Al­ways lis­ten­ing

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion with em­ploy­ees key at the Women’s Hos­pi­tal

Modern Healthcare - - BEST PLACES TO WORK - By Lola Butcher

An ob­stet­ri­cal, nurs­ery and post­par­tum nurse for nearly 30 years, Leann Fu­elling has an­a­lyzed what sets her cur­rent em­ployer—the Women’s Hos­pi­tal in New­burgh, Ind.—apart from pre­vi­ous em­ploy­ers. “The CEO’s door is open and you can walk in any time and feel com­fort­able telling her your con­cerns or is­sues,” she said. “So I have al­ways felt backed in my prac­tice. I know that as long as I do my best job pos­si­ble, the lead­ers here will back me up in the care of my pa­tients.”

The Women’s Hos­pi­tal ranks No. 2 on Mod­ern Health­care’s list of the medium-size provider or­ga­ni­za­tions on Mod­ern Health­care’s Best Places to Work in Health­care for 2014, those with 250 to 999 em­ploy­ees, and is No. 5 over­all among the 100 em­ploy­ers on the rank­ing. This is the fifth year the hos­pi­tal has earned a place on the list.

No. 1 on this year’s rank­ing for mid-sized providers is Lovelace Women’s Hos­pi­tal, Al­bu­querque, which has made the an­nual Best Places rank­ings six times. The hos­pi­tal was pro­filed last year. Visit mod­ern­health­care.com/bestplaces for pro­files of the hos­pi­tal and other pre­vi­ous win­ners.

Fu­elling’s com­ment sug­gests that CEO Christina Ryan’s strat­egy is work­ing. Since the hos­pi­tal opened in 2001, she and the se­nior lead­er­ship team have worked to make em­ployee com­mu­ni­ca­tion a top pri­or­ity.

“We have tried to ed­u­cate staff that if there is a prob­lem, it needs to be ad­dressed right now, and I think they are used to that men­tal­ity,” Ryan said. “We don’t wait un­til some­thing gets to be a big­ger prob­lem be­cause some­one thinks, ‘Oh, that’s man­age­ment’s job.’ No, it is all of our jobs.”

The “all in this to­gether” cul­ture was first ob­vi­ous to Fu­elling when she in­ter­viewed for a po­si­tion be­fore the hos­pi­tal opened. She was in­ter­viewed not only by nurs­ing man­agers, but also by the physi­cians with whom she would be work­ing. To her, that helped cre­ate a cul­ture of a com­mu­nity of care­givers in which the CEO and physi­cians, nurses, nurs­ing techs and all oth­ers see them­selves as part of team re­spon­si­ble for pa­tient care.

Although the hos­pi­tal oc­ca­sion­ally sur­veys staff mem­bers to get in­put on spe­cific top­ics, the Women’s Hos­pi­tal ex­ec­u­tive team pri­mar­ily re­lies on the “Best Places” survey re­sults to mon­i­tor what em­ploy­ees are think­ing and feel­ing. Each year, the hos­pi­tal’s hu­man re­sources di­rec­tor an­a­lyzes survey re­sults and dis­trib­utes find­ings to the man­age­ment team.

“We look at scores in var­i­ous ar­eas and we try to de­velop an ac­tion plan in (any area that needs im­prove­ment) and work on that in the next year,” Ryan said.

Com­ments made in re­sponse to open-ended ques­tions in the survey are par­tic­u­larly valu­able.

“Some­times it is even more im­por­tant than the num­bers be­cause we are re­ally get­ting to the root of what peo­ple are think­ing,” Ryan said.

The em­pha­sis on com­mu­ni­ca­tion ex­tends both ways.

Ryan wants all em­ploy­ees to feel a re­spon­si­bil­ity to speak up and share in­for­ma­tion that will im­prove hos­pi­tal per­for­mance, but she also thinks lead­ers must be proac­tive in com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the staff.

“We re­ally feel that, by ed­u­cat­ing them about the chal­lenges in health­care that we are fac­ing, our em­ploy­ees can un­der­stand the ‘why’ be­hind what we are do­ing,” she said.

For ex­am­ple, rather than telling staff mem­bers that the hos­pi­tal must cut costs be­cause re­im­burse­ments are de­clin­ing, hos­pi­tal lead­ers com­mu­ni­cate how the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s strate­gic plan sup­ports pop­u­la­tion health man­age­ment and the need for ac­count­abil­ity. That helps em­ploy­ees un­der­stand they must find ways to im­prove qual­ity while re­duc­ing costs.

In­for­ma­tion is com­mu­ni­cated in unit meet­ings but also in town hall meet­ings where staff mem­bers hear di­rectly from Ryan. Fu­elling says the open com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Ryan gives staff mem­bers a feel­ing of own­er­ship that makes them want to work harder.

“Every­body takes so much pride in their job here, and we want her to be proud of us,” she said. “We want to carry out her work—lit­tle things like find­ing ways to save money and not be­ing waste­ful. Just be­cause I’m a nurse doesn’t mean I can’t empty the trash in a pa­tient’s room. Peo­ple here just jump in and do what needs to be done.”

CEO Christina Ryan was also “chief astro­naut” for the launch of the Baby Friendly USA ini­tia­tive at the Women’s Hos­pi­tal.

The Women’s Hos­pi­tal’s nurs­ing ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment hosted a Stayin’ Alive Emer­gency Depart­ment Fair that in­cluded ’70s themed cos­tumes.

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