Snowmageddon 2016 at CJW!


I can’t thank you enough for all the effort that went into keeping Chippenham & Johnston-Willis Hospitals up and running to care for the patients in our community through the recent blizzard.  Over a foot of snow certainly put a lot of challenges in place, but the staff was nothing short of heroic in getting to work, staying overnight when needed, and doing what was necessary to ensure we could kept our 24 hour operations afloat.  Over 300 employees spent the night at CJW just to help cover future shift needs.

In addition to all the work that was done throughout our hospitals, Ken Smith, Pete Long-Innes, and Mike Beshada ran a robust hospital command center for three straight days, right along with a number of other leaders in the organization.  It took over 750 hours of staff time to keep the command center situated to handle the event.  In addition to the command center, countless CJW employees and community volunteers drove the treacherous roads in four-wheel vehicles clocking over 4,000 miles to pick up and drop off over 500 employees.

Our mission of providing high quality, compassionate-centered healthcare stayed alive and well through this challenging time.  You, once again, demonstrated what our core belief of “Creating Wow” really looks like. Thank you for everything.  This team here is remarkable.

If you have a blizzard story or recognition opportunity related to your CJW experience, please share it here as a reply to the blog.

2015 – A Banner Year Thanks to You

It is hard to believe that we are already charging into 2016. It is important to pause and reflect back on all the great accomplishments by the staff and physicians at Chippenham & Johnston-Willis Hospitals in 2015. I want to quickly highlight a few:

  • CJW saw record admissions – almost 35,000 – making it the second highest volume in the state after INOVA Fairfax. This volume admission increase represents nearly 7% year-over-year growth (10% at Chippenham campus and 5% at Johnston-Willis campus). We recognize this accelerated growth makes retention and recruitment of staff the highest priority. We are working hard to fill every position, but there is no doubt that everyone at Chippenham & Johnston-Willis has worked incredibly hard to cover this increased patient load. We are very appreciative of your efforts and sincerely thank each and every one of you. Along those lines we are now offering referral bonuses to our existing staff of up to $2,500 if you help us recruit key, select positions. See the intranet site or contact HR for details.
  • In January 2015, Chippenham Hospital became the first Level 2 Trauma center in the Richmond area and admitted over 1,200 trauma admissions.
  • Chippenham Hospital’s Emergency Room cared for over 105,000 patients, an 8% increase from the prior year.
  • Johnston-Willis Hospital became one of only two hospitals in Virginia to become Comprehensive Stroke Certified, the gold seal for stroke care in the country. This certification is a great example of leading the industry on how we care for patients when seconds matter.
  • Johnston-Willis was recognized nationally by the Leap Frog Group’s quality assessment as one of the top 62 urban hospital (out of 2,000 eligible hospitals).
  • Johnston-Willis was the first hospital in Virginia to become a designated Robotic Center of Excellence. Thanks to our surgeons and staff, our robotic volume at CJW is the highest in the state.
  • The Joint Commission recognized Chippenham & Johnston-Willis as one of the top performers on key quality metrics.
  • We know that patients value their experiences with each of you and our physicians and they are choosing to return to us for their care. These experiences lead them to share their story at CJW with their friends. Our unprecedented growth as a hospital is directly tied to the experience of our patients. Recently published Richmond hospital inpatient market-share validates that the most significant increase of admissions came to CJW above all other hospitals. In fact CJW grew almost 3.5 times more than the average of the overall metropolitan service area. Individuals choose their healthcare provider based upon trust – whether physician or hospital – and we should all be proud of the trust our community has in each of you and our team.

Thank you for making 2015 a banner year. Your contributions matter and with your help we can continue being a premier hospital in our community.

Holding Hands and Making a Difference

As we enter the final week of the holiday season at Chippenham & Johnston-Willis Hospitals, I thought I would share a touching story (permission granted by family) about Mr. and Mrs. Mullins that speaks to the heart of who we are and what our incredible team members do to truly Live Excellence at our hospitals. Mr. and Mrs. Mullins are two patients in our Johnston-Willis ICU brought here for totally different reasons but closely bonded by almost 71 years of marriage. They have 6 children, 16 grandchildren, 41 great grandchildren, and 13 great great grandchildren. Mr. Mullins is a 92 year old World War II veteran. During this holiday season you can imagine how difficult it is for them and their family to be challenged with dueling hospital stays.

Luckily, these patients, like so many others, are fortunate to have family supporting them and a care team looking for ways of making their stay as comfortable as possible. We all recognize a hospital bed is a difficult way to spend your days or evenings, both because of how you often physically feel but also because of the unfamiliar things going on around you. You can easily imagine the discomfort caused by needles, IVs, test, and medications.


Bernice & John Mullins

Mr. Mullins’s personal care aid, Chyenne Marion, along with RNs Sheri Caudill, Karen Coleman, and Divina Paquiz, who work in the ICU, recognized how difficult it was for a husband and wife with that kind of incredible bond to be separated even while on the same unit. They did what nurses and caretakers do so well – they troubleshot the challenge to figure out how to get Mr Mullins in to see his wife. After attempting to get him out of bed, they could tell that wouldn’t work because he was too weak. Sheri, Karen, and Divina decided to wheel the wife’s bed into the husband’s room. While doing leadership rounding, their director found the couple lying side by side, head to toe, looking at each other, and holding hands. The nurses worked with the physicians and used portable telemetry and oxygen to monitor them. Both patients had a smile on their faces while the caregivers were moved to tears. This is what Live Excellence looks like to me.

The story ended up being captured by friends on Facebook and ultimately picked up, with permission by the family, on ABC & CBS news locally.

A huge thank you to, not only this team, but all of our teams who Create Wow moments every day for our patients and each other. You are an inspiration to us all.

Rumors about Santa at CJW

During my recent hospital rounds I heard a terrible rumor going around the house. At first it was just whispered in dimly lit corners, but soon it grew to be blatantly out in the open for all to hear. The crescendo of the rumor was brought to a head on at one of my recent CEO town halls with staff. I was sure I must have misunderstood or heard it wrong, but sure enough I wasn’t mistaken at all about what they were saying all through our hospital. Someone in the back of the room screamed at me with a Grinchy tone while pointing and accusatory finger saying, “It’s true isn’t it? There really is no Santa Claus.”

Can you believe it? Someone…somewhere… SOMEHOW had started a vicious rumor that he didn’t exist at all. I knew right away this couldn’t be true. Like the real Buddy the Elf, I immediately started having flashbacks of myself as a child. I recall seeing him year after year in my house and in the mall. I know I had opened presents that clearly said they were from the big man himself. My father took the time to read me the poem of all poems, time and again, describing the night before Christmas in such vivid detail of the events that would occur that very night. I even recall phoning a local radio show as a child and talking about my Christmas wish with Santa himself directly in the North Pole. I have no doubt that if my parents took the time to share stories about the legendary man and his reindeer they must be true. I don’t think they would have misled me. Would they?

So before I could muster up the courage to confront this Chippenham & Johnston-Willis rumor head on with our staff, I took some good advice that I was given years ago and asked children for the truth. We all know that children don’t edit themselves and they don’t lie – at least not about something as important as this. So to hear the facts straight up I had the parents in Administration ask their children what the real truth was so that I could communicate back to the CJW family. I go on to share my commentary about their insights. This is what they said:Brandons-1

Moss (8 years) son of Brandon Haushalter Johnston-Willis CEO: “We leave out a magic key for our house for Santa (ever year) .” I appreciate that Moss is most concerned with the fact that his house has no chimney. It makes perfect sense to be worried. If this doesn’t prove he is real then I don’t know what else to tell you. Clearly Santa needs a key to get into the house because his father, one of our fearless leaders, wouldn’t splurge on a proper chimney.

Gibby Haushalter (3 years): “I like Santa’s elves .” Who doesn’t love elves? I am clearly a big fan. Tim Buddy Elf-1








Dallas HawkinsDallas Hawkins (9 years) son of Roy Hawkins COO at Johnston-Willis: “Snow in Florida! (His previous home state.) Wow – there is snow in Florida but only on Christmas in the Hawkins household. Why is there snow only on Christmas? Santa comes to our home on Christmas day and leaves footprints of snow on the floor. That’s right…it snows in Florida on Christmas day and I’m excited to see it snow in Virginia too!”  It is obvious the kids of Florida have the advantage of a workaround too.

Max McManus (12 years): “I always have a really hard time sleeping on Christmas Eve night. I can only sleep for two hours because I am so nervous and excited. I really want a sleeping pill this year – that isn’t a joke Dad—I need one.” (Request was denied.) If Santa wasn’t real would you really want to stay up all night to see what he brought you?

Tim Kids DCGeorgia McManus (10 years): “I like waking up in bed and get really excited thinking that I have presents to open and I get to watch other people open presents I give them. It is great to watch them open my presents. I remember one time Santa visited us in our house and his coat had reindeer buttons and he had a watch that was able to tell us if we were naughty or nice. I was nice.” I particularly like this one because it is about the spirit of giving which, of course, is at the heart of the mystery of Santa.

Ava McManus (8 years): “My favorite thing is to come out of my room Christmas morning and look down from the landing at the presents below to see what Santa has brought in the night. The worst part is my parents stop us to take a lot of pictures.” Her anxiousness is great evidence in Santa being real. Why would she get excited to look down if she thought it was just the same presents from the day before?

IMG_2721Caden Christianson (7 years) Son of Chad Christianson COO at Chippenham: “I love that Santa sends his elf, Bernard, from the North Pole to our house before Christmas. He hides all over the house and tells Santa the good things we do…and bad but I don’t do bad.”  I had forgotten about all the important helpers who are the key ingredient to help Santa be accurate and keep us all accountable.

Chance Christianson (4 year): “I love the candy canes and the cookies…. and the presents .” Doesn’t get any more obvious that Santa is real than when he is keenly tuned into Chance’s Christmas needs.

Cannon Christianson (12 months old): No comment. Strangely he doesn’t remember Christmas 2014.

FishDayton Strader (20 years) Son of Lynn Strader CFO: “My favorite tradition is our family’s Christmas Eve night and my best Santa memory was getting a 4-wheeler and a dog, Agi.”  Most parents know that getting a dog just puts more work on the parent. Commonsense says you just wouldn’t do that so Santa must have been involved.



Payne StraderPayne Strader: (24 years) “My favorite tradition is church on Christmas Eve, breakfast casserole, and family all around Christmas morning.” I don’t have additional commentary on this regarding Santa but it does show you Lynn our CFO actually has a sensitive heart and a soul—she isn’t just all Finance after all.

So there you have it. Clear and compelling evidence that Santa does in fact exist. So I ask you to please help me squash this vicious, malicious, and highly inaccurate rumor at CJW. I hope you and your families have a great Holiday Season and thank you for all that you do to make our hospitals a great place to work and get care.

Buddy the Elf Hits the Streets of RVA

There is no question that the holiday season is in full gear. I hope you had a chance to enjoy the great food served at both hospitals for the special holiday meal catered by Mosaic Catering. On a similar festive note, Susan Wingler, nurse director at Johnston-Willis, took the initiative to enter Johnston-Willis HIMG_1505ospital in the annual Richmond Dominion Christmas Parade with a float. It was built by the facilities and maintenance team and decorated by many nurses and staff members from the hospital. This parade attracts over 10,000 people to downtown Richmond. I decided this was the perfect opportunity for my impersonation of Buddy the Elf to make a 2015 debut. Buddy was a great compliment to our pediatric mascot, Hoppy the Frog. The whole Johnston-Willis team got lots of exposure on CBS6 news as the parade was broadcast live in front of the Science Museum.

imageIt was a great day to enjoy time with our hospital family and our Richmond community. My favorite email of the year came from this event. IMG_1506A person at the parade sent an email to HCA Corporate in Nashville which got routed to me saying, “I attended the Dominion Christmas Parade last Saturday here in Richmond, VA. HCA had a guy dressed as Buddy from the movie Elf. I am trying to locate him to see if I could hire him.” I am a strong believer that everyone should have a back-up career plan so I now know mine. I felt obligated to write her back so my reply was, “Your email request below to HCA to hire Buddy the Elf got forwarded to me and made me smile. I am in fact the Buddy you reference. Thankfully I have a day job as CEO of Chippenham & Johnston-Willis Hospitals. I suspect I would enjoy being Buddy more than working at a hospital as he no doubt carries a lot less stress in life and has a perpetual optimistic view. Hope you have a great holiday season.”

Next week I will be sharing some favorite Christmas memories from the children of the administration team. I would love to have you ask your kids about their favorite holiday memory as a child so that you can share it on that blog post.

One Last Dance


Doreatha Rice

Working in a hospital certainly takes you through all the emotions of life, sometimes in a single day. Our teams get to see the joy of patients recovering as well as the sorrow of patients passing. I want to share my star of the week who was recognized during the Q4 CEO town hall meeting. We recently had a patient who was at Johnston-Willis on 2 North and placed on hospice care after a prolonged illness. This is a difficult situation for everyone, from the patient and their family, to the staff caring for them. One staff member, Doreatha Rice, a nursing assistant, went above and beyond to exceed the expectations for the patient. One of this patient’s final wishes was for one last dance. Doreatha kindly obliged and danced with the patient while the family watched. The patient has since passed away and the family still comes by these units to thank the nursing team for all their wonderful care. Doreatha goes above and beyond both at work and off duty; in her free time, she can be found taking meals to the homeless. This is what Live Excellence looks like to me. Thank you Doreatha for being a hero when it was needed most.

Gracie’s Story

Every once in a while a patient story comes to light that has the lasting power to remind you how precious life is, not only for those living it but also the loved ones who have surrounded that life. Gracie Hazleton is one such extraordinary story.

Gracie School Pic

Gracie’s school picture

Gracie was born in 1997 with significant medical challenges including Arthrogryposis, a rare condition that impacts many parts of the body. Her condition set into motion a life challenged with Gracie being non-ambulatory, non-verbal, in addition to numerous significant orthopedic issues and low muscle tone. She spent the next fifteen years going through countless surgeries, ER visits, hospital admissions, and outpatient appointments to try to manage and improve in every way possible. Despite these challenges, Gracie was extremely tuned in and engaged to her environment. While she couldn’t speak in words she was able to communicate by using pictures and facial expressions to show her bright personality. She was always known for being happy, fun, and, according to her mom, she was even flirtatious with the boys.

IMG_1550Gracie’s parents, Elizabeth and Rob, went on to have two more healthy children in subsequent years and adapted to challenges one at a time for Gracie’s medical condition. As you can imagine, the significant health issues at times limited more traditional family activities, like travel and vacations, but it didn’t dampen the close-nit family bond that had been created over many years. The whole family went on a few manageable trips like the beach and Williamsburg. In an effort to expose the two younger boys to areas outside of the Richmond Region, the family infrequently utilized respite care which provides for 24 hour care for a short period of time. Respite care is an incredible gift for parents who have to normally be on watch 24 hours a day for the child with significant disabilities. In 2012, when Gracie was 15 years old, her parents took the boys to Wyoming and placed Gracie in respite care. Unfortunately, while they were away Gracie choked and was rushed to Chippenham Hospital. This was her first visit to Chippenham based on her family’s home being farther away in Henrico County. Due to limited airline options her parents were unable to get home for a day and half. Luckily extended family soon arrived and immediately got immersed in Gracie’s care, in addition to her parents remotely as they desperately tried to come back to Richmond.

The clinical team at Chippenham’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, under the leadership of two extraordinary Pediatric Intensivists, Dr. Alam and Dr. Batista, worked tirelessly to do all that they could for Gracie. It soon became evident that she wouldn’t make it. The family had always believed in organ donation and with the hospital’s help got connected to Lifenet Health and started the process. Gracie’s parents quickly realized how great both the hospital and the Lifenet teams were through their difficult time. Elizabeth commented, “The Chippenham team managed the chaos beautifully. The nurses were extraordinary.” The decision was made to remove her breathing tube on August 15th. One of the care team suggested that if the two brothers (8 and 12 years old at the time) wished they could lie on each side of her on the bed as she was extubated. They were used to lying next to her as it was something they would do frequently at home. The just jumped up onto the bed right away and were by her side for her last breaths. Today that difficult experience is one of the things they cherish most about her final days. The surgical team was able to successfully harvest her liver and one kidney along with other tissues to save other lives. Gracie’s mother shared with me, “We had never been to Chippenham Hospital before that experience. Today we have positive feelings about what happened here. The process was a step in the right direction through a difficult time to help parents heal. The staff made a point to prepare Gracie for her family’s visit so she would look her best. It was an ending but clearly also a new beginning.”kids

Gracie’s parents decided this summer after three years to put together some of the pictures that the Lifenet photographer had assembled through the last period of her life. She made a video to share with others not just to remember the wonderful child they knew and loved but also to share the importance of organ donation. I encourage you to take a look:

You will notice that Amazing Grace is played in the background. Listening to Elizabeth tell me about the amazing life of Gracie Hazleton makes it an exceptional choice. Gracie’s 12 year old brother played the song on the piano during her funeral to remind everyone how fortunate and lucky they were to have her in their lives.

We often don’t want to think of organ donation but it is one of the most impactful decisions we can ever make. I encourage you to formally make it a part of your plan. You can learn more by going to