What We Can Achieve in 2013

“Be Great in Act; As You Have Been in Thought.”

— William Shakespeare

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Each year that I’ve been President and CEO of Henry Ford Hospital, I’ve made it a tradition to send my colleagues and my team a New Year’s card with a very special message.

In 2011, that message was BELIEVE. Our belief in our mission, each other, our work and our city is what drives our relationships and emotional engagement in what we do every day.

Our belief in what Henry Ford Hospital is, belief in who we are, each other, our work and our city.  This special role that we play, although not perfectly fulfilled at all times, is what drives our relationships and emotional engagement in what we do every day.  And health care is all about belief.

In 2012, I challenged our team to DREAM big, consider the thoughts and possibilities that our beliefs would create. Dream beyond the limits of our doubts, our fears and our reluctance.  Dream the dreams of our forefathers and our children. Dream about the greatness that can be created at Henry Ford Hospital and the Henry Ford Medical Group; true greatness that no one could argue.

And when you truly believe and your dreams do not place limits on yourself, it is time to ACHIEVE.

Each time, every patient, every encounter, everything that we do – ACHIEVE, the word that I hope will inspire all of us in our actions throughout 2013.

Below is my New Year’s card, which I now share with you.

Happy New Year!

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At Your Service

Ever show up at a new location for an important event or meeting, maybe a new city, say a hotel or large office building, and your first response is: “Where am I, and where do I go?”

I certainly have (unfortunately that is happening to me even when I go to an old location!).

No map or sign ever seems to be good enough to navigate, although I do like instructions like “follow the yellow arrow.” 

Isn’t it great when someone takes the time to direct you and escort you to where you need to go?

Coming to a large, hospital in an unfamiliar city to navigate your way through an already complex System, is … quite frankly, overwhelming.

As we work toward making it simple to get around a very large institution like Henry Ford Hospital, we have learned from the hotel industry that there is no substitute for a person to help patients through an anxiety.

Regardless of where you’re traveling, it is not uncommon to be assisted by a concierge team when checking into your hotel. You may be greeted by a concierge member who shares with you any necessary information you may need for your stay and he or she is available at any time to answer your questions and concerns.

When coming to a new hospital and clinic, this type of service is vital to lessen the stress and make sure the patient and family can concentrate on the medical issues and return to health.

I was given the opportunity to shadow Delise Baker, one of Henry Ford Hospital’s concierge members  from the Referring Physician’s Office.

With approximately 40 percent of outstate growth patients coming to the hospital from more than 35 miles away, this is not only an added customer service amenity for our patients – it’s a necessity. Continue reading

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The Annual Quality Expo

This week marked Henry Ford Health System’s 21st Annual Quality Expo.

The Quality Expo, hosted at Henry Ford Hospital, offers an opportunity for all of Henry Ford Health System to showcase the innovations and improvements made by our employees, departments and hospitals in the areas of health care quality, patient safety and care delivery.

Leo, a therapy dog at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital, is one of the most remarkable therapists that I have ever encountered. Leo and HFWH’s Pet Therapy Program were featured at the Quality Expo.

Henry Ford is the only health care provider in southeast Michigan to host such an event.

The Quality Expo’s features 70 projects, all of which are aimed at reducing medical errors and improving patient safety, quality and satisfaction.

As always at this event, I was truly impressed, as I walked through the poster presentations and spoke with colleagues, by the tremendous work being done by our health care teams to continuously enhance quality and safety throughout the system.

I did stop to see one of our employees, Leo, a therapy dog at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital.

Leo is one of the most remarkable therapists that I have ever encountered.  He is calm, friendly, and extraordinarily soothing, and part of a great program of pet therapy throughout our System.  Within minutes of being with him, all of my concerns and anxieties were gone.

(Of course, my own dog, Co Co, previously feature in Doc In the D, continues to be the one I confide in the most.  Co Co’s colleague, Mr. Mo, aka Uncle Mo, provides coverage as needed. Sometimes both are needed to “treat” me.)  Continue reading

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Transporting Service Excellence

Whether it’s an inpatient arriving for an x-ray or CT scan, or a patient coming in for a routine clinic appointment, getting patients comfortably and safely from Point A to Point B is a vital component of the patient care experience at Henry Ford Hospital.

And if you’ve seen our team of patient transporters in action, you know it’s not an easy job.

Give it a try someday.

From moving a patient safely out of bed, to negotiating too narrow doorways, to maneuvering beds, gurneys or wheelchairs through the maze of corridors and crowded hallways, all while keeping the patient calm and relaxed and ensuring the patient receives a smooth and timely ride to the next destination in their treatment of care.

Have you ever tried just walking through the main hallway during the lunch hour or walking the patient floors during the height of morning patient care and rounding?

Imagine trying to weave through that crowd with a patient, equipment and a gurney.

The job of a patient transporter is essential to the everyday activity of clinicians too.

That’s why I wanted to highlight the important (and at times overlooked) role of the patient transporter, by taking a walk in the shoes of Willard Robinson.

Willard has been with the System for more than 20 years. He’s also someone I consider a “legacy employee,” because his mother also worked many years for the hospital.

Like many of our employees, Willard goes out of his way to ensure he not only does his job, but puts his patients first. Continue reading

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2-Year Anniversary, Part 2: Plans for the Future

View “Part 1” of the two-year anniversary video here.

So what do you think about the future plans for Henry Ford Hospital and our accomplishments during this past year? Share your comments below.

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

 

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Planning a “Good” Death

Dr. Ken Murray, a retired clinical assistant professor of family medicine at the University of California, wrote a thought-provoking article earlier this year in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Why Doctors Die Differently.”

The essential point of the paper was captured in the sub-headline, noting that doctors’ experiences throughout their careers teach the limits of treatment and reinforces the importance of the need to plan for the end.

In essence, physicians – and I would add other clinical care providers to that list – know all-too-well that medicine cannot fix all, especially at the end of life.

Murray quotes nursing professor Karen Kehl, who in the article called “Moving Toward Peace:  An Analysis of the Concept of a Good Death,” noted features of a graceful death, such as:

  • Being comfortable
  • Being in control
  • Having a sense of closure
  • Making the most of relationships, and
  • Having family involved in their care.

Unfortunately, in today’s world, many patients experience a death without these attributes. Physicians have seen this so frequently that it influences how they think about the end if their lives too.

Why the disconnect? 

To avoid what may be considered undo influence, physicians try not to impose their own views on the situation.

Providing hard clinical data to enable a patient to make a decision is generally believed to be the extent of the information a physician or care provider should offer.

When asked directly what they would do for themselves, physicians often deflect the question to ensure patients are not overly influenced by their answer:

“It is what you would want to do, not what I would do.” 

This is adherence to the medical ethical principle of autonomy, making sure that patients or their decision-makers make decisions for themselves and without coercion.

But perhaps we have lost something by the answer we provide.  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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Drinking from the Fire Hose

I am not sure exactly what is going on in the world to have caused the major increase in emergency visits and hospitalizations at Henry Ford Hospital over the last several days (or weeks or months). 

Maybe it’s solar winds, sun spots, loss of insurance, inadequate access to primary care, excessive co-pays or the leap year effect? It’s probably a combination of all of the above.

Maintaining high volumes of admissions by and large is good for the hospital. Better than the opposite. 

It’s a bit like: drinking water is good, while drinking water through a fire hose has its problems.

I do know that the teams of nurses, doctor, and all other employees at Henry Ford Hospital have been working at levels that have not been present for almost a decade. 

In the last few months, we’ve had the highest admissions of any January in 11 years, the greatest number of admissions (over 180) and the greatest number of discharges in our recorded history. 

It doesn’t matter if you are working on the front, middle or back end of hospitalization; you are experiencing high work loads, significant stress and strained processes.

Thank you for being here.

I was walking in the emergency department with Ronnie Hall, our COO, who I have worked with for over 25 years. Patients in CAT 1 were very sick, and triage patients, to our surprise, looked even sicker.  

Patients and their families were patient, but weary. Being sick and feeling poorly, waiting in a wheelchair or stretcher to be seen, is no way to spend a beautiful March afternoon.

In the midst of a sea of patients in triage, one of the patients wanted to leave before service could be provided. She was tired and just wanted to go home. Continue reading

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