The Journey to Excellence
All this week we have been celebrating UMMC’s first-ever Employee Appreciation Week. Traditionally this time was reserved for Hospital Week, but we’ve broadened it this year to include all of our missions and facilities. It follows on the heels of Nurses Week, when we celebrate the countless contributions of our fabulous nurses throughout our system.
I think the transition from Hospital Week to encompass all employees is a wonderful decision, because it serves to emphasize that we are one team with one overall objective of improving the health of our state’s citizens. Regardless of where you serve within UMMC, you are contributing to the achievement of that overall goal.
We’ve had a full slate of activities this week, with an emphasis on wellness and healthy lifestyles. Among the highlights were a Farmer’s Market, a “Healing Arts” performance and the always spectacular Gurney Races. (I’m thankful that we’ve completed several years of races without the need for any trips to the Emergency Department!) A big thanks goes to the UMMC Alliance and President Shana Cook for sponsoring Employee Appreciation Week this year.
It’s been said many times by many people but it bears repeating: Our people are our No. 1 asset. Anything good that we are able to do for patients, for students or for the wider community is done through you individually, and in most cases, as a member of a larger team.
What I really appreciate is that you not only do your job and do it well, but that you are working with us to constantly do it better. The quest for quality and high reliability is becoming second nature, part of who we are.
This awareness of the importance of continual improvement could not come at a better time. Our world of health care is changing, driven primarily by the need to provide measurably higher quality at lower cost. This is the value equation. Organizations that are able to make this transition and continually provide higher value are going to survive and thrive, and those who don’t will falter.
This fact of life is not limited to the clinical enterprise. It applies to our other missions as well. And it applies to all the support services that serve our missions, since the cost of these are embedded in our services. Particularly in health care, but also in education and research, there is a growing urgency to provide greater value in what we do.
We are making good progress. For example, in little more than two years we’ve increased our overall hand hygiene compliance by 60 percent and reduced our incidence of hospital-acquired infections – which correlates to hand hygiene – by more than half. These results were achieved through careful evaluation and fine-tuning of our processes and rigorous measurement of the results. We still have work to do in both these areas and we know how to move the numbers.
We took another step forward this week on our journey toward becoming a high reliability organization when over seventy Health System leaders attended a Robust Process Improvement kickoff meeting. The meeting concentrated on work done during the last three years on the tools, methods and training programs that can improve operational and financial processes across the institution. In consultation with the Center for Transforming Healthcare, the meeting was a logical step toward our goal of reaching HRO status. Our commitment to being a more dynamic, efficient business must run parallel to our dedication to quality improvement.
At the same time that we are focused on process improvement, we are also taking steps to improve the patient experience. So much of that work revolves around our communication with patients and their families and removing the hassles they encounter when using our services. Based on patient surveys, we are making progress there, too, even though we have a long way to go.
On my walk rounds recently I have been uplifted by the positive energy and good spirit I have encountered just passing people in the halls. I attribute a large part of that to the fact that we have accepted the challenges to change and improve. Constantly striving for excellence can be its own reward.
I hope you were able to take advantage of some of the special treats that were lined up for this Employee Appreciation Week. Just know that my appreciation for you and your commitment to improvement cannot be confined to a single week or even a single year. It’s a constant presence on our shared journey toward A Healthier Mississippi.