"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.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Pinnacle Award

Last evening, we celebrated our Values in Action awardees from May 2014 through April 2015 (aka Employees of the Month).  The 12 awardees are invited to bring family, friends and co-workers to join with them in the celebration.  The evening culminates with selecting one of them as the Pinnacle Award winner (or Employee of the Year).  

The Values in Action Committee has to select the Pinnacle Awardee, which is a very challenging job.  These employees do some amazing things on the job as well as in their personal lives; they are truly stars.  We are so fortunate to have many of these types of individuals throughout WMHS and the Trivergent Health Alliance.  

Well, last evening our Pinnacle Award winner was Leona McTaggert, Activities Coordinator at Frostburg Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (FNRC).  She is the first Pinnacle Award winner from FRNC and we are thrilled with the outcome.  To hear her co-workers and residents say such wonderful things about her is so rewarding.  They say when she walks in the building or a room, she lights it up.  Leona goes above and beyond day after day to bring joy to lives of the FNRC residents, and we are honored to have her at FNRC.  

The Value in Action Awardees
May 2014             
     Lois Cook - Information Technology
June 2014            
     Adele Rice - Behavioral Health
July 2014             
     Jane Adams, RN - Hospice
August 2014        
     Kevin Niemeyer - BioMedical Engineering
September 2014  
     Barbara Lamberson - WMHS Clinics and Practices
October 2014       
     Kim Jackson - Care Coordination
November 2014   
     Jeffrey  Hobbs, RN - Emergency Department
December 2014    
     Leona McTaggart - Frostburg Nursing and Rehabilitation Center
January 2015       
     Anita "Chere" Thacker, RN - Medical Oncology
February 2015      
     Mary Walker, Environmental Services
March 2015          
     Laura Lepley - WMHS Clinics and Practices
April 2015            
     Jill Mazzeo - Financial Services

I had the honor of presenting the Pinnacle Award to Leona,
along withKevin Turley, Vice President of Operations.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Cause and Effect of Standing Down

It was evident on Monday afternoon, evening and night that the Baltimore City Police were ordered to stand down.  On Tuesday morning, there were numerous police experts commenting on news shows as to the embarrassment that they felt for their brothers and sisters in blue.  Being pelted with rocks, bottles, bricks, paint cans and trash cans on fire and not being able to do anything.  Allowing businesses to be looted and burned to the ground and not being able to do anything, but just stand there.  The comments and actions, or lack thereof, from the leadership at Baltimore's City Hall will have ramifications for years to come.  By allowing the lawlessness to occur and the Mayor actually saying things like "we gave those who wish to destroy the space to do it" and the Police Commissioner saying "people ask why we didn't act faster--these are 14, 15 and 16 year old kids who should know better but they are still kids, we had to take that into consideration."  The businesses in Baltimore will pay dearly for those comments as well as the actions of those "kids" primarily with ridiculously high insurance premiums.

Even those businesses that were not affected will see their premiums rise significantly.  Someone will have to pay for those astronomical claims that the insurers will have to pay to those businesses affected by the riots or those that simply has their business interrupted due to safety concerns, closures or curfews.  Every time there is a report of a hurricane, home owners in hurricane prone areas receive a premium hike in their wind, hail and flood insurance almost instantaneously.  I exaggerate, but not by much.  These businesses will be severely impacted in so many ways: decisions to rebuild / reopen; can I afford to stay in business; do I relocate to a safer section of the city; will the police and City Hall have my back the next time; will tourism and conventions dry up for the next several years; the questions are endless.

I am not one to openly criticize another executive unless I have walked in their shoes.  I have never dealt with riots, thank God.  I have learned that although you can't prepare for every possible situation, you have to be as well prepared as you possibly can; that didn't seem to be the case on Monday.  One would have thought that after Ferguson, Missouri, every big city would have gone to school on what happened there and had a plan to address rioting, looting, lawlessness, etc.  I have also learned that under such circumstances you need to be heavily scripted and well prepared when dealing with the media; that too didn't seem to be the case in Baltimore.  I have admired Mayor Rawlings- Blake from a far since she won her last election with 86% of the vote.  The last week was, if anything, a great learning experience for the leaders of Baltimore.  Hopefully, all will go to school on what happened and Baltimore will be a much better city as a result.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Being Mortal

At our most recent Board meeting, all Board members and administration
were asked to read "Being Mortal" by Atul Gwande, MD.  The book was an
easy read and everyone enjoyed it.  It was somewhat depressing in that it
focused on aging and dying, but the discussion was extremely beneficial
and most useful for the management team in addressing both issues.  I
would highly recommend the book, especially if you have aging parents and
are trying to figure out how to best work with them during these
challenging years. There is also a link to Dr. Gwande's PBS Special on
Being Mortal that focused on the aspects of his book associated with
dying.  It too is worth watching.  We had lots of great ideas come out of
our Board discussions.  We have our work cut out for us, but both are
critical aspects of the care delivery model, which we are continually
assessing for change.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Wind Energy

Let me be clear, I am not a fan of wind energy.  Actually, it's not the energy that is generated from the wind that I take issue with; it's the wind turbines that are an eyesore.  We are promoting tourism as one of western Maryland's leading industries, yet we keep doting our mountain tops and beautiful vistas with these massive intrusions.  If I were a property owner at Deep Creek Lake, which is so beautiful, and these beautiful vistas were spoiled with wind turbines, I would not be happy.
Last week, I attended a Greater Cumberland Committee meeting and heard a presentation by David Friend of Laurel Renewable Partners on the Dan's Mountain Wind Farm Project.  David appeared to be a nice guy who loves his job.  However, with every word he spoke, I could hear my property value decline.  Okay, so maybe I am exaggerating a bit.  The Wind Farm is to be located atop Dan's Mountain, and I live in the foothills of that mountain range.  We are far enough away (I hope) but as I drive down Route 220 and look up, it's hard to spot the cellphone towers atop the mountain.  I am sure that won't be the case when it is populated with anywhere from 17 to 25 three-hundred foot towers with turbines and blades sitting on top of the mountain range.  If I am not mistaken, the wind turbines will be south of the cellphone towers. (Fortunately for me, I am north of the cellphone towers).

The construction and erection process explained by David was interesting.  First, they have to build access roads to the top of the mountain.  They then have to dig a diameter of 50 feet, add steel and cement, then backfill.  Erection of the 300 foot tower then begins, along with construction of substations and collection systems.  If all goes well with permits and approvals, there will be a wind farm atop Dan's Mountain by early 2016.  

The good news associated with the wind farm would be local construction, operations and ancillary jobs, road improvements, lease payments to land owners, $1 million in tax revenue annually and Allegany County requires a $150K bond for decommissioning, although the cost to decommission is around $25K. Now for the bad news...........THEY ARE EYESORES!!!!  My guess is that this wind farm will become reality.  How can the County pass up $1 million in annual tax revenues?  Anyway, thanks for giving me the opportunity to vent.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Volunteer Week

Guest Blogger
Patricia Wright, Director, Volunteer Services
Western Maryland Health System

President Richard Nixon established National Volunteer Week with an executive order in 1974 as a way to recognize and celebrate the efforts of volunteers.  Every sitting U.S. president since Nixon has issued a proclamation during National Volunteer Week (as have many U.S. mayors and governors).  This year, National Volunteer Week is designated for April 12 through 18.

To highlight the importance of volunteers to WMHS, I would like to offer some impressive statistics.  We currently have 441 volunteers, serving both the hospital proper and throughout the community; and in 2014, we recorded 22,885 hours of volunteer service.  Some areas where volunteers are visible and vital to achieving our mission include our information giving areas, the Gift Shop, Parish Nursing, Hospice, Prayer Partners, Eucharistic Ministers and office volunteers.  In 2014, our office volunteers created a total of 42,516 packets of material that were used for anesthesia charts, GI charts, heart surgery charts and others.  Volunteers in the main lobby area of the hospital on average answer around 1,500 inquiries in any given month.

Our newest volunteer opportunity is a Pet Therapy program aimed at enhancing the environment for our patients and visitors.  Pet therapy has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, provide a source of comfort and decrease loneliness.

All volunteers, including pets and their handlers, are processed through volunteer services.  Volunteers are subject to the same onboarding processes as paid employees, to include an application, interview, orientation, background check and health appraisal prior to starting service at WMHS.  Our volunteer application and process can be found on our website at www.wmhs.com/volunteers.html.

Volunteering is a rewarding way to support your neighbors and our hospital.  With so many avenues of service available, we feel everyone has a talent to give.  Won’t you consider sharing yours with us?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Guest Blogging

I am finding it more and more difficult to blog on a daily basis so, I am adding a new dimension to the Ronan Report - guest blogging.  Next week, there will be a blog by Patty Wright, the WMHS Director of Volunteers, on National Volunteer Week - April 12 through 18.  Going forward, if you have an interest in submitting a guest blog, please let me know.  I will take a look at your blog and have my handlers take a look as well.  If it looks good and has a relevancy to what we do, then you're in.  Thanks in advance for considering the offer and have a great weekend.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

My Article About Value-Based Care

The Governance Institute is a national organization that serves not-for-profit hospital and health system boards of directors, executives and physician leadership.  It provides research, publications, conferences and advisory services.  They were kind enough to publish an article that I wrote on value-based care delivery and how it has impacted care delivery in our community.  I have attached the article for you to read.  I would appreciate any feedback on the article and value-based care delivery.  

Friday, April 3, 2015

Maryland Patient Safety Center's Distinguished Achievement Award

At the annual meeting of the Maryland Patient Safety Center, WMHS received the Distinguished Achievement Award in Patient Safety Innovation for all of our work in meeting the challenge of health change.  We have introduced a number of initiatives for improved patient care and safety innovation over the last few years, and it is nice to be recognized for our accomplishments.  

Two years ago, we won the Maryland Patient Safety Center's Minogue Award and last year we won its Circle of Honor award.  Congratulations to a great team of people who are committed to a care delivery model that is truly changing the lives of those we serve.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Casino, Our Pet Therapist

I had the privilege of meeting Western Maryland Health System's first pet therapist today.  As you can see from the photo, Casino (on the left, just in case you haven't seen me in a while) is the first participant in our newly rolled out pet therapy program.  Casino is the sweetest Lab that you would want to meet.  She came into a room of about 80 of us at the beginning of our department directors' meeting and she fell in love with everyone and everyone with her.  A lot has gone into creating our pet therapy program but now it is finally off the ground.  We have another addition to the program, a Newfoundlander who will be handled by one of our ED staff members, Steve Meyer; and 2 or 3 other dogs are going through the application process.  We have a new well defined policy on the do's and don't's for our pet therapists and their handlers; but for one who was initially opposed to the program, I am now embracing it.