Among the things I have most enjoyed during my last few years in a leadership role are what we call “walk rounds.” These are occasional but regularly scheduled walks around the campus to “check in” with the front line personnel in a stock room, a kitchen, a research lab or on a hospital floor - wherever people are working to advance our missions.
I can spend the better part of most days in meetings and get a lot done, but walk rounds provide a refreshing reality check - a concrete reminder of what we do, why it's important and - often - what your thoughts are on how we can improve.
That's why I'm so pleased with the development of “Leadership Rounds.” Originating last October with Dr. Mike Henderson and Dr. Charles O'Mara out of our Quality and Patient Safety Program, Leadership Rounds brings together a diverse group of about 100 senior clinical and administrative leaders once a month to round in our hospitals and other clinical sites at the Medical Center.
In groups of three, we fan out for hour-long visits with the objective of asking questions of staff and patients, listening, and then bringing what we've learned back to discuss with the larger group.
Questions like, Does our staff feel supported? Are our processes working as they should to support optimal clinical care and patient safety? Do our patients feel not only cared for, but cared about?
On rounds, we UNCOVER equipment that needs repair, processes that need to be tweaked, floors that need cleaning. But we also DISCOVER, once again, committed professionals going the extra mile, a common spirit committed to excellence, and patients who are grateful for extraordinary care.
There was no better evidence of this than on my last Leadership Rounds when I had the opportunity to visit 2 South in the adult hospital. My group encountered a patient who'd just had a kidney transplant. After years of enduring daily dialysis treatments, she was already feeling better and was overjoyed at the prospect of being liberated from her grim daily regimen. If I ever wanted proof that UMMC is changing lives for the better, I need look no further than 2 South that day. The “voice of the patient” came through loud and clear, as you can read about here.
Leadership Rounds promote engagement, communication and a collective focus on improving the processes that contribute to exemplary patient care. They are one component of a broader effort that is driving us toward our goal of becoming a High Reliability Organization. The rounds work best - and I mean this sincerely - when the staff and patients are completely candid in sharing their best ideas about how we can improve.
I find that Leadership Rounds help me keep two important things in perspective.
The first is that when it comes to taking care of the patient, there is usually a clear and focused "right" thing to do. There may be hurdles in the way of getting there, some of our own making, but at least it helps to have agreement on what needs to be done. In a world that's rarely black and white, but mostly shades of gray, having this one area of clarity is comforting.
The second thing I'm reminded of is that with our nurses, doctors and support staff on the job, we are in good hands. Invariably, your knowledge, confidence, commitment and compassion shine through. Thank you.
I always return from Leadership Rounds with a renewed clarity of what truly matters and a renewed commitment to do my best to support the thousands of you who advance our health-care mission. And that spirit fuels me for the work ahead, as we all strive for A Healthier Mississippi.