Saturday, December 18, 2004

Brahm's lullaby announces each birth

What a wonderful event! On December 14 Congressman Jim Walsh and his wife, DeDe, helped cut the ribbon to dedicate the new Family Birth Center that is named after them. The Walshes were joined by the Snyders. Wendy Snyder gave birth to each of her three children at CGH, and she is expecting her fourth in February.

At the ribbon-cutting were, from left, Dr. Howard Weinstein, Chair, Department of OB/GYN; Christine O’Connell More, Chair, Community General Foundation; Congressman Jim and DeDe Walsh; Rob Snyder with son Joshua and daughter Katherine; Wendy Snyder with daughter Anna; myself; and Steve Infanti, Chair, Community General Hospital.

The new center is filled with special touches, from wood trim to frosted glass side panels, each with a decorative rose. The bathrooms have tile floors and whirlpool baths. Linen shelves may be stocked from outside each room, and each laboring mom will have a soft bathrobe. There are three triage rooms, six LDR rooms (labor-delivery-recovery), and two rooms for C-Sections.

Another special feature of the new center is a recording that announces the birth of a baby to the entire hospital. At the dedication ceremonies Laura Smith, LPN, demonstrated the chime recording of Brahms' Lullaby. Mrs. Smith, who with Dr. Weinstein unceremoniously raised a hammer last spring to start the demolition of the old unit, has been a CGH employee in Labor & Delivery since December 26, 1962 – five days before the first baby was born at Community Hospital.

Our thanks to the US Government for the $1 million grant secured by Congressman Walsh, and to the donors of some $338,000 in additional funds that have been contributed to the birth center. The total cost is $1.9 million, and donations are being accepted by the Community General Foundation’s “Pay it Forward” capital campaign.

Thank you, all!

This text was originally sent to the employees of Community General Hospital, Syracuse, NY, as one of a series of letters from the CEO. The text was subsequently posted on the CEO's blog, More than Medicine, started in June 2007.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

The quiet hand

We see the good they do all around us, but we may not recognize it as the quiet work of the Auxiliary to Community General Hospital. At the 42nd annual meeting of the Auxiliary last Thursday (October 27), Dr. David Simon, Medical Staff President, gave an example of their quiet deeds.

Dr. Simon had seen patients that morning at Van Duyn Home and Hospital, our campus neighbor across the tree line. In conversation with a head nurse at Van Duyn, he mentioned that he would be speaking with the Auxiliary later in the day. The head nurse told him gratefully that, years ago, the Auxiliary helped her become a nurse through its scholarship program. Each and every year Community's Auxilians volunteer interview candidates and make scholarship awards. Over the years they have helped many join the nursing profession.

How many of us use the Gift Shop for snacks, sundries, and gifts for patients? The Gift Shop is an Auxiliary project that requires many volunteer hours for ordering, inventorying, transporting, and staffing. At the annual meeting Carol Merritt, Auxiliary President, paid special tribute to Bob Easton, who has quietly run the gift shop for decades. She also acknowledged Walt and Vera Sassman, two Auxilians who have volunteered at Community – Vera for over 40 years, Walt for more than 35. Monday was their last day as volunteers. “But we are still members of the Auxiliary,” they hastened to tell me.

In his remarks to the Auxiliary, John Scala, Director of Volunteers, cited more examples of the Auxiliary’s quiet hand in the life of Community. He spoke of Auxilians’ work in maintaining the flower beds that make the front of Community General Hospital so pleasant; he spoke of the Light-a-Light program that decorates the campus and helps families and friends honor their loved ones during the holiday season; he spoke of the Auxiliary’s annual golf tournament, its fashion show (coming December 3), and the sales events throughout the year that help employees, volunteers, physicians, and visitors shop for books, toys, clothing, linens, flowers, and jewelry.

Auxiliary fund raisers contribute to the life of our hospital, and they generate funds the Auxiliary donates for hospital care. Last Thursday Carol Merritt presented the Community General Foundation with a very generous $45,000 check for Community's new Birth Center.

Here is something quite remarkable – the Auxiliary’s gifts to the Community General Foundation’s “Pay it Forward” capital campaign more than equal the gifts from hospital directors and employees. The Auxiliary has contributed $150,000 to “Pay it Forward,” and to date Community's board members, managers, and employees have pledged and contributed some $143,000. That shows just how busy – and just how generous – are the Auxilians.

If you're doing the math, you’ve noticed that the Auxiliary actually predates our hospital. The Auxiliary’s annual meeting was its 42nd. Community General Hospitalwill celebrate its 42nd anniversary on January 1st. Dr. Simon noted that the Auxiliary became active before Community opened when the first Auxilians went door-to-door, inviting others to join them. The newly-formed Auxiliary led tours of the hospital for community groups in the months leading up to Community's opening on January 1, 1963.

The Auxilians are a big part of our hospital’s past and, as is evident, a big part of our present. In my remarks to them, I thanked the Auxilians for their constancy, and I assured them that we who work for Community are grateful for all they do. I promised that, for our part, we will continue to value, care for, and respect each patient, every day.

This text was originally sent to the employees of Community General Hospital, Syracuse, NY, as one of a series of letters from the CEO. The text was subsequently posted on the CEO's blog, More than Medicine, started in June 2007.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

On memorial Day

Outside the Diagnostic Center (in front of the Admitting Office window) is a dogwood tree, identified by a small plaque that honors the memory of Lt. Patrick Kelly Connor, USN, who died in the Gulf War in 1991. Marsha Connor, an OR nurse who retired from Community General Hospital last year, is Patrick’s mother.

I noted the plaque on rounds this morning, especially because this is the Memorial Day weekend. As a national holiday, Memorial Day is celebrated on Monday, May 31, but the traditional date is May 30.

Memorial Day reportedly has its roots in 1863, when the Civil War was being fought. Women in Columbus, Mississippi, decorated with flowers the graves of Confederate war solders, then showed the same respect to the nearby graves of Union soldiers. In 1866, following the War, a drugstore owner in Waterloo, NY, closed his store on May 30 as a sign of respect for the war dead, and the tradition of Decoration Day – later Memorial Day – began. By 1882 Memorial Day was observed for the first time as a national day of remembrance for those who died in the nation’s wars.

Continuing on rounds, I observed other memorial plaques honoring those who have worked and volunteered at Community General Hospital.

In the lobby next to the flower display is a plaque that commemorates the 1982 dedication of the flagpole. “The flag displayed in front of Community General Hospital,” it reads, “honors the memory of all deceased hospital employees.” The pole was erected by Radiology Department employees who had lost one of their co-workers, Vera Snyder, that year. I recall from that dedication that the first flag to fly at Community had previously flown above the nation’s Capitol.

There is a plaque on Four North honoring the memory of Ann Gibbs with the statement, “Through these halls have walked the best.” A sign honors the memory of the Rev. Kevin Joseph Murphy on Six East, and 20-year volunteer Gordon Ketchum is also remembered with a plaque recently placed on Six. There is a bench in honor of volunteer Pat Berical outside the Diagnostic Center, and next month the Auxiliary will dedicate a bench to honor long-time volunteer Carolyn Boshea, who recently passed away.

The main lobby displays the plague remembering John L. Brown, our “first administrator, first employee.” Numerous memorial gifts are commemorated in displays throughout the hospital, many dating from the original construction. Family and friends have made donations to our hospital from the very start to honor their loved ones. All we have to do is look - all around us are tributes to those who came before.

We truly honor the memory of the nation’s war dead, and the memories of Community founders and colleagues, in the work we do for our patients today, on Memorial Day, and every day.

This text was originally sent to the employees of Community General Hospital, Syracuse, NY, as one of a series of letters from the CEO. The text was subsequently posted on the CEO's blog, More than Medicine, started in June 2007.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

What they say

Community General Hospital was one of 132 hospitals nationwide that voluntarily participated in a patient survey undertaken by the federal government last year. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) conducted a pilot project involving 61 hospitals in New York, 45 in Maryland, and 26 in Arizona.

CMS will use the project to develop a standard way of evaluating hospital performance by patients. When the project is finished, we can expect CMS to look for ways to link the how hospitals are paid to how well patients rate their care.

The CMS surveys were conduced on Community's medical-surgical patients who were discharged in December 2002 and January 2003. For obstetric patients, the sample was drawn from patients in the November 2002 and January 2003 period. Patients received a pre-survey letter, a mail-in questionnaire, and a thank you card. Those who did not return questionnaires received up to five follow-up telephone calls to improve the response. As a result, of the 900 Community patients who were surveyed, fully one-half responded (49.9%).

Patients were asked to score the hospital from 0 to 10 with 0 being the “worst possible” hospital experience and 10 being “best possible.” 35% percent gave Community a “perfect 10” and 63% scored “9 or 10.” Most people had very good experiences here, but surveys like this one help us focus on improving performance by using information from those who rated us less favorably.

The CMS survey results also suggest how we compare with other hospitals in the state and nation. For example, on the “worst possible/ best possible” question, 59% of the patients scored “9 or 10” among the 61 New York hospitals that participated.

We looked at another survey this week at a meeting of the Medical Executive Committee. That survey, conducted at a recent meeting of the Medical Staff, helps us understand physician opinion. This is a snapshot of the views of the doctors on whom we depend for patient referrals and medical management.

In all 52 physicians completed the survey, and they said the quality of physician care at Community is comparable to other hospitals – one-fifth reported it as “better.” Only 2% forecast a decrease in their work at Community with 23% saying they anticipate using Community more in the future.

One question asked: “Is Community's image in 2004 better, worse or the same as 2002?” In reviewing the results this week, one Department Chairman said he was pleased that 69% of the doctors think our image improved. “And I think that’s right,” he said. “Community is better.”

This text was originally sent to the employees of Community General Hospital, Syracuse, NY, as one of a series of letters from the CEO. The text was subsequently posted on the CEO's blog, More than Medicine, started in June 2007.