"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.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

CCR Receives National Recogntion

Each year, Premier, a health care performance improvement alliance of over 3,600 US hospitals in which WMHS is a member, accepts nominations for its annual Cares Award.  The award is given to providers who support specific populations who may be underserved or disenfranchised by mainstream health care delivery systems.  Some examples of these individuals would be migrant farm workers, the homeless, low-income moms and infants, the sickest of the sick who don’t have the means to receive care, or children in need.  WMHS was a winner of the award in 2005.  
This year, WMHS submitted an entry and we were notified last fall that we were one of six finalists for the award.  Our submission was for the Center for Clinical Resources where we care for the sickest of the sick.  Usually, individuals with multiple co-morbidities such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, hypertension and COPD are patients of the Center, which is staffed by nurse practitioners, nurses, pharmacists, dietitians,  respiratory therapists, patient navigators, and community health workers.  All of these services are provided at no cost to the patient.  Our goal is to keep these patients as healthy as possible and reduce their need for hospital services.  The Center has been an overwhelming success in saving millions of dollars through reduced admissions, readmissions, ED visits and ancillary utilization. But most importantly, it is having a profound impact on the lives of these patients and their families.
The award was presented last evening in Miami, Florida, at Premier's annual conference, and the winning program provides services to migrant farm workers in Austin, Texas.  Although we didn’t receive the Cares Award, we receive national recognition and a check for $24,000 for being a finalist.  Not a bad consolation prize.

Congratulations to all who have been such an integral part of the Center for Clinical Resources since its inception.  Thank you for a job so very well done and the national recognition that you have brought to WMHS.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Frostburg Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and its CMS Five Star Rating

We just learned that our skilled nursing facility, Frostburg Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, has been designated as a five-star rated facility by CMS. To the best of everyone's recollection, this is a first. With our overall quality being rated five-stars, it means a great deal to our FNRC staff who have worked so very hard to achieve such a designation. Congratulations to Kevin Turley, VP Operations, and the rest of the FRNRC team on a job very well done.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Purposeful Rounding

The WMHS Executive Management team had a time-well-spent experience yesterday.  The team met for lunch with our Patient Experience and Culture Department, and we were briefed on the latest venture at WMHS, Purposeful Rounding.  Wow, what an afternoon! 
The process was reviewed with all of us; we received our pairing teams and our assigned units and off we went.  Nancy Adams, Chief Operating Officer / Chief Nurse Executive, and I were paired together…………..luck of the draw certainly for me.  We visited around a half dozen patients during our rounds and asked them about aspects of their stay. We asked about their care; whether or not we were meeting their expectations; did they find the whiteboard useful in their room; if they were being discharged, had the discharge instructions been reviewed with them and did they understand them; what more could be done to improve their patient experience; have we been responsive to their needs; did they or their family members have any issues or concerns that we could address; what was the level of noise that they have been experiencing especially at night; were they satisfied with the cleanliness of their room and do they have any immediate needs that we could assist them with.  
During our visits, some of the information that patients and families shared is as followed: we heard about our great nurses and some not so great staff; call light responsiveness, both the good and the bad; that we need TVs in every room in the ED; bed cleaning needs to be enhanced, especially in the evenings and at night so patients can get to their rooms faster; we need real decaf coffee on the units, not Sanka; the newly redesigned information booklets that patients are receiving are full of great information; that we have to be careful as to what we say about our patients at any time, but especially within earshot of a them; ED docs were great; some housekeeping issues exist that need to be addressed; ice in the water pitchers would be nice; that we need to do a better job of getting patients discharged once we tell them that they are going home; and that even though discharge instructions have been reviewed and explained that they may not be fully understood.
Nancy and I also had the opportunity to interact with a number of physicians while rounding.  They also exchanged great information and we will be addressing some of their issues as well.
We then returned to meet as a group and shared the information that was gleaned by each team.  We now have a treasure trove of information.  Some of the issues and concerns can be addressed immediately and some may take some time, but none of the information that was gleaned is out of our realm of accomplishment.  
We will be doing Purposeful Rounding on a monthly basis using the same format and expanding it to others in the organization.  This type of rounding will be a supplement to the rounding that occurs on a daily / weekly basis by members of the Executive Management team.  

As stated in the introduction, yesterday afternoon was time very well spent!  Thank you all for an experience that will now be hardwired into our culture at WMHS.

Friday, January 8, 2016

It's That Time Again

January brings a new year and a renewed commitment to get our lives in order.  Each year many of us make resolutions that we unfortunately break shortly thereafter.  I came across this article that I found to be most beneficial for those of us who do make resolutions.  These resolutions for the most part seem to be easily achievable as they are one-time events. It’s not that you couldn't do some of them multiple times throughout the year, like doing something else that you have always been afraid to do or telling more than one person how awesome they really are. 

I hope that you enjoy the list as much as I did.  I have already knocked off quite a few, but I am having a bit of trouble with number 12.  Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015: A Year In Review

All that I can say is WOW, what a year!  Throughout our 19-year history, WMHS has had so many successes from our very tumultuous beginning and then evolving to our current state of success to the acquisition of Frostburg Hospital 20 years ago and creating what is now Frostburg Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to building a new hospital and opening it in 2009 to our value-based care delivery model, which is now in its sixth year while the rest of the hospitals outside of Maryland begin to introduce a similar delivery model.  

For 2015, we have continued as the region's largest employer, we still have an economic impact on the region of over $350 million annually, we provide tens of millions in community benefit each year and we have demonstrated solid financial performance over the last three fiscal years.  

What has been significantly different about 2015 has been the amount of recognition that we have received for our quality and patient safety at WMHS.  We were recognized as best in Maryland in the Quality Reimbursement Program and as a top performer in hand hygiene.  We received awards from the Maryland Patient Safety Center for Distinguished Achievement in Patient Safety, the National Cardiovascular Data Registry for performance measure scores in acute myocardial patients, recognized by Healthgrades in five categories including Excellence Awards in Patient Safety and Cardiac Surgery, ranked by US News and World Report as 11th out of Maryland's 46 hospitals and first in Western Maryland and honored by the March of Dimes, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Maryland Patient Safety Center for improving the quality of care provided to mothers and babies.  

In late 2014, we also received recognition through the Total Patient Revenue Collaborative by the American Hospital Association through the awarding of their Living the Vision Award.  For the first time in our almost two decade history, we were also recognized by AHA as one of the country's Most Wired Hospitals.

For 2016, we are finalists for two nationally recognized quality awards, but since we are still in a communication blackout period, I am not permitted to disclose the awards.  These achievements and recognition haven't come easily as we have spent years preparing the organization for success.  We are so fortunate to have so many dedicated individuals who are committed to being the best at what they do.  

As I have blogged previously, we are not perfect and we do make mistakes.  Our goal is to learn from these mistakes and bring improvement to our programs and services.  If 2015 is any indication, we have made significant inroads in bringing improvement to the care that we deliver system wide.  Have a Blessed New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Thinking Out of the Box

On December 24th, Fierce Healthcare published a blog that they asked me to write related to the impact WMHS is having on our community.  The blog was limited in the number of words so my examples were limited in demonstrating how we are impacting the community through our out-of-the-box thinking related to meeting the community's needs through our unique care delivery model.  

In my blog, I used examples related to Bridges to Opportunity, the Imagination Library and our community garden.  However, there are so many more examples of how we have applied that out-of-the-box thinking in addressing the social as well as health needs of our community. These include 

  • providing 30 days of free medications to patients as they are discharged
  • embedding care coordinators and navigators in clinics and practices,
  • providing free care through our Center for Clinical Resources to the sickest of the sick who are suffering from diabetes, CHF, COPD and/or hypertension
  • placing doctors and nurse practitioners to care for patients in skilled nursing homes
  • expanding primary care throughout the region
  • using Community Health Workers to visit patients in their homes to ensure that they are living in a safe environment and that their needs are being met
  • performing tele-monitoring for select patients in their homes to check their blood glucose levels, their BP, their weight, etc.
  • partnering with agencies such as Allegany Health Right on dental services
  • providing a Transition Clinic to newly discharged patients who may not be able to get a follow-up appointment to see their physician within the first week after being discharged
  • working with a host of agencies on ensuring that the transportation needs of patients getting to and from their appointments are being met
  • and the list goes on.  

This year we also fed the hungry, clothed those who have a need and partnered with others in ensuring that the homeless have a place to sleep.  As I have indicated in the blog, we have gone far beyond what the traditional hospital is expected to do for its community, but truly recognize that it is now both our responsibility and our mission.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Caring for What Matters Most

We have been running a series of commercials on what matters most to our employees and the theme has been helping others.  This year, like every previous year since my arrival in Cumberland 26 years ago, we have had a Christmas Families program.  For 2015, we provided Christmas for 63 families of which some were our own employees, some were patients at WMHS and the rest were families identified by community agencies.  Our Foundation Office estimates that we spent over $50,000 this year on toys, food, clothing and gift cards for these families and individuals in need.  

The generosity of our employees and their families, along with our medical staff and groups like the Ladies of Charity, is truly amazing.  No child should be without presents to open on Christmas morning; and through such efforts of the WMHS staff, we strive to make that goal a reality.  This year we provided, along with the area's Catholic churches and Pharmacare, over 1000 Thanksgiving meals to those in our community who may have gone without a such a meal.  

As we care for what matters most at WMHS, I am so very proud of our staff for their compassion, their dedication and their generosity in making Thanksgiving and Christmas truly a celebration for so many who may not have had that opportunity otherwise.  Merry Christmas!