Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Putting system directions to work in local facilities

Many of us who have the opportunity to work in large systems or organizations know that being part of a sizeable “family” may present obstacles in the adoption of system directions or priorities. One strategy to combat this includes holding people accountable, which we do in CHRISTUS through many avenues, including regular conference calls with local leaders (CAP calls) where we review regional performance. However, many of our facilities and regions have found that taking system directions and personalizing them or “making them their own” can lead to even greater adoption.

Kristin Baird, president of Baird Consulting, Inc., recently held a series of educational Webinars on passionate leadership in health care, and invited me to participate. I met Kris when she was writing her most recent book, Raising the Bar on Service Excellence - the Health Care Leader's Guide to Putting Passion into Practice, because she spent some time interviewing me for one of the chapters.

The Webinar included a discussion on fostering a strong sense of purpose, and we also invited a manager at one of our CHRISTUS facilities to share her experience with putting these strategies into practice at a local level. Kristal Fults, RN, who serves as nurse director of the 33-bed medical telemetry unit at CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital in Lake Charles, La., joined us to lend her expertise. You can view our section of slides from the Webinar here.

I shared the history of the CHRISTUS Health brand, including information on the four directions of our Journey to Excellence, as well as our focus on transparency. I also touched on barriers to excellence, leadership keys to success and important habits that leaders should develop.

Kristal then provided specific, practical examples of how she and her staff at CHRISTUS St. Patrick put our Journey to Excellence and its four directions into practice every day. She listed some of what she considers barriers to culture change (denial, blame, rationalization, etc.). She also spoke about some of her keys to success, including rounding on her department. Kristal explained that rounding not only puts her into regular contact with the Associates who report to her, but also allows her to appreciate them and provide them with the tools they need to be successful. Kristal also detailed how her rounds on patients in her department improved patient satisfaction as well as the satisfaction of her Associates. These opportunities give her a chance to be a good example and go above and beyond when necessary; for instance, she may work as a nurse’s assistant for a day if they are short-staffed or someone calls in sick.

CHRISTUS St. Patrick has also instituted some interesting spins on CHRISTUS programs. They utilize our nursing dashboard (similar to our balanced scorecard, which provides a succinct, easy-to-read summary of our progress in measurable outcomes). However, they also drafted their own “standards of behavior” with Associate input that aligns with CHRISTUS’ Core Values but also makes a statement about the issues that are important to local CHRISTUS Healers.

In addition, CHRISTUS St. Patrick holds monthly drawings from a list of all the Associates who have been named or thanked in patient satisfaction surveys. The winners of this drawing are awarded $50 on the spot. They also utilize varied committees, teams and councils as well as CHRISTUS’ recognition tools, which allow Associates to award each other “Spirit Bucks” for a free drink in their cafeteria.

Kristal’s staff also participates in peer interviewing and individualized orientation, which allow frontline staff to participate in the hiring process. These Associates then mentor and coach the new Associates they helped to hire, which creates a mutually beneficial relationship.

They also participate in the community activities, which improves the perception of our brand in the communities we serve, while benefiting the community and our Associates by providing a better place to live.

It is important that while we hold our regions accountable for instituting system programs and creating measurable improvement, we provide them with the encouragement and support to create additional programs that support these directions and further our Journey to Excellence on a daily basis.

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