Monthly Archives: November 2013

AHA 2013 Nova Award Winners

The American Hospital Association NOVA Awards honor the bright stars of the hospital field that:

  • improve community health status — whether through health care, economic or social initiatives
  • are collaborative — joint efforts among health care systems, hospitals and other community organizations

The five 2013 winners were selected for their “effective, collaborative programs focused on improving community health.” All share common threads of reaching beyond their four walls with community partners.

  • St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin championed an exhaustive approach to bettering its service area, from building a dental clinic to offering plots of hospital land for community gardens.
  • Good Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes, Indiana intercepts serious health issues before they snowball by offering free, preventive health screenings across a 10-county region.
  • Ephraim McDowell Health’s Hope clinic in Danville, Kentucky is reaching out to its rural patients by offering thousands of free visits, with a special focus on high utilizers.
  • Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems in Bangor, Maine has helped develop an intricate web of IT systems across the state to better coordinate care and treat the chronically ill.
  • Spectrum Health System in Grand Rapids, Michigan is using community health workers to better serve those with heart failure and diabetes.

Additional information & applications to nominate your local organization’s collaboration are available on

Washington State Consumer Choice Award Winners

Since 1996 the National Research Corporation has selected the most-preferred hospitals in markets across the U.S. based on consumer preference responses. Congratulations to all seven winners, but especially to Sacred Heart Medical Center for sustaining their performance for 10 consecutive years!

Here are all our 2013/2014 Consumer Choice Award Winners:

  • Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, Spokane (10th straight year)
  • Providence St. Peter Hospital, Olympia (7 years)
  • Harrison Medical Center, Bremerton (6 years)
  • Kadlec Regional Medical Center, Kennewick (4 years)
  • Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, Yakima (4 years)
  • St. Joseph Medical Center, Tacoma (2 years)
  • Tacoma General Hospital, Tacoma (1 year)

Employees are Consumers or Contributors

New Employees are excited and full of hope. A new adventure is about to start. They want to contribute. Doesn’t matter if it’s a Registered Nurse, Physician Assistant or public health job.

Too often that employee slowly becomes a consumer. Not doing anything bad enough to write up. But the fire is clearly gone. Seeing their excitement when talking about an upcoming weekend event can remind you of their arrival. Contributors can be twice as productive as Consumers. And no hospital has enough staff to absorb the productivity drain.

Great Managers are the ones who can turn them back into Contributors. Building a sense of community is critical, but that means a safe place where all ideas are welcome and mistakes are rarely punished. Mining data is expected, but few choose to mine their staff’s ideas and experiences. Diversity (cultural and experiential) is essential for new ideas. Insanity is continuing to do the same thing and think you’re group productivity will improve.

Identify where the person is. Just taking a genuine interest is a huge first step. Then give them a specific project that will be challenging enough to break the mindset. Ask, listen, challenge, and encourage. Don’t give them too many answers. Assume they’re smart enough to figure it out. Because the specific project is less important than replacing your Consumer with a Contributor.

New Grad RNs Looking For That First Job

We’ve all heard the angst from a new grad RN who hasn’t been able to land that first job. Clearly today’s reality doesn’t reflect the RN shortage that’s right around the corner. I don’t want them to find another career – I need them around in 10 years caring for me!

So what can we say besides some encouraging words? The first two options are the most popular, but I don’t hear much about the third.

  1. Return to school for your ARNP. Yes, they’re tired of school and already have loans to repay. But NPs are part of the solution to the Physician shortages, and they’ll be keeping those hospital skills current while waiting for more RNs to retire.
  2. Suggest they broaden their perspective to include non-hospital positions. Anything in patient care is a good beginning. Starting in long term care, assisted living and home health doesn’t mean you have to retire there. And staffing agencies are often a good vehicle for finding non-traditional positions.
  3. Volunteer! Care for the homeless, community clinics, community health centers, Doctors Without Borders, literally anywhere you can provide health care to individuals. It’s good on your resume and good in an interview. And you’ll undoubtedly come in contact with  healthcare professionals who can recommend you at their organizations. Getting that ‘friends and family’ recommendation is often the key to getting your resume into the interview pile.


Health Insurance and Financial Planning

Wealth without worry is a beautiful thing. We all know there are countless lottery jackpot winners who go bankrupt &/or get divorced. I got out of the stock market 30 years ago when I realized my demeanor’s fluctuations matched the stock price. Rental property, with an income stream on an appreciating asset, would be perfect if it weren’t for the renters. Locking it up in T-bills avoids impulse buying, since most of us can only look at a pile of money in liquid accounts for so long before we have to spend it on something.

So how much is enough? Hoarding and fear of the future isn’t the answer. But not having health insurance when we know we’ll get sick is foolish too. Obamacare may not be the answer. But hopefully we’ve gone far enough down this road that the principles won’t be thrown out if this specific legislation is repealed.

There are a few timeless principles:

  • Don’t play with the rent (only buy stocks with money you can afford to lose)
  • Pay off your house (debt-free retirement is a LOT easier)
  • Get basic insurance (before one ‘oops’ wipes out everything)
  • Lockup any windfalls (ie. inheritance) in a one year T-bill (protection from friends and family)

We now agree that Dental health has a direct impact on our physical health. Did you know pain management therapists deal with chronic pain by focusing on emotional health? The body is a miraculous thing.

So peace is good. Worry is not. Do what you can. Let go of what you can’t change.  Reminds me of the Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Alzheimer’s Minimization

Alzheimer’​s is an insidious disease. It’s no wonder there are so many Caregiver Support groups, including online groups and 24×7 Helplines for those who can’t leave their patient alone. Coach Broyles’ Playbook for Alzheimer’s Caregivers is excellent.

Here are a few suggestions that have made a difference in our patient. They’re not complicated or expensive, but they do take some diligence.

A summary of what we’re doing food-wise:

  1. 4-5 oz of 100% Concord grape juice in the morning with his medications to reduce brain plaque (Prevention magazine said red or purple grapes)
  2. Substitute pure coconut oil for other oils whenever possible (coconut oil idea per Dr. Oz & other sources)
  3. Snack: use 1 Tablespoon of pure coconut oil to pop 1/8 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
  4. Minimize ingestion of metals (metals found in brains of Alzheimer’s patients per Dr. Oz). Note: metals are found in medications as well as leaching from several types of cookware.
  5. Minimize meat from four-footed animals; maximize meat from 2-footed animals (birds); and have seafood at least once per week to keep cholesterol low.

Plus one very important general anesthesia suggestion:

  1. Don’t undergo general anesthesia unless absolutely necessary. This is often the prelude to severe symptoms of Alzheimer’s. It seems that younger people come out of the “general anesthesia fog” rather well; older people do not do as well. Have seen this happen many times. I truly wish there were more serious research into this matter!

Any more suggestions?! What’s working for you?

Obamacare vs. “The Website”

I’m not a fan of Obamacare. I’m all for making healthcare available to everyone but we already had that, even if it was an imperfect system. But the website problems are not a reason to throw it out.

I’ve been working on computers since 1971 and developing applications is just as complicated now as then. If the last 40 years have taught us anything it’s that you can’t over plan or over communicate (yes, technically that’s two things).

At the department level, hospital Human Resource departments understand the difficulty of replacing their current Applicant Tracking System with a new, proven, well-used ATS, and integrating it with all their other HR Management and Payroll applications. The Obamacare plan was to have all of your software applications get developed by independent companies listening to different government agencies – and have all of them implemented on the same day, Oct 1.

On a broader scale, hospitals know the effort required to implement a system-wide application like electronic medical records (EMR). So who out there really believed that the Obamacare website would suddenly work on Oct 1? Probably not your IT staff or any software development companies. The contractors themselves told the congressional inquiry committee that it wasn’t ready to launch.

I wish we could ‘rebrand’ all of this health insurance reform, with a tax on anyone who opts out, and every insurance company that wants in can be responsible for their own web applications. Then the government’s website can be an electronic brochure that points people to the applicable vendors. I’ll bet it’ll be up faster than congress can pass a bill to – oops, that’s not a fair metaphor.

Ever Personality Profile Yourself?

The need for Behavioral Interviewing is a given. But that doesn’t mean a Unit Manager at your hospital knows (or cares) how to use it effectively. Like all skills it requires training and practice for everyone in the hiring process, including HR.

I’ve had my share of ineffective interviews where, in retrospect, I wondered if someone switched the paperwork and we’d hired the wrong person. So ~20 years ago I ran a Personality Profile on myself. It was distressing. Years later I ran another and, despite my efforts, it really didn’t change much. It just took a few minutes and the accuracy was creepy. Can we really be sorted and filed in a box that easily?

Obviously there was only one logical response – every candidate now fills out one of these profiles at the beginning of our interview process. For my staff, this “behavioral assessment and employment consulting firm located in Tampa, FL” includes an addendum about how the two of us will mesh, or not, at work. At each exit interview I review the addendum and they’ve been consistently accurate. Again, to the point of being a little creepy. Even though the results were shared with the employee when they were hired!

The codependent in me says, ‘You know how much you’ve changed in the past 7 years – run it again!’ And maybe I will. If you’re at all interested, Omnia® will give you a free assessment as well.