Physicians and clinicians assuming more leadership roles

By George Williams, MD, MMM, FACEP
President, MedHealth

A few years ago, the American College of Physician Executives (ACPE) published a white paper, “The Value of Physician Leadership.” Using literature reviews and interviews with healthcare professionals, the document draws a clear connection between physician leadership and high performing healthcare organizations. The white paper is summarized in a FierceHealthcare article published on May 6, 2014, ACPE: Physician leadership linked to organizational success.” Around the same time, ACPE elected to change the organization’s name to the American Association for Physician Leadership based on the realization that leadership more appropriately encapsulates the work that administrative physicians are performing in healthcare organizations.

GeorgeWilliamsReading the article, I found it validating to discover that what we have been pursuing at Methodist Health System, bringing more clinicians into senior leadership roles, is being practiced across the country by healthcare organizations large and small. Currently, Methodist has three clinicians heading different organizations. Martin L. Koonsman, MD, FACS, is president of Methodist Dallas Medical Center. Fran Laukaitis, MHA, BSN, FACHE, is president of Methodist Charlton Medical Center. I am president of MedHealth, an organization of 30 Methodist Family Health Centers and 14 specialty practices located throughout the greater Dallas area. In addition, Sam Cullison, MD, serves as vice president of the graduate medical education program; Brian Kenjarski, MD, MBA, FACEP, is chief medical information officer; and Melissa Gerdes, MD, FAAFP, is vice president and chief medical officer, outpatient services and ACO strategy.

We are proof of Methodist’s belief that clinicians can be very effective leaders. In truth, we view ourselves as healthcare leaders who happen to be physicians or nurses. I believe that Methodist’s investment in the training and nurturing of clinicians to become leaders is one reason we are consistently rated among the best places to work.

The ACPE white paper states, “… physicians, with their deep clinical understanding and desire to provide the best care for patients, are well-placed to help bring about the redesign of care that is the bedrock of health reform.”

Methodist, like most healthcare organizations, is facing a variety of challenges including rising rates of chronic diseases, clinician shortages, and an aging population. If we want to retain high-quality physicians, it’s necessary to have physician leaders capable of empathizing with colleagues who are being expected to embrace a barrage of clinical practice changes to address these challenges. Today’s healthcare environment requires practicing collaboratively, completely contrary to the way that medicine has been practiced historically. Motivating physicians to make this leap of faith requires strong, insightful physician leaders who can educate and persuade their peers.

Which skills do physicians need to reach their full leadership potential? According to the ACPE white paper, here are the five key competencies for physician-leadership success:

  • Knowledge of the healthcare environment
  • Professionalism
  • Communication and relationship management
  • Business skills and knowledge
  • Leadership and ability to inspire

In order to develop physician leaders, Methodist created the Physician Leadership Institute. Participants complete a two-year didactic curriculum sponsored by the American Association for Physician Leadership. Additionally, each physician commits to completing a quality improvement project as part of the program.

Thanks to the Institute, we’re making progress in placing more clinicians in key leadership roles. While the challenges and expectations for physicians continue to intensify, the need for leaders who understand physician dynamics and who are keenly aware of the requirements that will be necessary to lead healthcare systems is greater than ever. I expect to see more and more large healthcare systems including physician leaders on their senior teams. I’m proud to say that Methodist has been on the leading edge of this trend.

If you’re looking for an opportunity to work in an organization that values clinical leadership, then consider Methodist Health System. Visit us at Jobs.MethodistHealthSytem.org.

© Methodist Health System
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Becoming a Nurse Leader in the OR

by: Joshua Ast, BSN, RN, CNOR
Nurse Manager, Surgical Services
Methodist Richardson Medical Center 

I was destined to work in healthcare. As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had this desire to help others. My mom set the example as a radiology tech and my interest in science fueled my passion to pursue a healthcare career. But, as I’ve discovered, even if you know what you want to do, you can’t be sure where fate is going to lead you.

I decided to join the Navy when I was 18 because I felt that would give me the opportunityJoshua AstFB to pursue my goal. I completed surgical tech school in Bethesda, Maryland, and spent three years overseas. I obtained my bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2005, and in 2010, I joined Methodist Richardson Medical Center as a nurse in the operating room. As soon as my training was finished in March 2011, I was immediately deployed by the Navy to serve as a critical care nurse in Afghanistan. I returned to Methodist Richardson in December 2011.

The idea of being a leader had never really occurred to me. That’s when fate stepped in and my director suggested that I participate in the Methodist Health System Emerging Leaders Program (ELP). The program is designed to provide leadership training to future leaders of the organization. I’m so fortunate that my nurse manager and my director recognized my potential and encouraged me to enter the program. When I completed the ELP course, they took a chance and offered me the position of nurse manager of surgical services. This not only tested me, it also provided me with the opportunity to put what I had learned in the leadership program into practice.

Filled with confidence, I set my next career goal — becoming a certified perioperative nurse. Even though it wasn’t required, I personally felt that someone in my position needed to have this credential. Thanks to Methodist’s Clinical Advancement Program that includes tuition reimbursement, I passed the exam and obtained the credentials.

Even though the OR can be a pretty serious place, I’ve learned that people tend to listen to me more when I relate with them and don’t take myself too seriously. The idea of having fun with your job is an outgrowth of the thing I really love about my work — the feeling of family here at Methodist Richardson. You don’t find that everywhere. This is the one place where, for the first time in 20 years, I actually look forward to coming to work every morning.

I believe in having a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the OR. While my administrative duties are important, the OR and my staff come first. Every great leader I’ve had in my career has led by example, so I choose to follow in their footsteps by providing an example to my staff. What advice do I give to new employees? Whatever you do, strive to be the very best at what life presents to you.

If you’ve decided to be the best you can be, consider Methodist Health System. Visit us at Jobs.MethodistHealthSytem.org.

© Methodist Health System
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Intensive Care Expansion Brings New Employment Opportunities at Methodist Charlton Medical Center

By David Molengraaf, BSN, RNDavid MolengraafMCMC
Director of Critical Care Services
Methodist Charlton Medical Center   

This spring, Methodist Charlton Medical Center is expanding our intensive care unit. Why? To meet our growing needs and to continue striving to provide the highest-possible standard of care in our community. In fact, it’s essential that we expand.

Methodist Charlton has one of the busiest emergency departments in the Dallas–Fort Worth area. Last year, we had over 85,000 emergency visits.  And the volume continues to grow year over year. Not only are the numbers increasing, but the acuity of the patients is increasing as well. Truly sick patients who have severe respiratory issues such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema, as well as those with chest pain and heart disease and advanced kidney disease, come through our emergency department doors daily. Many of these patients require admission to the intensive care unit. Over time, the demand just continued to increase.

Opening in mid-March 2016, our ICU will expand from 24 to 32 beds, with 12 additional beds for overflow. With a 44-bed capacity, Methodist Charlton will have one of the largest ICUs in Dallas County. Plus the new unit has just been built out, located on the top floor of our new patient tower. This is good news for our patients and staff as we’ll be moving into a completely new space, one which includes new equipment with some of the latest technology. For example, one new piece of equipment will be able to provide a noninvasive way to measure septic patients. The test is quick and painless, greatly reducing the chance for infection. Our intensivists and nurses practitioners are eager to begin using the technology.

We will be hiring 28 additional ICU RNs, so there’s never been a better opportunity to join a tremendous organization that’s on-the-grow. I think what really sets Methodist Charlton apart and makes it a unique place for a nurse to work is that our president is a nurse. In fact, she’s the first nurse to move into the president’s chair in Methodist Health System. As a leader, she has our back and really understands and supports the frontline staff because she’s been there and knows what it takes to provide great care.

What’s more, our ICU has a wide acuity mix. We have two cardiothoracic surgeons on staff so our ICU sees many patients who have had coronary artery bypass graft  and open heart and intra-aortic balloon pump procedures. For our staff and new ICU RNs we hire, that means they have a real opportunity to expand their skills. If our clinicians want to learn and expand their skill level, we want to teach them.

I’m very proud of the people who work in the ICU who make it not just a good place to work, but a great place to work. They are focused, cohesive, caring, and respectful of each other. They truly enjoy working together as a team, and that’s critically important in an area such as intensive care. We encourage our staff to pursue additional education, and many have become certified registered nurse anesthetists or nurse practitioners. It’s an environment where nurses can thrive and excel.

If you’re looking for new opportunities in a brand-new environment, then consider Methodist Health System. Visit us at Jobs.MethodistHealthSytem.org.

© Methodist Health System

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Resolutions That Will Change Your Life in 2016

By Carrie Camin
Assistant Vice President, Wellness
Methodist Health System                                                          

Have you ever read an article and found yourself nodding your head the whole time you are reading it? That happened to me recently. I came across an article entitled Five New Year’s Resolutions That Will Change Your Life,”  by Shane Robinson. The article appeared in the Jan. 10, 2015 issue of Forbes Magazine. While I’m not a regular reader of Forbes, I’m certainly glad my path crossed with Robinson’s via this article.

Here are Robinson’s life-changing resolutions:

  • Smile more
  • Maintain or start a health and fitness regimen
  • Schedule personal time
  • Don’t commit to things you can’t do
  • Use your calendar.

Reading this list started me thinking about how these align with our culture at Methodist and the many of the wellness programs we offer our workforce and community.

two female young nurses having fun with tablet computer during break

Smile more. A smile can sometimes be just what the doctor ordered. At Methodist Health System’s new employee orientation, we talk about our culture and always smiling greeting one another, patients and visitors.  In the world of wellness, we maximize the value of a smile when people are in need of stress relievers. We encourage folks to take a walk and bask in and reciprocate smiles with our fellow employees. It’s amazing what a mood elevator it is and how a smile can be so contagious.

Maintain or start a health and fitness regimen. The benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise are well documented. Here are some quick tips that might help you fast-track and achieve your health and fitness plans in 2016.

  • Set achievable and time-bound goals. Put them on your calendar and follow –up to assess your progress and success. Make goals around you and behaviors you can sustain. If you hate running, don’t set a goal of running three times a week. Like to dance? Boogie to your favorite tunes for 30 minutes three times a week.
  • Work on one goal at a time. Don’t try to tackle too much at once. If improving your diet and exercise regimens are on your list of goals for 2016, make your exercise routine part of your weekly schedule before embarking on better nutrition.
  • Get your zzzs. Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep makes you crave sugar and caffeine, often found in sodas and high-calorie and high-sugar coffee drinks. Sleep allows your body to recover and regenerate.
  • Mix it up. Add variety to your exercise routine. Make good use of your time with interval training. Pick a comfortable pace for your walk or run. Add push-ups or squats every two minutes. Try adding 30 second bouts of activity every few minutes.
  • Keep moving. Take the stairs. Go the long way. Start tracking your steps. Give yourself the gift of a device that will keep you on your feet. Free trackers available as apps on your smart phone can be very useful.
  • Find new ways to reward yourself. Replay and celebrate your victories. Just finished a brisk walk and feel great? Capture that feeling for replay later. Relive that feeling when you need motivation or affirmation. Bask in your success instead of treating yourself with that brownie, burger, or latte.
  • Socialize through activities. Instead of dinner and a movie, go bowling, support a charity, help your friend clean out her closet, go to the park, or take your dog for a walk.
  • Get in a good laugh. Try to find a way to laugh every day. Laughter really is the best medicine.
  • Shake it off. Bad traffic? Sarcastic co-worker? Don’t stress out. You can only control you. Carrying the negative with you only weighs you down. This would be a good time for a hardy laugh!
  • If you have not already, get your annual physical. Connect with your personal physician and get the appropriate preventive exams for your age and gender. If you don’t have a personal physician, find one and begin a long-term relationship.

Schedule personal time. Try to keep work and personal time separate. Of course, sometimes work priorities come first. But, if you take time for personal needs, you’ll be surprised how it will energize your work. If you can, take mini-breaks in your day to hydrate, share a joke, take a lap around the office. Schedule time to work out. Make plans with friends and family and keep them — you’ll be amazed how taking time for yourself will actually improve your efficiency at work.

Don’t commit to things you can’t do. Over committing and under delivering is a sure formula for stress and self-imposed failure. Remember, what you can’t get done today will be there tomorrow.

Use your calendar. Posting events and tasks on your calendar will help you manage your time and keep you accountable to yourself. Health findings in 2015 remind us that lights on the screens of tablets can actually interrupt your sleep pattern, so try putting your phone or tablet away one or two hours before your go to sleep. Set the alarm on your phone or tablet that tells it is time to power down. Put this on your calendar and stick to it.

2016 promises to be an exciting year full of promise and fulfillment, especially if you take these life-changing resolutions to heart!

If you’ve resolved to improve your life and your career in 2016, consider Methodist Health System. Visit us at Jobs.MethodistHealthSytem.org.

© Methodist Health System
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New Tower Signals New Opportunities for Nurses

Methodist Mansfield Medical Center is growing to meet the community’s health care needs. That’s great news for nurses and other health care professionals. Methodist-Mansfield-Tower-Two-Entry-500

We’re so fortunate to be in a thriving service area. In fact, our service area population has grown 59 percent since the hospital opened. The community’s growing demand for health care services includes emergency, surgical, and acute medical, and our award-winning Women’s Center has experienced dramatic growth in births and neonatal intensive care services.

Why are we so excited about the new Tower Two? Here are some quick facts about the new 208,000-square-foot building:

  • 22 additional ICU beds
  • Expanded dialysis unit from three to eight beds
  • 32 additional cardiac telemetry beds
  • 32 additional postsurgical beds
  • Expanded telemetry monitoring capability to 144 units
  • 32 beds available for future expansion
  • Cath lab upgraded to accommodate electrophysiology procedures.

For nurses, Tower Two represents quality and safety improvements in the environment of care, including a new telemetry and nurse-call system to provide leading-edge patient monitoring and safety features. All rooms are WIFI ready for patients and visitors. The nurse-call system is integrated with the safety features of the patient’s bed to alert nursing staff when someone needs assistance without the patient having to call. In addition, increased space in Tower Two will enable us to build on specialized services such as neurosciences.

Methodist Mansfield employees have always enjoyed working in a top-notch, family-friendly facility. Tower Two takes this to the next level with expanded food services, cozy areas where staff can take a break and get away, and other amenities.

The new Tower Two is tangible evidence of the reputation our staff has established for delivering top-notch quality patient care. In fact, since our opening, we’ve been voted a Best Medical Facility, Best Maternity Ward, and Best Emergency Department in North Texas. A big part of our quality and commitment to excellence is our commitment to our employees. We truly are one big family, a team of health care professionals that strives day in and day out to deliver the best care to our patients and their families. Quality and patient safety are our highest priorities and community service is a hallmark of our culture.

New buildings facilitate our ability to achieve our mission, but it’s our people who make the difference. So with the opening of the new Tower Two, we’re looking for nurses, patient care technicians, and ancillary staff who are committed to providing compassionate, quality patient care. The best additions for our team are people who have a positive attitude and strive to do their best for every patient, every time.

If you’re ready to expand your career with a healthy, growing organization, consider Methodist Mansfield Medical Center. Visit us at Jobs.MethodistHealthSytem.org.

© Methodist Health System
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Looking for a Company Whose Employees Care About Each Other? Look Here.

Marcus Jackson, RRT, FACHEMarcus Jackson Head Shot
Director of Cardiopulmonary Services
Methodist Mansfield Medical Center

I’m so proud to be a part of the Methodist Health System family. That pride grows even stronger when I’m in the community and people tell me about their heart-warming experiences at a Methodist hospital. But for me, it’s our history of taking care of our own through financial and emotional support that truly demonstrates the spirit of family that is embedded in the Methodist culture.

Employee fund logoAt Methodist, our mission is to improve and save lives through compassionate quality health care. We believe that mission statement is inclusive of our Methodist family as well — so when I was asked to serve as chairman of our employee giving campaign called Methodist Gives in 2014, I was truly honored. The annual campaign occurs during the month of November, and employees have numerous ways to donate and can direct what their contributions support.

Thanks to the commitment from leadership and tremendous interest from our employees, we raised money and had a lot of fun along the way. Activities such as Zumba® dancing, a chili cook-off, karaoke, and hit-your-boss-in-the-face-with-a-pie helped us increase donations last year by 18 percent. Our president, Dr. Mansfield, even sang to help us raise money!

One of the programs that we support is the Basic Employee Needs (BEN) Fund, which provides financial support to employees in a time of personal crisis. Launched in 1999, it has distributed more than $610,000 to over 500 employees.

How is the BEN Fund making a difference in employee’s lives? This quote says it all: “My mother was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. As of May, she is not able to work under doctor’s orders. I do my best with paying bills, but disability has not agreed to help and we need to pay rent for two months while she recovers. She is no longer working and I am the only family member taking care of her, along with supporting my two children. I am behind on my bills with helping my mother. I am currently a month late on my car note, my rent is late monthly since May, and I still have my children to provide for.” The BEN Fund provided $1,500 in much-needed and much-appreciated assistance to this employee.

Another way to give is through the Methodist Health System Foundation 30 Minute Club (30MC). By giving at least 30 minutes of their base salary per pay period, employees can continue giving throughout the year and receive an end-of-year tax deduction. Since 2005, employees have donated more than $1.5 million to campus projects and equipment, which allows them to better serve their patients.

We introduced this concept at new-employee orientation and were blown away by the willingness of new employees to join the 30MC, even before they had received one cent in pay from Methodist. In 2015, these donations were used for ventilators at Methodist Charlton Medical Center, patient sofas for Labor and Delivery at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, and a prayer garden at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center.

Check out this year’s Methodist Gives video: Foundation.MethodistHealthSystem.org/Employee-Giving.

If you’re ready to join a family of generous givers, consider Methodist Health System. To learn more, visit us at Jobs.MethodistHealthSytem.org.

© Methodist Health System
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Looking for Team Spirit? Look No Further than the Softball Diamond.

By Amanda Mahone, Talent Sourcer and Softball League Coordinator, Methodist Health System

AmandaAt Methodist Health System, we don’t just talk about teamwork and family. Our culture is infused with collegiality, and our employees have each other’s backs. The great thing about a team is that its members can accomplish much more than what one person can do alone; however, it’s that individual effort that contributes to the overall success of the team. For our patients, that’s great news.

You can find the team concept in action in many venues inside and outside the hospital. With the advent of fall, many turn to the great American pastime — baseball. The fall classic, the World Series, still captures the dreams of young and old alike. For Methodist, that same ideology — individuals contributing to a team’s success and going the extra mile to succeed — is fielded in our spring softball league.

The Methodist softball league started more than 15 years ago. Today, about 100 employees and family members play on the teams. When you consider the team names, you can tell that fun is at the heart of why the league was formed. From Methodist Dallas Medical Center are the Emergency Flatliners, Pharmacy Crushers, Radiology Rays, and OR Cutters. Methodist Charlton Medical Center fields the Charlton Champs from the Methodist Charlton Family Medicine Center and Code Blue from the intermediate care unit. Rounding out the roster is the IS Servers from Methodist Health System.

The league plays three games on Wednesday nights from 7 to 10 p.m. for seven consecutive weeks. Six teams play each other, and one team has a bye game each week. Similar to our work environment where data and metrics of success are critically important, so are the weekly stats we keep on each player and team. At the end of the season, the top four teams advance to the playoffs, and the winning teams in the playoffs face each other in the championship game.

Who won this year’s championship, you ask? The Emergency Flatliners are the Winning team Photo Aug 26, 9 47 59 PMchampions! They received a large trophy that is proudly displayed in their department.

Why do employees participate in the league and play on teams? As the league coordinator, I can assure you it’s a great way to network and socialize with employees you may not have met otherwise. You also get to know employees from other Methodist facilities. Many of our softball players have formed long-lasting friendships. The league affords Methodist employees and their families with an opportunity to get together outside of work, strictly for fun and fellowship. On the ball field, you often see a colleague’s true personality and talents emerge. And the relationships between departments that are built on the ball field actually transfer to our everyday work environment in the hospital — more good news for our patients and their families.

Best of all, Methodist is extremely supportive of our softball league, contributing funds for the umpires, scorekeepers, field reservations, and supplies. I am truly grateful for the support. It’s a lot of volunteer work for me, but once we start the season, it’s all worth it. Softball is in my blood. When I’m in a game, I can just be me, not an employee, a mom or a wife. Not only am I a softball veteran, I’m a 13-year Methodist employee. Over the years, I’ve seen the difference that playing softball makes in employees’ lives. We help each other to be successful and we work for one common goal — to help our team win. That translates to our day-to-day work where we care for each other and we work for one common goal — to care for our communities.

If you’re ready to join a new team, consider Methodist Health System. To learn more, visit us at Jobs.MethodistHealthSytem.org.

© Methodist Health System
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Tiffany Gonzales, a G.R.E.A.T. Addition to the Methodist Family

By Sharina Arceneaux, MSN, RN-BC
Medical-Surgical Clinical Educator
Methodist Dallas Medical Center

 

June 16 is a day that I will never forget. It’s the day I met Tiffany Gonzales after her first day of work in the environmental services department at Methodist Dallas Medical Center. It’s also the day that I knew Tiffany was going to be a terrific addition to the Methodist Health System family.

I had just left work. As I was driving past the Methodist Dallas campus, I noticed two Dallas Police cars pulled over with their lights flashing, so I stopped to see what was going on. I saw Tiffany sitting on the ground next to a woman who she said had just had a seizure. She told me how long the seizure had lasted and what she had done to care for the woman. I waited with her until the ambulance arrived and the patient was safely transported.

Tiffany was the right person in the right place at the right time for this woman. Tiffany’s own health history includes seizures, so she knew exactly what to do to keep the woman safe, including flagging Dallas Police and calling 911 for help. She undoubtedly saved the woman from further harm and injury by preventing her from falling on the sidewalk or into the path of oncoming cars.

What impressed me about Tiffany was her courage and her willingness to stop and help someone in trouble. Not many people these days would do that. I also was impressed with her skills of observation, her obvious caring attitude, her ability to clearly provide details about the woman’s condition, and her strength to remain calm throughout the entire episode.

Tiffany may not have been clinically trained, but what I later learned is that she wants to be a nurse. In fact, she is finishing her classes so she can apply to the El Centro College Associate Degree Nursing Program at Methodist Health System. No wonder she was so observant and caring. It all made sense then.

Tiffany recalled seeing the woman in a zombie-like state at the bus stop. “I knew I had to help this woman,” she told me. “Because I have experienced seizures, I immediately knew what to do. This episode has strengthened my resolve to become a nurse. Besides my job at Methodist Dallas, I also work as a paraprofessional in the special education department at a charter school. I work with many children who have special needs, including a student who was born without arms. She has helped me to understand what it means to care for others who can’t do for themselves. Nursing is the perfect career for me.”

When we leave work, we’re often preoccupied with things that we need to do next — like get home to our families and go to the store. That’s why Tiffany’s actions are so remarkable. In spite of the fact that she’s a single mom with three children who works two jobs, she stopped to help a stranger. Her medical history definitely puts her more in tune with other people’s needs because she’s known both sides of the story.

Tiffany also told me that everything she does, she does in the spirit of excellence. “When I saw this woman on the street, my caretaking instincts kicked in,” she remarked. “I didn’t want anything to happen to this woman. If something is not right, I zoom in and focus on a solution until the situation is remedied.”

I have no doubt that Tiffany is going to be an EXCELLENT nurse! That’s why I nominated her for the G.R.E.A.T. Award to recognize her for her attitude and her willingness to go the extra mile for someone. She truly exemplifies the spirit of the Methodist Dallas family. They put their own needs aside to help others.

If you’re ready to join a team that values and mirrors Tiffany’s commitment to caring, consider Methodist Health System. To learn more, visit us at Jobs.MethodistHealthSytem.org.

© Methodist Health System
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Methodist Dallas First Hospital in DFW To Receive Baby-Friendly Designation

by Pamala Gessling, MBA, BSN, RNC-OB, NEA-BC
Director of Nursing, Women and Children’s Services
Methodist Dallas Medical Center

February 10, 2015, was a big day for moms and their babies at Methodist Dallas Medical Center. That’s the day the hospital became the first health care organization in Dallas County to receive the Baby-Friendly birth facility designation from Baby-Friendly USA.

Baby-Friendly USA, Inc. is the U.S. authority for the implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, a global program sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The initiative encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding mothers and their babies.

I was extremely proud and happy for our wonderful staff and physicians who worked so hard to help Methodist Dallas attain this top certification for family-centered care. Every nurse who cares for mothers and their babies received 20 hours of extensive training. Our physicians each received three hours of education. These standards are part of national quality core measures, and breastfeeding is now a reportable measure for The Joint Commission.

Based on the universally accepted Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, obtaining the Baby-Friendly designation required a huge commitment on the part of the hospital. It began with our decision to implement shared-care nursing in 2012. This is a model of nursing in which the same nurse provides care for mother and her baby in the same room. This dramatic departure from traditional postpartum care was based on research that showed having babies close to their mothers helps the new moms learn their babies’ cues, supports the bonding process, and better prepares moms to succeed and have a good experience when they take their babies home.

Why is Methodist Dallas so committed to helping new moms successfully breastfeed their babies? In the new health care environment that focuses on improving care outcomes and patient experiences, pursuing the Baby-Friendly designation was simply the right thing to do. Breastfeeding is best for infants and mothers for many reasons:

  • It’s natural
  • Babies who are breastfed are less likely to be obese or develop diabetes
  • It supports the critical bonding between mothers and babies
  • It provides an opportunity to educate moms before they take their babies home.

Most moms don’t know that even one sip of baby formula changes the intestinal flora of their babies’ stomachs. That means formula-fed babies are more likely to develop bacteria that’s not normal for them to have. It’s best for babies to keep the flora that they are born with to help them fight all kinds of infections. In short, it’s healthier for the babies. Moms benefit from breastfeeding because it helps them return to their prepregnancy weight and get back in shape faster. Plus, breastfeeding is less expensive than purchasing baby formula.

It takes about two days post delivery to begin producing breast milk. These first few days, mothers produce a low-fat, high-protein milk called colostrum, which provides all the nutrients and fluid that newborns need in the early days, as well as many substances to protect babies against infections. Babies’ stomachs are about the size of a marble when they are born. Breastfeeding babies will stop nursing when they are full. Often, we unintentionally teach formula-fed babies to overeat. Our goal is to help new moms establish breastfeeding the first few days. We help them better understand their babies and learn how to pick up cues that they are hungry. This helps ensure a better experience and outcome down the road.

If moms choose not to breastfeed, we will of course support their decision and provide the same outstanding care we provide to moms who do choose to breastfeed. Most important, our goal is to help educate moms so they can make informed decisions. We have a huge obesity issue in the U.S., and we have a relatively low exclusive breastfeeding rate. I’m gratified to report that since Methodist Dallas began the program, the number of moms who are exclusively breastfeeding their babies has climbed to 54 percent. That’s huge for us.

By obtaining the Baby-Friendly designation, we are empowering women to naturally breastfeed their babies to help them get a healthier start in life. We’re here to support them, regardless of their feeding choices, so they can get a good start on raising their children. Our staff believes in the value of this effort and is committed to strictly following the standards established by Baby-Friendly USA.

Several years ago, Methodist Health System’s President and CEO, Stephen L. Mansfield, PhD, FACHE, set out to achieve his vision of creating one of the healthiest health care organizations in America by 2016. To achieve this vision, we need to educate our patients and the communities we serve about choices and healthy lifestyles. It’s a powerful tool to get healthy and stay healthy and that’s certainly one of the foundational principles of Baby-Friendly USA.

If you’re ready to join one of the healthiest health care systems in the U.S., consider Methodist Health System. To learn more, visit us at Jobs.MethodistHealthSytem.org.

© Methodist Health System
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Expanding Our Reach Through Accountable Care

by Purity Nyaga, MSN, RN
Clinical Director, Accountable Care Organization (MPCACO), Methodist Health System
In 2012, Methodist Health System waded into the new world of accountable care by being selected as a participant in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP). The ACO model was designed to provide beneficiaries with high-quality service and care while reducing overall expenditures by enhancing care coordination. To assure the achievement of this triple aim, CMS established 33 quality measures relating to care coordination and patient safety, identified appropriate use of preventive health services, improved care for at-risk populations, and enhanced the patient and caregiver experience of care.

Methodist was a pioneer in this care delivery arrangement. We applied for the MSSP and were accepted into the pilot program as the first ACO in North Texas. What’s more, we were the only ACO in the area to achieve cost savings

As an early adopter, Methodist Patient-Centered ACO (MPCACO) focused on doing everything we could to reduce costs, improve quality, and increase patient satisfaction. There were a lot of opportunities to serve our beneficiaries with needs that included transportation, food, finding doctors and equipment, and so on. We saw lives changed and made a lot of friends in the process. Above all, we were able to positively affect a significant number of beneficiaries’ lives, which in turn resulted in lower readmission rates, reduced unnecessary emergency room visits, and decreased avoidable hospitalizations. When CMS announced the first-year results, we were amazed — $12.7 million in savings!  We were off to a great start.

You may be wondering why Methodist leadership decided to pursue this new venture. Our leadership was looking for innovative ways to fulfill our mission and vision. They were assertive and wanted us to be part of the solution to the health care challenges that face the entire industry.

Since 2012, we have seen the broad range of benefits that an ACO offers to patients, providers, and the community as a whole. Besides the cost savings, we have been able to document improvement in the quality of care for the beneficiaries covered by our organization. Our navigators have seen more than 3,000 patients. Even more important, we’ve seen individual lives impacted and changed for the better.

Coordinated care is the key to the ACO’s success. Our care navigation department is staffed with registered nurses, clinical social workers, community health workers, health coaches, and other health care professionals who are ready to go into the community and into beneficiaries’ homes to work with them according to their needs. The ACO staff also helps beneficiaries coordinate care with specialists, communicate with pharmacies, set up appointments for patients, arrange for home visits, assist with community resources, coordinate finding the appropriate post-acute-care providers, provide health care education and coaching, and much more.

We have been able to build the ACO from the ground up, including forming strategic community partnerships. One example is our partnership with the North Texas Food Bank, which helps us provide fresh fruits and vegetables to eligible beneficiaries. In fact, approximately 8,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables are distributed monthly. We also provide transportation cab vouchers to beneficiaries so they can get to their treatment and follow-up visits with their physicians. We refer our beneficiaries to area agencies for services, including:

  • CitySquare — providing multiple services at reduced rates, like housing, food pantry, and legal
  • Adult Protective Services — a safety support system for patients who need it
  • Metrocare — mental health and developmental disabilities support
  • American Cancer Society — a comprehensive program with a 360-degree assessment of medication and financial support needs for patients and their families.

Based on our patients’ needs, we continue to pursue new strategic partnerships and collaborations.

What are some of the key takeaways we’ve learned over the past three years? They include:

  1. Realizating that the health care system is much more fragmented than we originally thought
  2. Learning that care incentives for doing the right thing under the traditional fee-for-service model are misaligned and contribute to many of the problems addressed by accountable care
  3. Appreciating that this effort is going to require a lot of work in order for all of us to continue to move forward.

The next two to three years will be an exciting time for the MPCACO. We anticipate significant growth in total number of lives covered, from our current number of 25,000 to around 100,000. We also look forward to networking and sharing with other participating organizations in the CMS ACO program, as well as commercial ACO programs within our region.

The ACO is still an unfamiliar concept to many in health care. From the beginning of the ACO movement, Methodist has taken a leading role to move from volume-based care to care that is value based. As an organization that cares for the well-being of its employees, the MPCACO will begin assisting in managing the health of employees and their dependents by offering navigation services, health coaching, weight-loss and smoking-cessation programs, and any other services that they may need to promote health and wellness. This is another example of Methodist’s commitment to the health and well-being of our family members. As a caregiver, isn’t this the type of organization where you want to work and grow?

If you’re ready to join an innovative leader in health care delivery, consider Methodist Health System. To learn more, visit us at Jobs.MethodistHealthSytem.org.

© Methodist Health System
EOE/MF/D/V

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