Lucky to Have a Hero

We deliver almost 3,000 babies a year at Chippenham & Johnston-Willis Hospitals. If you have been on one of our Mother Babies units – you know that they are very well appointed with not only the latest technology but the highest level clinical skills available. Of course delivering in the unit is predicated on actually getting to the unit. That did not occur with one expectant mom in late January.

Sylvester "Sly" Brooks

Sylvester “Sly” Brooks

Sylvester (Sly) Brooks has worked on the night shift in housekeeping as a Floor Technician at Chippenham Hospital for nine years. He is one of the critical members of our team that makes our hospital literally shine. One night in January, he was buffing the floors in the Chippenham ER waiting room, a busy place that treats close to 100,000 patients a year. He and the other visitors in the waiting room heard a commotion coming from the parking deck. Someone was screaming, “help, help!” Sly ran outside to see what was happening only to find two people in a car – one of whom was a pregnant woman in great pain. There was no time to get anyone else. According to Sly, “the baby was halfway out.” Sly stepped up and helped out when he was needed most. He quickly reacted and put his hand under the baby’s head and placed a blanket under the baby. Within minutes the baby was delivered. Soon thereafter nurses and other providers came outside and rushed the mom and baby into the Emergency Room. The baby and mom did great.

I asked him to tell me what it was like to have such an extraordinary experience. He said, “I was very nervous. I had no idea that was going to happen. My instincts kicked in to do the best I could to do. The only reason I went was to help any way I could. When my first daughter was being born I fainted watching her be delivered. I didn’t watch my other 3 kids be born because I was afraid of doing that again. So at the moment I saw a stranger’s baby delivering I was very nervous and wanted to hold it together. I was just thinking about the mother and the baby.”

I asked him how this experience ranked to others in his life (assuming this would be at the top). He said it was the second most spectacular. Of course I had to follow up and learn what topped his list as #1. It turns out he has been a hero before. One day three years ago he jumped out of his car on Midlothian Turnpike because he saw a SUV with two young children and no adult pulling straight back onto the road from a convenience store parking lot. A 6 year old was at the wheel. Apparently, the children had been left in the car and were able to switch the car into gear, causing it to move backward on the busy road. Sly saw the boy screaming out the window so he quickly moved his car to block the moving car, jumped out, ran to the driver’s side, and pushed the car into park as it went across the median strip.

This week, I brought Sly to the CJW Board of Trustees’ meeting to be recognized for his heroic acts. His final words during out interview were, “I do whatever I need to do to make the company better. I am all about teamwork. Anything I can do – I am there.” So if you see Sly working the night shift buffing floors, please stop him and thank him for stepping up when he was needed most.

Defining our Cultural Beliefs

I know we all agree that creating and sustaining positive, strong workplace culture is directly tied to our success, both caring for patients and as employees. I am a strong believer that our culture isn’t taught, but rather is something that permeates across the organization regardless of our individual role. It hits at the core values of all of the people who work day-in and day-out in our organization.

Cultural Pyramid

Cultural Pyramid

With that in mind, we recently spent time clarifying and articulating the values and beliefs of our teams at Chippenham & Johnston-Willis Hospitals (CJW). The culture has clearly been built over the 40+ years of our history. It also lives in the 3,000+ associates in our facilities today. Great cultures embrace their core beliefs and allow for an environment where we hold each other accountable for living up to those values. The beliefs aren’t something for posting on a wall and talking about one time. They live in the work done every day – all day. As you see people live these values, I ask that you find ways to recognize them because they make us an extraordinary place. It is why patients choose us and it is why an employee would choose to work here when there are so many options in healthcare.

Here is what came to light as key imperatives for CJW’s culture. They are written in the first person because it is something that we ask from ourselves if we are to be successful serving others.

  1. Create Wow – I create extraordinary experiences for everyone, every time
  2. I Decide – I am trusted to be a decision maker and my voice matters
  3. Own It - I take accountability to be the solution
  4. Shatter Silos – I contribute to a team bigger than my department
  5. Simplify & Focus – I prioritize what matters most to deliver our key results
  6. Live Excellence – I bring my best and encourage others to shine

I would really like to hear examples from you on how you have seen one of our team members exemplifying one of these core beliefs. Please share your feedback either as a reply to this blog and more importantly in daily workday recognition moments with those that inspire you.

Strengthening Culture and Preparing for Tomorrow.

Chippenham & Johnston-Willis just finished two record months of patient volume in December 2014 and January 2015. Volume growth is one of the best signs that more and more patients and physicians are choosing our hospitals to receive care when they need it most. December saw a record Emergency Room visit total with close to 13,000 in the month – the most in our history. That equates to over 400 visits a day. Admissions also saw new highs with over 3,000 admissions in both December and January. We recognize this 10%-15% spike in volume causes significant challenges in staffing and we sincerely appreciate all the many associates who helped by picking up extra shifts to care for our patients. Prior to the volume increase we had initiated an aggressive and focused effort to expand our nursing recruitment which yielded over 150 nurses in the last 3 months. We know it takes time to on-board new staff to our culture and systems, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime we are looking at several ways to solve the short-term staffing challenges by expediting our hiring process, developing creative staffing solutions with our own staff, and utilizing agency/contract staff when needed. In the long-term, we also realize the importance of building and maintaining a culture that not only attracts great talent but also retains great talent. I am always amazed by the long tenure of so many of our staff.

As a leadership team, we have the opportunity to do better – not only to meet the healthcare challenges of today but also to prepare ourselves for the challenges yet to come. Nationally, the number one concern on most hospital employee satisfaction surveys is proper staffing and workload. Our goal is to ensure that none of our shifts go unfilled. Moreover, we want to ensure success in staffing the high peaks in census as well as we do the average volume days. I encourage you to continue to share your ideas with us as we focus on reducing employee turnover while successfully recruiting new team members for our ever growing organization.

We have CEO town hall meetings starting tomorrow through the first week of March at both Chippenham & Johnston-Willis Hospitals. I hope you can join us to hear about both our long-term vision and also our short-term action steps to serve both our employees and our patients.

A Level II Trauma Designation to Better Take Care of You

On Monday, Chippenham Hospital received our official notice that we are now a Level II HELO_01Trauma Center as designated by the State Health Commissioner from the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Health. This makes Chippenham Hospital the only Level II trauma center serving central Virginia.

There are over 2.2 million lives served by the Old Dominion EMS Area, of which our HELO_03
community is a part. Did you know trauma is the 5th leading cause of death for all ages and the leading cause of death for people under 44? Last year alone, Chippenham Hospital’s Emergency Department saw over 97,000 patients, 30,000 of them children (0-18) – more than anybody else in South Central Virginia. That’s why it’s so critical to ensure our region has the necessary trauma resources.

Chippenham’s Level II designation is an essential step towards ensuring our patients get the help they need as quickly as possible during the Golden Hour of trauma. This Golden Hour is the first 60 minutes after an initial injury and can often mean the DCIM100MEDIAdifference between life and death for trauma victims. With few exceptions, we can now care for all trauma patients at Chippenham Hospital. With our newly opened second helipad, renovated trauma bays, and clinical specialists added to our medical staff, we demonstrate our commitment to providing the best care for these patients during this critical time – and any time – during their continuum of care.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank all of the partners that supported us on our quest to achieve our Level II trauma center designation. EMS, police, fire & rescue, community leaders, medical staff (in particular Dr. Raymond Makhoul and Dr. Scott Hickey who continue to lead our trauma teams), emergency department employees, Nancy Malhotra and our Trauma Services team, and so many more were pivotal to our success. Thank you for your ongoing support.

Setting the Stage for 2015

It is the beginning of a new year and, as always, there are lots of lists out there suggesting what we could do to better our lives. Most of them sound great when you read them but are often hard to apply to everyday life with any consistency. If you are like me, you are pretty good about it for a month or two but then slip into old habits and comfort zones. With that in mind, I was recently forwarded an interesting article by Paul C. Brunson from titled 20 Successful Habits I Learned Working for Two Billionaires. Reading his list of habits struck a chord with me, so I thought I would share a few that have applicability to both the the work we do at Chippenham & Johnston-Willis Hospitals and in life. Paul’s perspective comes from working with billionaires Oprah Winfrey and Enver Yucel. Here are some of his tips with a few added comments which are largely self-explanatory but if practiced well would benefit us all:

  • Invest in yourself: It is critical to keep growing
  • Be curious…about everything: This curiosity will lead you to solve many problem
  •  Surround yourself with “better” people: Who you chose for your inner circle says a lot about you and keeps you both grounded and stretches you to do more
  • Never eat alone
  • Take responsibility for your losses
  • Take no days off completely
  • Focus on experiences vs. material possessions
  • Take enormous risks
  • Don’t go at it alone:Success isn’t a solo act.
  • Recognize the value of simple ideas
  • Be patiently impatient
  • Be gritty
  • Connect with people outside your community
  • Over-communicate your message
  • Learn to laugh at yourself
  • Be great at one thing, first

What ideas resonate with you for 2015?

Holiday Spirit

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are upon us this week. My kids tell me every day exactly how many days they have to wait until they can start opening their presents. The FeedMore 3truth is we all know there is a lot more significance to the season, regardless of what faith you might be. Our nursing leadership team took this opportunity to give back in a unique way. They recognize that giving back to the community that we serve is very important and that is exactly why they wanted to volunteer to support FeedMore.

FeedMore2FeedMore is Central Virginia’s hunger-relief leader made up of the Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, and the Community Kitchen. With the help of over 250 volunteers per day, they are able to keep these incredibly important programs running. Their outreach extends to local children who need nutritional support at home, struggling families that are unsure where their next meal will come from, and also senior citizens who are home bound and need meals delivered to them in order to preserve their independence. photo 4

By contributing their time, the Directors were able to extend their care and service outside the walls of CJW and also had an opportunity to spend meaningful time with one another during the holiday season.

“No one is more cherished in this world than someone who lightens the burden of another.” – Author Unknown

Thank you CJW Nursing Directors for making a difference.

Dr. Rodney Smith, Chairman of the Board, Shares Parting Words

Dr. Rodney Smith

Dr. Rodney Smith

Today was Dr. Rodney Smith’s final meeting as Chairman of Chippenham & Johnston-Willis Hospitals’ Board of Trustees. He has been on the Board for decades and served as Chairman for a number of those years. He is an inspirational leader who always found the best in people and this organization. He leaves behind a lasting imprint through the work he did both as a pulmonologist and as Board Chairman. I am personally thankful to have served under his leadership. During his last Board meeting he shared some poignant words that I asked him to share for all to read. Here is what he said:

“On this occasion of my last meeting as a CJW Board Member, I would like to let you, my colleagues, know how honored and privileged I feel to have served on and with this Board. I’m not sure exactly how long my tenure has been, but I believe that Tommy Johns was the Chair and Wyke Lyne was the Administrator when I was first asked to serve, probably in the 80’s. I could bore you with the musings of an old man as I look back over all those years, but I won’t. Some of you have to go to work. But I would like to say a couple of things.

First, let me say that, although I haven’t served on many Boards, I can’t believe that I would find any with more committed and engaged members. I marvel at your insights and diverse perspectives which continue to allow this body to maintain its relevance and importance to CJW and HCA. Thank you for what you bring to this table where hope is restored, healing offered, and comfort dispensed.

Second, it has been interesting to witness the evolution of the business of medicine over the past few years. And from what I can see, keep your seatbelts on, for as Confucius would say, we are just starting to live in interesting times. We live quarter to quarter with our investors. We live one to five to ten years out as we strategically plan for the future, endeavoring to assure our financial viability and trying to anticipate what needs our community will have as we age and change and get sick in new and challenging ways and, dare I say, how we might react to our competitors’ strategies. We live day to day, operationally. Do we have enough medicines, blankets, bread, heat, nurses, etc? The business of medicine is complex and critically important, but we, and now you, as a Board must always remember that our primary and only useful function is to provide a platform upon which, and an environment in which, the practice and profession of medicine can take place. It’s about people and their families and their hurts and their illnesses and their fears and their struggles at the most vulnerable times of their lives. And they come to us. And we gather at the bedside, and sometimes we cure and sometimes we heal and sometimes we can’t, but we can always comfort. People come to us assuming competence and quality of care. It is up to us, all of us around this table, to, not only confirm that faith in our competency, but to pursue and assure and deliver excellence of care in each of those encounters. What we do is difficult but what we do matters, more so than anything else we could do in this life that does not involve eternal destiny. Serious business, but aren’t we blessed to be a part of this all? Thank you for the part that each of you plays in this noble endeavor.

So just when that last metric or guideline or spreadsheet threatens to suck the last drop of life out of you, retreat to the bedside and observe what’s happening and who is there and what you are a part of, and perhaps the Joy that is such a part of this season of the year will touch you and lift you and sustain you.”

I welcome you to share any thoughts you have about Dr. Smith’s impact on CJW as a reply on the blog.