Mak­ing em­ployee well-be­ing a pri­or­ity

Man­agers at Doc­tors Hospi­tal of Sara­sota work to keep their staffers happy


Ev­ery­one at Doc­tors Hospi­tal of Sara­sota (Fla.) will agree that the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s top goal is tak­ing care of pa­tients. But with­out a healthy staff, that can be harder to ac­com­plish. With that in mind, of­fi­cials at the 155-bed acute-care fa­cil­ity in the retirement and va­ca­tion haven on Florida’s Gulf Coast say man­age­ment em­pha­sizes the phys­i­cal and men­tal well-be­ing of em­ploy­ees as well.

“Health­care work­ers are al­ways tak­ing care of oth­ers, and it’s some­times hard for them to re­mem­ber to take care of them­selves,” said Theresa Lev­er­ing, the hospi­tal’s vice pres­i­dent of hu­man resources.

Doc­tors Hospi­tal is No. 2 among medium-size providers, No. 2 among providers of all sizes and No. 5 over­all in Mod­ern Health­care’s Best Places to Work in Health­care for 2015.

The hospi­tal tries to help by giv­ing its 443 em­ploy­ees ac­cess to two fit­ness cen­ters that are open around the clock, and free lab­o­ra­tory work once a year, who can then share the re­sults with their own doc­tor. Man­agers try not to sched­ule em­ploy­ees to work over­time.

But the most pop­u­lar well­ness perk for em­ploy­ees is prob­a­bly the free mas­sages. Ev­ery month, the hospi­tal brings in mas­sage ther­a­pists and pays for short mas­sages for any em­ployee who wants one. It’s been so pop­u­lar on the day shift, it will be soon start on the night shifts.

“You wouldn’t think that mas­sages would make a big dif­fer­ence, but they re­ally do,” said Teresa Greisinger, a staff ac­coun­tant in the of­fice of the chief financial of­fi­cer.

Doc­tors Hospi­tal is in a grow­ing part of Florida, and is grow­ing it­self. It is in the midst of a $17 mil­lion ex­pan­sion and ren­o­va­tion that in­cludes a new emer­gency depart­ment and op­er­at­ing rooms, to bet­ter ac­com­mo­date grow­ing pa­tient vol­umes. Of­fi­cials say the new fa­cil­i­ties also might help re­duce stress on clin­i­cal staff.

The hospi­tal tries to en­cour­age com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween staff and man­age­ment through an Em­ployee Ad­vi­sory Group, as well as reg­u­lar lunches that in­clude all staff mem­bers, as well as top man­agers like CEO Bob Meade. The hospi­tal also hosts staff lunches with mem­bers of the board of di­rec­tors.

Lev­er­ing said hav­ing em­ploy­ees who feel healthy and well cared for them­selves isn’t just a mat­ter of mak­ing sure the hospi­tal is ad­e­quately staffed, but also hav­ing sat­is­fied, en­gaged em­ploy­ees. That com­bi­na­tion can im­prove pa­tient care and boost pa­tient-sat­is­fac­tion scores.

“If you have a pa­tient in ter­ri­ble pain and hav­ing a bad day, and (a staff mem­ber) is feel­ing bad or hav­ing a bad day, that cre­ates more stress for the pa­tient and we re­al­ize that,” Lev­er­ing said.

Em­pha­siz­ing the pa­tient ex­pe­ri­ence is im­por­tant at Doc­tors Hospi­tal of Sara­sota.

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