Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Catching Up . . .

February 11, 2009

Catching up… an opportunity and two letters from January.

Yesterday one of our out patient guests called to suggest we do something about improving the
parking for patients and visitors of our professional office building on Arch and State. The good news is, it is very busy with many patients and visitors coming and going… the bad news is, sometimes the folks who shouldn’t walk far (particularly in inclement weather) are parked in spots that are the farthest away from the entry doors.

Although we hand out information throughout the campus about our Shuttle Service, many of our patients and guests are still not aware of how to take advantage of that service. Dan, who is the most frequent driver of our shuttle (which is a white Toyota Scion), carries a cell phone,330-417-5454. If you call him from your parking spot, he will pick you up and drop you off at the entrance which is most convenient to you. At the conclusion of your service, you can ask an ACH colleague to call Dan and he will bring you back to your car.

In January, one of our patients (J.W.) wrote, “Dear Mr. Jonas: During the night my temperature rose to a disturbing level and my nurse called a 'rapid response'…a team brought me back to normal with compassionate and loving professionalism…I ask that you express my appreciation to all the registered nurses, aides, and clinical technicians who treated me with great respect and skill…also commend your housekeepers who were also very friendly and caring. I would be remiss not to include Dietary who accommodated my special needs…(what a) wonderful hospital staff for the Alliance Community."

Also in January, our nursing supervisor received a call from the wife of one of our patients. She wanted to tell us about the excellent care that was received in the ER, "especially Dr. Kolb and the nurse that assisted… Dr. McNally picked up with Dr. MkParu.." She wanted all to know how grateful she was.

Hope to talk with you soon.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Thanks to All

February 9th, 2009

C.T. writes:
"During a recent visit to my family in Ohio I became very ill, necessitating a visit to the ER…from the first person who I encountered …to the last person that discharged me, everyone was professional and kind. Lynn was very efficient and so caring…the radio logic technologists were also very professional and used two patient identifiers…I am sorry didn’t catch their names. They were instantly by my side when I needed them due to my medications……the doctor, nurses, and ancillary staff that took care of me were exemplary. Please convey my thanks and praise to all of them."

More Comments about Therapy Services

February 6th, 2009

Once again therapy saves the day! Here are some other positive comments I received:

~D.P. called in to say he was going through a very bad situation until he got to our therapy services…All he could say was "excellent…couldn’t thank Tiffany and Gail enough…they were just super…P.S. what a great laugh Tiffany has!"

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Say What You Mean & Do What You Say

February 6th, 2009

Say what you mean and do what you say … touched and inspired by words of support.

("Everyone can shave a little if they have to...")

Just prior to Christmas 2008 we held special Colleague forums at ACH. Usually, every month for the last 12 years, I have held communication forums through which I update the staff and anyone who works or volunteers at the hospital can ask me questions.

The intent of this special forum was for me to ask people to be conservative in their personal spending as well as watch our hospital expenses. I wanted to share my concerns that 2009 and 2010 may be tough years as we try and turn our economy around. I really didn’t want to have layoffs in the future and wanted to let everyone know that we may need to take actions that would affect people’s incomes, in order to keep Colleagues employed through the tough times ahead.

Personally I told them --as a leader who might be asking them to take time off each month (without pay)-- that I would begin January 1st by voluntarily reducing my income by just under 7%.

We will watch our monthly performance and I will first ask management to take off one day per month. I will give them 30 days notice of putting that into effect. I wanted all staff members to know that leadership needed to step up.

The above is just one example of what we may have to do in 2009. I also stressed that this is a great time of opportunity for us, as well, because of the culture in our organization and the way we practice. We need to be thankful for every time a patient or customer chooses us and puts their faith in our hands with regard to their healthcare needs.

Several weeks after this presentation I was deeply touched by a message I received from one of our Colleagues. They told me they appreciated my actions and they, too, wanted to help. This Colleague makes around $20,000 per year and told me that "everyone can shave a little here and there if they have to," so they wanted to give back $50/month. They said how very much they appreciated their job here and felt they needed to help. too. I told them when the time comes I will take them up on their offer but for the time being, hold off.

As I was writing this blog today I was interrupted by a call from one of our outpatient guests…more to come tomorrow.


A Look Back, A Look Forward; Some Old & Some New

February 5th, 2009

2007 and 2008 have proven to be very challenging years for hospitals and health systems, particularly for those with variable rate municipal bonds and for those seeking access to new capital to continue to replace and upgrade equipment and facilities.

In 2007 the phrase "sub-prime" took on special meaning as many of the risks associated with variable financing that had never previously occurred -- actually happened. For some, interest rates on millions of dollars worth of debt hit double digits (in some cases, going as high as 20%). Fortunately for us at ACH, our rates (not quite) doubled from 3.5% to over 6% and only for about four months. Again in October 2008, for only 9 days, our rates hit 9% and then returned to normal. While many organizations were fully invested in the market, we have been financially conservative (earning our 4-7%) and we have learned to operate on what we make. So, while the market has been devastating to others, we were very fortunate to complete our new campus in 2006 and avoid huge losses in the market in 2008.

I remain optimistic about our future for several reasons:

First and foremost is the spirit of cooperation with our medical staff in terms of finding new ways to support each other and to serve our patients even better. We know in the future there will be shortages of primary care physicians and we have been able to recruit three additional family doctors to serve in Louisville, Alliance, and in new markets to our north. In addition, we have signed two new radiologists and will have, for the first time in a while, a total of three serving our community. We have a great team of dedicated colleagues and volunteers who exemplify the meaning of patient-centered care every day. Below are summaries of some comments from patients or their families that were received before I started my Blog, as well as some very recent ones from this past fall and our winter season:


A pat on the back, a hug and a handshake, who could ask for more…
One of our colleagues was seen walking an elderly gentleman to the lobby. Another colleague overheard the patient say, "You’ve been very kind to me. Thank you so much.” As usual our colleague asked “Is there anything else I or a fellow colleague can do for you?” The patient said no, but as they left he patted our colleague on the back, hugged him and then shook his hand. I was wondering what he might say about his health caring experience, but didn’t have to wonder long because as he was leaving he was already sharing his story with his wife.

A touching moment...
Dear Stan:
I had to write and tell you about a touching moment I had with an elderly gentleman that I discharged from PCU. Before he left the floor, he told me he received excellent care here and that all the nurses were excellent. He wanted me to pass on those words to all the PCU staff. He requested accompaniment down to his car, so I went with him and his two daughters to the car. As he was getting in I shook his hand and thanked him for letting us take care of him and how much we appreciated the opportunity. He looked at me sort of funny and then asked him why I would thank him? I told him that of all the hospitals in the area, he chose Alliance Community Hospital to provide his care. He took my hands(he had tears in his eyes) and he said, "I never looked at it like that, but that is a sweet thing to say and now if I ever need care Ill be back for sure.” Now I know I will not forget to say thank you to my patients.

A donation…December 23, 2004...
Dear Stan,
The enclosed check is in appreciation for the wonderful care I received from your exceptional staff during my recent stay at ACH. Enclosed was a very generous donation to our Foundation.

Health Caring Nurse...
"Kudos to the health caring nurse who [probably didn’t see me observing her as she greeted the person she was caring for with a warm and friendly, "Hi Mrs.____., I am here to help you with your medications." All I saw was an individual who had so much to do on a very busy floor, yet gave an impression of not being rushed at all. She stayed by the bedside and sat for a very brief moment, her patient smiled and thanked her and in the next moment she was off to take care of someone else. How you do things sure does make a difference."

The following was presented to our colleagues early on in our Planetree journey and judging from the comments above, it is the way most of us choose to practice each and every day...

Your Role (As a Member of the ACH Team) is to Create a Great Health Caring Experience;
Find that next right answer to do the extraordinary for just one person, be it a patient or by assisting a fellow colleague

I. All of our patients expect good clinical care.
They come to us because they or their physician have determined they need to be in a safe, comforting environment to receive more medical information or treatment.

II. What most patients are not expecting, and it is surprising how few hospitals still don’t provide them, are the simple courtesies of our five Health Caring Standards:

· Acknowledge their presence in a warm and friendly way
· When appropriate, address by name
· Provide a friendly, timely and comforting discharge or departure
· Thank them for allowing us to care for them
· And most important of all asking them, “Is there anything I or a fellow colleague can do for you?”

III. Think of your role at ACH as a cast member in a play that performs three performances every day, 365 days a year. You have been selected because you possess job skills and knowledge to perform in that role. Every day you’re blessed with an audience; many are new and some audience members are returnees. The best actors on Broadway do what they do each and every day … create special moments - they take their daily routine, which they do over and over again, and make it special over and over again for every audience. Each one of us possesses special talents to go with our job knowledge and skills. Your role is to find a way to express this talent either in your job or on a Planetree Caring Committee and to do something extraordinary for at least one patient/customer or guest a day.

Thanks to all who are making a difference each and every day.



Missed meal...
This past fall, one of our patients was very disappointed the afternoon of their discharge. When asked why they responded that "my favorite meal was ordered for dinner and now I will miss it." Speaks pretty highly regarding our nutritional services department. When our supervisor in the department found out, they contacted the husband and wife and arranged to have their favorite meal delivered to their retirement villa several miles out of town a week later. Now that is service the ACH way.

Jan. 19th, 2009...
Mr. Jonas:
This is a belated and remiss thank you and kudos to all your staff that served my wife and me last June. Carol, one of the nurses and Dr. P. our physician, especially. At any rate, we were continually amazed at the service from each and every department. The office and financial staff answered all our questions about costs and (in advance) worked out a pay schedule. Pre-op informed of what was going to happen and answered our questions very patiently. Jennifer met us in the lobby and was very sympathetic and helped ease our anxieties. Nursing and the therapists were attentive and gentle, yet assertive with their expertise and still flexible in working with us. The chapel, outdoor gardens and lobbies were peaceful. Our room was clean and full of amenities. And yes, the cafeteria food was diverse, well prepared and delicious. Of all the services (and perhaps the most surprising) welcome was the Concierge service. The concept of welcoming and orienting the clients could not have been executed more faithfully. Our stay exceeded our expectations in every way and could not have been better. The quality and depth of your facility’s mission was evident in every aspect of the facilities and services. We have raved about our exceptional experience that eased a health crisis into a very good and memorable time of challenge. Please pass this thanks on to all.

Cardiac Team...
I am writing to compliment two members of your Cardiac Rehabilitation Team, Kelly and Dave. My interaction with them has been very positive and I wanted to make sure you knew how important they have been. Kelly’s sincere interest in my personal medical situation put me at ease…She went out of her way to explain details…her medical knowledge was impressive…Dave was awesome when it came to the physical aspect…thanks to his personal attention I was able to stop all pain meds within a month and am now pain free…they genuinely practice “quality patient care” in every aspect of what they do.

Dear. Dr. M:
First of all, I just want to say thank you. I deeply appreciated your expertise and good judgment. Would you also thank your associate Dr. H. for he helped me assuage my fears by his kindness… overall my experience at Alliance Community Hospital was 5-star…a wonderful staff.
From G.M.:
Don’t want to name any one person since everyone has been great! You know, (I had)an experience many years ago was not that favorable but I must say I can’t find one thing to complain about…you can always improve something but this visit and stay has just been great.

From J and M:
My husband was scheduled for a knee replacement in October. We arrived at the hospital at 6am and were met by Jennifer and you thought we were checking into a 5 star hotel not a hospital! J’s room was 373 and the nursing staff was wonderful, Lois, Natalie, Emily, and Debra. All the CT’s were great. You would have thought these ladies were family instead of someone assigned to take care of you. It didn’t matter what you asked they always took time to answer and help. If I ever need another hospital visit I wouldn’t hesitate to come back or recommend your facility.

An anonymous call...
Please thank big time Bob, John, Kristen, Cathy, Tiffany and Gail! (Although the caller didn't identify an area, my guess is this person was referring to therapy services.)

There's a slice of the kind of feedback we've been receiving.
Thanks team,