Friday, May 14, 2021

Hospitals have made great improvements in their systems

This week (May 9-15) is National Hospital Week. The American Hospital Association has designated this year’s theme as “Inspiring Hope through Healing.” During this week, we thank all our team – physicians, nurses, therapists, engineers, food service workers, environmental service workers, volunteers, administrators, and our support staff for their efforts to drive us towards our vision. I am very grateful for all that our hospital team does every day.

I have been reflecting a lot recently about the improvements made over the last decade in hospital care. At GBMC, and in other hospitals across our nation, hospital-acquired harm has been significantly reduced. We have many fewer catheter-associated urinary tract infections, central line-associated bloodstream infections, ventilator-associated pneumonias, wound infections, and we have seen improvements in the rate of many other harms. How did we achieve this? Well, we have always had fabulous clinicians, but now they work in better designed systems. As an example, we now have standard work for the introduction and maintenance of urinary catheters. It is this standard work, carried out by well-trained and hard- working physicians, nurses, and other clinicians, that has led to the reduction in catheter-associated urinary tract infections. 

It was not that long ago that other industries looked down on healthcare because of the unreliability of our systems. Now, much of healthcare design is as good as or better than other industries in the private sector. This weekend, I had a less than optimal experience with U-Haul. I was moving a family member to a new city as she is about to start a new job. We had ordered the truck, a dolly, a hand-truck, and two packs of furniture pads online several weeks before the move. Last Friday, we got a call that the U-Haul dealer that we had ordered the truck from to say that they would not have a truck the next morning at 7 a.m. as promised. They told us to go to another dealer that didn’t open until 10 a.m. When we arrived at the other dealer dutifully at 10 a.m., we were told by an adjacent merchant that they didn’t open until 10:30 or 11 a.m. When the U-Haul employees finally arrived, they told us that they had a truck but no hand-truck or dolly. We took the truck without the other helpful equipment because we had no other choice. 

This experience reminded me of the adage attributed to Dr. Paul Batalden, one of the early leaders of the healthcare quality movement: “Every system is perfectly designed to get exactly the results that it gets.” U-Haul has some work to do on its systems. I am happy that hospitals have made great progress on their systems, especially at GBMC. I am also glad that during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the community has developed a renewed sense of the value of hospitals to the community. 

On Wednesday, we celebrated our employees with our annual ice cream distribution and Hospital Week gifts. I want to thank Richelle Tighe, Executive Assistant, to Anna-Maria Palmer, our Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, for putting together the social and for doing her part to spread joy within our system. 

Thank you!
May is also Critical Care Awareness and Recognition Month. It is a time to recognize critical care teams across our country. Again, it is particularly important to thank our ICU physicians, nurses and other clinicians for taking care of the very sick during the pandemic. 

I would like to extend my thanks to our critical care team!

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