Thursday, October 29, 2009

Brava, Helen!

I don't usually post emails from other hospital CEOs to their staffs, but this one is so kind and thoughtful that it presents a model for others to emulate. Helen Streider stepped in from a lay Board position to be Interim CEO of New England Baptist Hospital when there was an unexpected vacancy in the job. This, in itself, was generous act. Now, as her term ends with the arrival of a new CEO, she bids farewell to the staff in an incredibly gracious manner.

This will be my final Reflections as Interim President and CEO. It has been a remarkable year (actually 14 months). To this day, I am proud that the Trustees asked me to take on this responsibility and humbled by the honor. It has been a great privilege to work at the helm of this extraordinary institution where the values of respect, ownership, superior service and excellence result in legendary service being a prominent part of the culture.

These values are some of the reasons that my father, a thoracic surgeon, loved the Baptist, and the reason why I have enjoyed working at this institution, from the time I had a summer job during college, through my service on the Board of Trustees.

I knew as I started to work last August that I would be supported by a talented Executive Team and helped along the way by all who work here, and this proved true. I am proud that we were able to go beyond just holding the fort and accomplish so much together this year.

First and foremost, we continued our journey toward keeping our patients safe by reducing complications such as infections, skin breakdowns and medication errors. All of nursing, health care quality, infection control, environmental services and everyone who washes their hands regularly contributes to this progress. The pharmacy, nursing units, and the PASU learned to solve problems to root cause, reducing medication errors that reached the patient by 33%. To be successful with this process means that we must not blame each other for mistakes, but instead figure out how to change systems to avoid errors. We have learned to be transparent and now know it is safe to call out issues as they arise.

When the economy failed, and we, like so many, lost value in our investments and our pension assets, and our volume declined, the entire staff pulled together and made sacrifices to enable us to make, and even exceed, our budget. Special kudos go to the patient care teams who cooperated in continuous, precise flexing of staff and closing units when volume levels required.

And then there was the horrible winter, when Security roared into action getting folk up the hill for their shifts, and the wonderful patient care team spent overnights here and did everything in their power to make sure that they were here to care for their patients (including one nurse who walked up the icy hill in her socks).

We have renewed our alliance with our medical staff by coordinating negotiations with insurers and, in the process, aligned our quality goals with the medical staff metrics.

We reached a milestone in our Master Facility Plan in September as we opened the beautiful new Central Sterile Processing Department and a leading edge OR. The remarkable thing about the construction and facilities team was not only that they accomplished these goals, but met them while keeping disruption to operations to a minimum, and Environmental Services kept us clean and shiny throughout. What a great team!

By the end of the fiscal year our surgical admissions, outpatient visits and radiology volume actually exceeded that of 2008, despite the economic downturn and various other challenges. The increase in volume is due in large part to the efforts of our medical staff to increase their work, and to the incredible efficiency in the OR and perioperative teams. We also were fortunate to have several Harvard Vanguard orthopedists join our ranks in a testimony to their belief in our quality and that this is a place where their patients will have better outcomes. And now, as we are blessed with greater volume, all departments are rising to the challenge of caring for more patients while holding to our high standard of care.

And through all of this, our Food & Nutrition team fed us, catered events with panache, and comforted out patients with room service. They sustained us with that vital coffee and snacks as we dragged into early morning or evening meetings ready to put our heads on the conference table. How would we survive without them?

And what a beautiful tea party they orchestrated for us yesterday. Thanks to all for a lovely afternoon of smiles and to everyone who came to wish me well. And special thanks for my beautiful new chair.

So now Trish arrives on November 2nd . . . and I will be sleeping in! We all are excited about her leadership and look forward to helping her help us be the very best we can be.

Thank you all for a wonderful, exciting and challenging experience and for all that you do for this Hospital.


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