Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Day in the Life of a Hospital Administrator

Everyday can be busy, some more than others. Here’s a recent rundown of an interesting day in my life. It started as most do - a brisk walk with my dog Winston and dropping him off at that the dog sitter’s. Then it was on to my second Grinnell Chamber of Commerce Board meeting. Seems the Chamber was one of the last economic development boards I had not had the opportunity to serve on. So when asked by our relatively new (one year) executive director about my interest, I decided to give it a try. We passed our 2010 budget, approved new bylaws, and employee manual. It was a good meeting!

Returning to the office to catch up on phone calls and email, a never-ending job as I typically receive from 150 to 200 emails a day, not including spam. Next on the agenda was a meeting with our team working to get a new MRI for the medical center. It was a very productive meeting to plan our next steps and created a critical path of activity so that a final proposal can be presented to our board.

Next, I attended a luncheon with our new visiting perinatologist, Dr. Neil Mandsager and the obstetric section to discuss his new clinic in Grinnell. This opportunity came through our affiliation with the Mercy Health Network and we are excited to bring this new level of service to our community in the form of a bi-monthly clinic.

After lunch, I crossed to the other conference room for a meeting of our newly formed ad hoc task force on physician recruitment. This task force is made up of medical staff members and GRMC board members. On this day, we were joined by Dr. Daniel Vande Lune, orthopedic surgeon with the Iowa Orthopaedic Center, the IOC CEO, and a vice-president from Mercy Health Network. Currently, we have three days per week of orthopedic coverage while we are working with IOC to recruit a full-time orthopedic surgeon to Grinnell. We reviewed recruitment plans and discussed the addition of a new physician’s assistant, Scott Peery, PA-C, to work with Dr. Vande Lune in Grinnell and Pella.

Back to the office for some final board meeting prep (and more email…ugh) and a couple quick meetings with various department directors and VPs. At 5 p.m., the executive committee of our board of directors meets prior to the monthly meeting of the full board. The officers of the board make up the executive committee and Susan Witt, our board chair, leads the meeting. We have dinner together as the full board and then meet from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The time goes by quickly as we have a full agenda and lively discussion on most all of the topics. Besides approving both our operating and capital budgets, we also discussed progress with MRI project and plans for our Physical and Occupational Therapy department improvements.

The day was not done at 9:30, however. I hold open forum meetings with our employees on a quarterly basis. These town hall-style meetings include updates from me on important GRMC strategic initiatives, such as reports on our quality activities, our finances, and physician recruiting. There is also plenty of time for employees to ask questions, make comments, and voice concerns. Typically there are six to eight meetings over a two-week period at different times of the day and night. So on this day, the open forum was for the night shift. Because of the staffing levels at night, I move throughout the medical center going to the employees gathering around nurse’s stations in small groups. I always enjoy the night shift meetings.

On this night, I stopped in the ER first about 10:30 p.m. and then worked my way around the hospital. At about midnight I stopped back in the ER on my way out and noticed quite a lot of activity. I ended up staying for about an hour lending a hand to our staff as there were two critical patients and a helicopter was coming in.

Adding to the mix was a call from the fire alarm monitoring center following up on a system “trouble” alert. The security staff person and I discovered a sensor that needed attention that could wait until the next day.

About 1 a.m., things were well under control, the patients got the expert care they needed and I headed home. The 17- hour day, went by very quickly. Although I was certainly tired, I felt satisfied that GRMC was making a difference in the lives of the people we serve. And my dog Winston had a sleepover at the dog sitter on this particular day in the life of a hospital administrator!

1 comment:

Jane Sherwin said...

Todd, I especially like your remarks about being with the night shift. I once wrote an article about life at night in Faulkner Hospital here in the Boston area and it was clear that this was a special group of people--not only did they have different sleep rhythms from the rest of us, but they had a very strong sense of being part of a special team, when smaller staffing means an even greater need to work together.