do nothing but think about reasons to have a party! This year the Celebration Council organized a book fair on Monday; raffle drawing on Tuesday and chair massages and other treatments from our integrated health therapists (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday); the Annual Parish Breakfast on Wednesday; jean day on Thursday and a jewelry fair on Friday!

Todd Linden serves pancakes during the Annual Parish Breakfast.

It is great to stop and take a moment to reflect on the privilege we have of caring for people at some of life’s most important moments. For some it is the excitement of the birth of a child and for others it is the care and compassion at the end of life. It can be the amazing technology and skills of modern medicine that cures disease or the subtle healing nature of integrative health therapies that makes the difference for someone. Each and every person at GRMC makes a difference in the lives of our patients and their families. We couldn’t do it without the hundreds of volunteers that help to lead our boards and committees, staff the gift shop and deliver the flowers, or donate resources to our cause. Our medical staff is second to none and it is their dedication to excellence that sets us apart.

During this national celebration, I want to take this opportunity to say a sincere thank you to all the people who make GRMC the special place it is. Happy National Hospital Week!

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

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Grinnell College…One of America’s Great Liberal Arts Colleges

For the better part of the past decade, I have had the privilege of serving on the Grinnell College board of trustees. What a fabulous experience! Grinnell College is the rock of our community. GRMC has certainly benefited over the years—both tangibly and intangibly—through relationships with the college.

In early May, the college board held its spring meeting on campus. A special highlight of this meeting was the celebration known as Selah. Orchestrated by the college’s past board chair, Nord Brue, Selah offered a time to pause and take stock of the excellence that Grinnell College has been, currently enjoys, and will be in the future.

We especially enjoyed celebrating the “fourth” rebuilding of the college with outgoing President Russell Osgood. During the 12 years with Russell at the helm, the college has constructed many new buildings. As vice-chair of the buildings and grounds committee, I have enjoyed watching it unfold. A fine arts center, four new dorms, a major addition to the science building, a new campus center, and an athletic and fitness complex, along with several major renovations have all been accomplished in a fiscally prudent manner. We have also witnessed growth in the college’s academic and financial strength. This is a tribute to not just Russell, but also to the faculty, staff, board members, and students.

As Russell departs to teach around the world and return to the Osgood home in New England, we welcome the 13th Grinnell College president. Dr. Raynard Kington is the current deputy director of the National Institutes of Health. He holds a medical degree from the University of Michigan and an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. from the Wharton School of Business. We are excited about Dr. Kington and his family coming to Grinnell this summer to start his tenure at Grinnell. The GRMC medical community is looking forward to the opportunity to interact with Dr. Kington and his partner, Peter Daniolos, M.D. Dr. Daniolos is a child psychiatrist currently practicing at Children’s National Medical Center. He is also on the faculty at George Washington University.

I’d also like to share an interesting side note from the meeting. I am one of a few trustees on the board who is not an alum. At the student forum, we heard five outstanding presentations from student groups. The Scarlet and Black (the student newspaper), snapped a photo of me with several students after the presentations. The photo appeared on the front page of the newspaper with the caption “trustee Todd Linden ’85.” Although I received my undergraduate degree in 1985, it was from the University of Iowa. I have found myself hoping that my name will be called with the rest of the Grinnell College graduates this year. But I will not hold my breath. The S&B does not have that kind of authority!

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Message of Appreciation and Hope to Our Nation’s Capitol

US Capitol on a bright blue spring day in Washington, D.C.

This was no ordinary trip to Washington, D.C. On many of my previous trips to the nation’s capital, my message was one of deep concern. I pleaded for a change in the way middle-sized rural hospitals like Grinnell Regional Medical Center receive reimbursement under the Medicare system.

This month’s trip to the Beltway found me with a skip in my step and a message of THANKS. We finally prevailed in getting the “tweener” issue addressed as part of this year’s historic and massive healthcare reform bill. For a description of the “tweener” issue, please see these past blogs.

Deep in the belly of the legislation lays a tweak of the Medicare reimbursement formula. The change will result in much needed relief from the unfair payment scheme we have experienced for many years. Beginning in 2011, GRMC should see about $750,000 in improved payment from the federal government for caring for our Medicare patients. That is truly welcomed news because we were paid $2.5 million below our costs for this care in 2009! This benefit will not only help GRMC. It will also help hundreds of other 25- to 50-bed hospitals across rural America.

Todd Reding, chair of GRMC’s Foundation Board Chair and a member of our Board of Directors, and Kyle Wilcox, a University of Iowa graduate student in health management and policy, joined me on the trip to the Hill. Our primary focus was to say thank you to both of Iowa’s Senators and to two of GRMC’s Congressmen.

Even though Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) did not vote in favor of the bill, we took the time to thank him. The reality is, the “tweener” payment improvement plan started in the Senate Finance Committee where he is ranking member. Michael Park, Grassley’s staffer for the committee focused on Medicare, was extremely helpful on this issue early in the process.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) championed this cause, too. In his important role as chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, he had a lot to say about healthcare reform. His staffer, Jenelle Krisnamoorthy, fought the good fight during difficult negotiations with delegations from larger states not interested in sharing scarce resources.

Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA) and his healthcare assistant, Katy Siddall, worked hard on the House side to make sure the Senate bill’s tweener language was not changed during reconciliation. Rep. Boswell also helped orchestrate a meeting with both our senators in 2008 to brainstorm ways to get “tweener” legislation moved ahead given their leadership roles in the U.S. Senate.

Todd Linden and Todd Reding presenting board
resolution of thanks and photo to Congressman Boswell

We also thanked our “adopted” representative, Bruce Braley (D-IA). The Congressman was born at GRMC, and his mother lives in nearby Brooklyn. Rep. Braley and his staffer, Mike Goodman, described to us their 2:30 a.m. victory in the Speaker’s office the day of the historic vote on healthcare reform. The victory? The start toward “value based purchasing” and the government recognizing the geographic variation in payment needs to be addressed in the Medicare system! Rep. Braley helped get $800 million dollars added to the reform package during reconciliation to prop up payment around the nation to the lowest reimbursed physicians and hospitals providing high quality care!

Todd Reding presented each of these leaders with a special resolution from the GRMC board expressing our appreciation for their efforts to bring a little equity into the Medicare payment system. Their efforts make it possible for us to continue to provide the care people deserve in Grinnell and other middle sized rural hospitals in Iowa and around the country. Todd also gave each of them a photograph taken after one of our Senior Education Center meetings. The picture includes many folks who helped communicate the need for change with our delegation over the years. This group of seniors is emblematic of the very people this legislation will help. (See photo and board resolution)

Of course, the fight is not over yet. A great deal of uncertainty exists in the overall healthcare reform bill. Potential potholes could detract from our future abilities to deliver the care people need. Yet, it was great to take time to pause, reflect, and give thanks for an epic battle to create some equity in the payment flaw that has plagued us over the past half dozen years.

Todd Reding with Jenelle Kristnamoorthy with Healthcare
Reform Bill which contains fixes for the “tweener” payment issue

Incidentally, it was Kyle’s first trip to Washington, D.C. What a great education for a young man just starting his career in healthcare leadership. In addition to meeting all of our Congressional delegation and their health staff members, he also heard some great presentations from the American Hospital Association, visited a few monuments and museums, peeked at the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, and ate some great food. (For those concerned about costs, I should note that I paid for Kyle’s trip and split costs for my trip with the hospital, the American Hospital Association, and myself.) I also have to admit I felt just a bit safer wandering around Washington with Kyle by my side—this high school and college football standout still has some size on him!

Intern Kyle Wilcox extracting funds from the “US Senate Money Machine”

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

Friday, May 7, 2010

Bluestones Touch Our Hearts

This past week, Rebecca and Robert Bluestone touched a chord deep within my soul. Rebecca is an unbelievably talented silk weaver. Robert is an amazing classical guitar player. Rebecca is also an ovarian cancer survivor and cared for her mother during the last six months of her life after a breast cancer diagnosis. Robert was Rebecca’s caregiver during her life-saving treatment.

Their “Woven Harmony” project originated from a unique collaboration at the University of Iowa with Hancher Auditorium, the College of Public Health, and the Holden Cancer Center. A journey across Iowa, “Woven Harmony” included stops in Spencer, Algona, Des Moines, Grinnell, and Davenport. Over the past several weeks, Rebecca and Robert spent three days in each of these communities conducting workshops and performances. Using their “stringed instruments” of loom and guitar, they delighted audiences and inspired healthcare workers with the beauty of their art.

In Grinnell, they started at GRMC with two workshops attended by more than a hundred staff members. Of course, staff met their message of art and healing with enthusiasm and a kindred spirit. Art has been a part of GRMC’s optimal healing environment for many years. The Bluestones offered yet another example of how soulful music and exquisite visual art can enhance modern medicine.

Rebecca and Robert also provided workshops at the Grinnell Newburg High School and Grinnell College. More than 200 students experienced Rebecca and Robert’s artistry. During these presentations, the couple shared how the arts can add to the creative spirit that dwells within us all. The duo capped off their three days in Grinnell with an inspirational performance entitled “Celebrating Community” at the Voertman Theater. It was a special treat for me to have my son, Grant, (also a gifted guitarist) and my parents, Judith and Chuck, attend the performance with me. My mother is also a cancer survivor. With Mother’s Day coming up, it was extra special to enjoy the message and beauty of the Bluestones together.

Everyone who experienced Robert and Rebecca’s talent and compassion were inspired to care a little deeper, think a little clearer, and live a little richer. I look forward to future collaboration with this extraordinary couple on their mission to change the world. Thank you, Bluestones for touching my heart.

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

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Taking the opportunity to look inside the department that looks inside!

This week I had a chance to visit our imaging department, often referred to as “radiology.” This department is certainly one of the “high tech” and very expensive departments at GRMC. It is truly amazing to see what amazing progress there has been over the years in the technology of looking inside our bodies. I watched an abdominal CT scan, upper GI, and Venus Doppler (ultrasound) study. One can’t help but be impressed with how clear the images are and the information now available to our physicians and mid-level providers in making diagnosis and treatment decisions.

As impressive as the machines are, it is the skilled and knowledgeable people working the machines that makes this also a “high touch” department. Obviously, patients and their family members are often worried about what might be wrong when going through these studies. They might be experiencing pain or drinking icky stuff that can also lead to anxiety. Some tests can take several hours. What I observed was a talented team of people working together to take expert pictures while doing so in a courteous and compassionate manner. I had a chance to spend time with Gina, Regina, Kathy, and Terry – all sensational members of the GRMC team!

One of the key members of the team is the radiologist. GRMC is blessed to have an excellent relationship with Iowa Radiology. Several of the radiologists from this large group of doctors based in Des Moines view our images daily for GRMC. Using something called PACS, they now “read” all the studies on computer and the x-ray film is a thing of the past. Literally minutes after the exam is completed a radiologist reviews the exam and is able to offer a report electronically to the referring physician and ultimately the patient. Really cool stuff.

I was reminiscing with one of the tech, who has been at GRMC for 18 years, about the days when stacks of films were piled in the radiologist offices waiting to be read. We would have to store the film and make copies for referring physicians or patients. Those certainly were not the “good old days”!

As we prepare to bring a new MRI unit into the department, it is great to look around the GRMC imaging department and marvel at what modern medicine is now capable of showing. It will be very interesting to see what the next 10 to 20 years will bring in our capabilities to look inside our bodies!

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