"The Ronan Report" provides insight about the activities at the Western Maryland Health System in Cumberland, Maryland, and about the changes taking place in healthcare today from a CEO's perspective.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Hospital Patients are Watching and Listening

Over the holidays, I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my daughter Jessica and her husband Terrell, who is a very recent cancer survivor.  Anyone who has read my blogs since last February knows of the challenges that these two individuals have gone through.  I have blogged that they became my heroes after what they have endured.  My hero worshipping continues.  

Over breakfast one day last week, we were talking about Terrell returning to his job today on a full-time basis.  I asked if he was ready for all of the challenges that he would face on his first day back to work at Pulte Homes. (By the way, a wonderful company to work for in how they treated Terrell during his nine-month battle with cancer last year).  He said that he was, but that he would be approaching his job very differently this time around.  

After spending well over 100 days hospitalized receiving chemotherapy and having his knee and partial femur replaced as a result of the cancer, he made a very valuable observation during his many hospitalizations. He realized that he had an expectation to be cared for in the most effective and efficient way possible.  His caregivers recognized that and they managed his expectations, but they also did everything possible to meet his needs, requests and demands as a patient.  

He learned that same thinking can be translated to his position as a project manager for a new housing development in Charleston, SC.  His new homeowners have an expectation to have a "perfect" home built for them.  Previously, he felt that these new homeowners were being overly demanding and unrealistic.  He has since realized that no one was managing their expectations and that they have every right to expect a perfect home.  Starting today, the new approach to his job will be to deliver the best possible new home to each new homeowner and, if something isn't right, to make every effort to ensure that it is right.

Pamela said that my face lit up, as I could immediately identify with Terrell's new approach to customer service.  Many years ago when I was Director of Materials Management in a large teaching hospital, I needed an attitude adjustment.  I felt that nursing was taking advantage of my employees with their demands and that they were not carrying out their duties and responsibilities as it related to interactions with my departments.  Then, my office was temporarily re-located to a patient unit while construction of my new office occurred.  It turned out to be a few of the best months of my professional life.  I quickly realized that there were unbelievable demands that were being placed on nursing by patients, family members, physicians and their leadership; many of which were unrealistic with no recognition of that fact.  The staff nurses were being pulled in every direction and orders were written with the expectation that they were filled immediately.  The entire experience was a learning revelation for me and just as quickly for my staff.  I immediately changed our approach in working with nursing.  I took members of my leadership team on rounds and walked them through why our role was changing.  I showed them why we were there to now serve nursing as they cared for our patients.  My staff got it pretty quickly and I become beloved by nursing.  

As Terrell returns to work today, he will be asking if he can lead an inservice for his division's employees on what it takes to be truly customer service focused.  Awesome and because of what he experienced as a patient in seeing how important service engagement can really be, his company and homeowners will be very well served as a result.

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