Every Vote Counts

Tuesday, Nov. 6  is an important day for all.

Patient Bernie Mack with hospital volunteer Lizette W. on Monday during the Bedside Voting Project.

It is a day that can change the course of our nation, merely by what you choose to do on that day.

Many in our country may be disillusioned by politics.  Many may feel that an individual vote may not matter in a sea of other voters in a national election.

I will not bore you with the details of the times in which one person, one action or one vote changed the course of an election or the course of history.

Others have fought, been imprisoned and died for the right to vote.  Each of our votes are a critical acknowledgment of the importance of those sacrifices.

I do not care for whom you vote.

I trust in the collective wisdom of our people to choose wisely and in the best interest of our City, State and Nation.

My message is simple: Take time to vote on Tuesday.

The voting process is so vital that Henry Ford Hospital has taken major efforts to ensure our patients who are hospitalized on election day can still get out their vote.

Our volunteers on Monday assisted countless patients with emergency ballot applications, faxing it to the patient’s respective clerk’s office where a ballot is generated, and then driving to the clerk’s office to pick up the ballot and returning the sealed ballot after the patient completes it.

It’s quite an amazing process.

I want to thank all of our volunteers and staff  involved with the bedside voting project for their work to make every vote count this election.

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Border-to-Border Teamwork Gets Patient Back on the Ice

Earlier this year, I shared a story about Jaime McDermott, the Leamington Flyer assistant coach who crossed the border for life-saving surgery for an ascending aortic aneurism at Henry Ford Hospital.

And I’m not just bringing up this story again because it’s an opportunity to talk about hockey while we await the return of our players to Hockeytown.

Mr. McDermott returned this week to Leamington District Memorial Hospital, to celebrate his incredible recovery and thank the staff there and the staff at Henry Ford Hospital – the two teams that worked together to ensure he would remain a vibrant husband, father, coach, and member of the Leamington community.

This story stands as great example of our relationship with the Canadian health care system. Henry Ford Hospital is ready to provide the best of care to the sickest of patients when alternatives cannot be provided from Canadian resources.

Following Mr. McDermott’s recovery, I sent a letter to Terry Shields, the acting-CEO of Leamington District Memorial Hospital.

In it, I wrote about what we often refer to as the “Miracles on the Boulevard.” These miracles are the product of many individuals, from first responders, to emergency personnel, to transporters, to customs agents, to the treating surgeons, physicians, and nurses.

The story behind the diagnosis, treatment, and eventual dramatic recovery is a tribute to all of these individuals, who, if there was delay or misstep in any part of the process, would not have created the opportunity for Mr. McDermott to be celebrated today. Continue reading

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2-Year Anniversary, Part 1: Celebrating What We’ve Accomplished

 

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The Affordable Care Act & Henry Ford

What does the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act mean to Henry Ford Hospital and Henry Ford Health System, and our patients?

The law has been in effect for two years and Henry Ford has been meeting the necessary steps to comply with the provisions of the law affecting us and our patients.

Doc in the “DIV.” The end of this post includes links to my local news interviews about ACA.

The ruling on Thusday supported the constitutionality of the ACA.

Some of the most controversial aspects of the law are scheduled to be implemented in 2014. Two of these components, mandated insurance and extension of Medicaid, were major subjects of the Court’s ruling.

Mandated insurance was supported as part of the tax provision, that is, failure to adhere to obtaining or providing insurance will be subject to tax penalties.

Without the insurance mandate, the insurance exchanges or pools would likely have fewer healthier enrollees, meaning insurance rates for policies purchased through the exchange would need to be much higher to support costs.

Expansion of Medicaid was left to states wtihout Federal threat of withholding all Medicaid dollars for not extending.

The ruling has brought some “certainty” to the constituionality of the law. This is a certainty that must be looked at through the lens of continued political polarization, the fall elections, threats of repeal of the law in the 2013 Congress, business and personal reaction, and implementation at the state and delivery system level.

But, importantly, this ruling allows Henry Ford to continue to make positive reforms to the country’s health care system, through our efforts to integrate care, reduce costs, increase access and make advances in medical technology, treatment and hospital care.

The ACA means the possibility of extending Medicaid to the nearly 500,000 uninsured people in Michigan, as well as extending additional benefits to lower income familes through insurance exchanges.

The implementation in 2014 also strikes denial of insurance to those patients with pre-exisiting illness. Families will continue to cover their adult children on family policies up to the age of 26.

By expanded coverage for uninsured and low-income patients, the act may help to provide economic relief to Henry Ford’s growing burden of uncompensated care.  In the past eight years uncompensated care at Henry Ford has doubled, from $111 million in 2003 to $210 million in 2011. Continue reading

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Walk in My Shoes: Celebrating Nurses Week

This week, the nation is celebrating the nursing profession and the countless talented, hardworking and compassionate nurses who provide care to those in need.

To express my appreciation and gratitude to the nurses at Henry Ford Hospital, I thought it would be fitting to have a Walk in My Shoes dedicated to nurses.

So I decided to shadow not one, but three nurses: one inpatient, one outpatient and one intensive care unit.

My experience began with Vince Lehmann, R.N., nurse manager of the Pain Clinic, who invited me to his unit to visit patients and see him in action.

The patients in the Pain Clinic often are frequent visitors, which is reflected in the patient/caregiver relationship. I especially enjoyed talking to a patient who had only positive things to say about the Pain Clinic team.

Vince stressed the importance of the patient/caregiver relationship within the clinic and consequently, the ability to effectively manage service recovery .

Vince’s responsibilities don’t end there. He also does the scheduling, marketing, education, policy development and standardization of processes across all Henry Ford Pain Clinics. Even with his busy schedule, he always makes time to deliver great patient care.

Next up was Bob Stine, R.N., charge nurse of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. A 40-bed unit, Bob has a multitude of responsibilities, including managing the beds in the unit, determining which beds are open, and which patients need to be transferred.

In the time I spent with him, I was able to meet a variety of his teammates, including case managers, physicians, residents and nurses. It is clear that Bob’s ability to communicate effectively with his team is imperative to patient care. Continue reading

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The Power of Habit

How’s that New Year’s resolution going so far? Still carrying those extra 10, 15 or 20 pounds?

Certainly, if we resolve to do something and put all of our effort behind it, we should be able to do it, right? This type of “free will” is a great part of our traditional view of how we change or conduct our lives and business.

Unfortunately, it is not as simple as that.

I recently read an opinion piece by David Brooks in the New York Times that highlighted a book written by Charles Duhigg called “The Power of Habit.” In the book, Duhigg, who’s also a reporter at the Times, explores research about how our habits determine our actions.

As much as we think free will overcomes all, much of our actions and behaviors are driven by unconscious habits. Duhigg notes that researchers at Duke University calculated that 40% of our actions are governed by habit, not by conscious decisions.

So much for free will!

According to Brooks’ article, researchers have also come to know the structure of habits. Cue, routine, reward is how habits become ingrained.

Duhigg highlights several examples of how people have learned to replace bad habits with good ones, or create new habits.

From the routine use of toothpaste to football coaches creating practice drills to Starbucks baristas, creation of habits will dictate how one responds to a situation even more quickly and routinely.

Changing your neural network not merely based on forming routine or common triggers. These are instead fortified by emotions and strong desires, like the commitment to a higher purpose or gaining admiration.

What does this have to do with Henry Ford Hospital? 

We are going through a world class service training exercise called by the mnemonic, AIDET (Acknowledge, Introduce, Duration, Explanation, Thanks).

The habit that we wish to create is a common greeting and dialogue that forms the basis of our service culture.

I have heard from many that say they already do this in their patient interactions. Me too, except sometimes I do A, I and E, or I, D and T, but not the habit of routinely doing all the elements. I have a hunch you are no different. Continue reading

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Doc in the DC

 

Congratulations to the employees of Henry Ford. This award was won by each and every one of you…

Nancy Schlichting and Bob Riney receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in Washington, DC.

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The Stanley Cup of Patient Care

I spend a fair amount of time going “South of the Border,” talking to hospital and academic leaders, physicians and others about Henry Ford Hospital – the great doctors, nurses and programs of the Flagship.  

We are very respectful of the Canadian health care system and the great care it provides. When alternatives cannot be provided from Canadian resources, Henry Ford Hospital is there to provide the best of care to the sickest of patients.

As such, we provide clinical support for this extraordinary patient care, at the request of the doctors and providers in Windsor and Essex County, whenever it is needed. 

Most notable of this clinical support is the work that we have done in cardiovascular disease, especially in acute myocardial infarction.

No amount of my discussions of the value of our partnerships compares to this story, especially the video of a true “Miracle on the Boulevard.”

To our cardiovascular surgical team, the surgeons, the anethesiologists, the nurses, and the technicians: This story is better than winning the Stanley Cup.  Continue reading

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It’s the Little Things (and the Routine Things) That Count

Every day I hear a patient care story at Henry Ford Hospital that absolutely inspires me and fills me with pride. 

Henry Ford Hospital teams work to bring water into the hospital during the August 2003 power outage.

These are often heroic efforts of clinical expertise and team work, with many of our people working against all odds to perform care that saves a patient from what appears to be an impossible situation. These “miracles on the Boulevard” seem almost routine.

Times of crisis also seem to bring out the best in Henry Ford. 

I noticed this years ago when we lost electricity on Campus on two occasions. 

You could not have had a group of people working together more incredibly to overcome not only the obstacles of minimum electrical power, but the even greater challenges of inadequate water so needed for thirst and cleanliness.

I sit back in awe of our people at these times.

Where do we falter?

What is remarkable is that when we fail, it is in the little things or the routine things that we need to perform on a daily basis. The concentrated efforts and energy during a crisis do not always translate as well to our daily tasks.

Not that it is easy to have these bursts of focus at all times. 

As a physician once told me, you can sprint for periods, but you can’t run a marathon by sprinting. It takes a different approach and mindset.

Much of health care is a marathon. Repetitive, frequent, routine, if you will. 

No fan fare in our employee newsletter and no flurry of congratulatory emails on a remarkable effort.

Our true business challenge is to relentlessly focus on day-to-day patient care and to do it as well as it can be done.  It is the most important element to ensure our success as a hospital.

Yet these daily acts – the ones that we must do – count just as much as all of our photo-op moments.  Continue reading

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One Week Proves Why We’re So Much More Than Just a Hospital

It only took one week to prove a point that I regularly tell people: Henry Ford Hospital is so more than just a hospital, a place to care for patients.

We’re a destination in Detroit for education, culture and some truly unbelievable events for our employees, patients and the community. (And it all happens while our health care teams do what they do best: provide the absolute best care and service to each and every one of our patients – each time, every time, every encounter.)

Many of my regular blog readers have already gotten a glimpse at some of the amazing things that have happened recently at Henry Ford Hospital.

It all started with a community event to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which showcased some of the amazing choral talent in our city (and in our hospital), as well as a keynote address by Bankole Thompson, the senior editor of the Michigan Chronicle.

God's Hands of Praise performs at Henry Ford Hospital

If you have not heard Mr. Thompson speak, you have missed the brilliance of passionate commitment and challenge. Sam Logan, rest in peace; your charge will continue.

And the choirs from the Mosaic Singers, Detroit Rescue Mission, God’s Hands of Praise, and our own Martina Gifford and the Henry Ford Health System Choir stirred the blood as much as the soul.

Each year, this event is better than the last, and serves as an important reminder of how Dr. King’s visions and principles continue to drive and inspire us in the work we do every day. 

Only a few days later, our employees welcomed the Detroit Tigers 2012 Winter Caravan to our hospital. With Miguel Cabrara, Brennen Boesche and several other Tigers stars in attendance, we were reminded why baseball is such an important part of the growing excitement surrounding our city.

Ramon Santiago with Marla Hull, Inpatient Case Management.

Baseball is one of the constancies in American life (all respect to James Earl Jones and Field of Dreams).

Those of us around in 1968 know the way baseball and the Detroit Tigers calmed and soothed a battered city. 

Dr. King’s vision was seen in the stands of every home game, and showed us that how even in the most polarizing situation most of us are alike with common goals, aspirations, and dreams.

Countdown to Opening Day at Comerica Park: 11 weeks. Continue reading

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