I rounded at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital recently and visited the Sterile Processing Team Department. The SPD team received an IAMS award for their excellent work. We are all very proud of their accomplishments. Keep it up!
Why do we advertise? Tune in to hear my thoughts on why advertising and marketing are important. I am very proud our brand team for putting together Inova’s recent Lottery of Life video. If you haven’t seen it already – check it out!
Recently, I sent an email to all of you asking for suggestions on places where I should “round” (visit) at Inova. The response was overwhelmingly wonderful (over 50 requests!), and I sincerely thank you for taking the time to provide me with your feedback.
I wanted to let everyone know that the door is still open for more requests. To the folks who already responded to my email –my team is working on scheduling my visits and I am really looking forward to seeing you all.
P.S. Please send requests to Amjaad Al-hussain.
To the Inova family,
I was a little put out when I went outside my office to greet the folks in the waiting area who were there to tell me “thank you.” Even though they were the ones who had been waiting for several minutes as I concluded my last appointment, it was I who was a little peeved. You see, I was behind in my work that day and would have loved to have gained a few minutes to catch up on a couple of important things I needed to attend to. After exchanging greetings, the family presented me with some brownies and a nice bouquet of flowers. I started to feel uncomfortable about my impatience in having scheduled the appointment. By the time we finished talking, quite frankly, I felt terrible. Let me explain why.
After recounting a brief review of the care they had received, the family went directly to the business at hand—they wanted to thank me for what we had done for their child and wanted to know what they could do for us to show their appreciation. My first response was to tell them that “helping people is what we do” and that no thanks or recompense were required. I went on to say that we are a team of professionals and we love what we do. I wanted them to know there was nothing they could do for us that we already didn’t have.
After uttering these self-important words, I was struck by how quickly their faces showed real distress over my verdict that we did NOT need them and that there was NOTHING they could do to repay the gift we had given them. After a little superficial additional conversation, they went on their way and I was left to ponder the exchange we had just had. I knew that they had come in full of hope and expectation, and they left crestfallen and sad. What had I done to so badly harm their feelings and reduce them almost to tears from I had said?
For some reason, my mind went back to a time when my father had presented me with a surprise Christmas present a couple of days before Christmas (something that he had never done before – I had always received a gift from my mother and father together!!), and I had nothing to give him in return. In fact, I had spent all my money and had really no way of getting him ANYTHING! It was a terrible feeling to be indebted to someone I cared about with no prospect of “getting even” or reclaiming my ability to give as well as receive. The fact that my father expected nothing in return didn’t seem to help my feelings of impotence and frustration at all.
As I thought about the unsettling feeling that had descended upon me after the grateful family departed, I realized just how selfish our “professional” posture of declining thanks and help from our patients truly was. One of the best things we do at Inova is help others, sometimes in transformational ways. Often, we do things that have incredible value and we often work hard to go “above and beyond”- to achieve a true “wow” from our patients and their families. Usually, when they try to thank us, we say something like “it’s what we do” or “it’s all in a day’s work for us” – in short, we don’t accept their thanks in an open hearted way, much less give them the satisfaction of being able to “get even” and give us something of value. I suspect this is not something we do with mal intent but something we do without thinking about those who really NEED to give back.
I love the story that is told of the little girl who gives her daddy a present for Christmas but when he opens an elaborately wrapped package with a fancy ribbon/bow, he finds it totally empty. His reaction is to berate the little girl with “you wasted all our money on this fancy wrapping paper just to wrap an empty box?! Don’t you know that money is tight around this household right now?!” To which the little girl tearfully replied, “Daddy, it’s not empty – it’s filled with my kisses – you just can’t see them!” You see, the little girl NEEDED to give something to her daddy and not just be a recipient. As the story goes, the father through misty eyes told his daughter, “That’s the best present I could ever get. Thank you so much for your gift. I really NEEDED those kisses.” The truth is what we don’t just need the kisses (which we all do!) but more importantly, we need to be able to give them to others. When we are served by others, we need to serve them (and love them) back! It’s the way we recover our self respect and feel needed and appreciated – a universal need for everyone.
So remember when a patient or a patient’s family says “thank you for what you’ve done,” accept their thanks graciously, and, if possible, find a way to let them help you back. I often ask if they would like to talk with someone from the Foundation. I also love those brownies – perhaps a little too much! To let a grateful family give of themselves to help us do for other families what we did for them is another form of serving others. And in the final analysis, those kisses that you give to others ALWAYS come back to you. And THAT is the sweetest outcome of them all.
God bless you,
I wanted to share a discovery I made during my recent rounds at Inova Fairfax Medical Campus. Tune in!
Leading health care systems are incorporating more coordinated care services to keep patients well after they are discharged. Today I wanted to share some of my thoughts around why a health system like Inova believes it is important to provide a retail pharmacy on our medical campuses.
To the Inova family,
It seems like holiday gift giving barely ceases before the focus shifts to the ubiquitous suggestion that we think about resolutions for the coming New Year. I was reminded recently about a story of a young girl who when asked what she planned to give her father for Christmas said, “I am going to give you the very best hug you have ever received!” The father replied, “Why can’t I have my hug now?” to which she replied, “No, you have to wait until we open our presents.” I was struck by how well this little girl understood the power of positive anticipation and it reminded me of how different her positive approach is to how most of us await the coming 2014.
As I think back on 2013, it seems like this past year has been characterized by an almost unbroken sequence of significant change. First, we had the new Affordable Care Act and all its attendant changes; then we brought many new or renovated physical facilities online, and of course, who could forget the transition to Epic, our electronic medical record system. The truth I often say is that no one likes change except for a baby with a dirty diaper! We are all human and humans DO NOT LIKE CHANGE! Yet change is an inescapable part of our lives, and nearly all of us must admit that it leaves us exhausted and yearning for “the good old days,” or a previous reality with which we felt comfortable. When we think ahead to 2014, I think most of us internally groan and say, “Ugh! I don’t want any more change! Can’t we just leave things the way they are?”
The problem with a psychological stance of “just leave me alone—no more change!” is that it sets us up for a heavy load of frustration and misery in the New Year. Someone said,“You are just about as happy as you make up your mind to be.” Or said another way, “Our attitudes determine our altitude!” Whether we will be emotionally “high” or “low” in 2014 is largely determined by how we mentally anticipate the New Year. I dare say the father in the story above has a positive expectation of his daughter’s coming hug. My happiest times are when I am in the arms of one of my loved ones. My kids often could get away with most anything if it was accompanied by a hug for their dad! But the “active ingredient” that brings the most joy to our lives may not be the actual event (i.e., the hug itself) but rather the ANTICIPATION of the hug. The positive expectation that things can be better than they were gives rise to thoughts of how nice it would be to experience the energy of a better exercise routine, or an improved work process that reduces errors and strengthens patient teammate safety. Every bit of progress, either personal or professional, begins with positive anticipation— a belief or mental mindset that things can be better if we only embrace the change needed to create that new, better reality.
The story of the father and little girl continues as the little girl begins walking away, but doesn’t get very far away before she breaks down and runs back into her father’s arms and gives him a monstrously big hug with all the trimmings. “Why did you do that,” the father asked. And the little girl replied, “I just wanted you to know what you had to look forward to!”
Wouldn’t it be nice if we lived our lives with a mental picture of what we have to look forward to in this coming year? A warmer, deeper relationship with our kids and extended family; a tighter, well-functioning team at work; a new skill we will have mastered during the year; something we will have done to make ourselves healthier or to be a better coworker; the resurrection of a neglected friendship. None of these things will happen without a healthy dose of “positive anticipation” as you look forward to the better world that only change can bring.
For many of us, 2013 may have been a trying year. We may be reeling from what feels like an overdose of change. But I simply say “Thank You” to all those who enabled the positive changes in our lives—the people, who through an attitude of positive anticipation, created a better life for others and for themselves. I hope each of you will pause for a moment and thank the many people who made your life better in 2013—many of those change agents may be taken for granted at times: our coworkers – who serve us daily; our men and women in uniform – who stand in harm’s way to protect us; our families – who love us when we may not always deserve it; and all of you, in the Inova family – who care for our patients through hard work, creativity and great team work every day. I am personally thankful this Christmas for all of you who have been such blessings in my life. And you know what—next year is going to be even better!!
God bless you,
Healthcare reform and our industry markets are pushing health care organizations to increase affordability and improve efficiency. Healthcare systems are investing in new market sectors to better serve their patient populations by providing affordable, high quality care. Inova is leading the future of health by investing in several health plans and preparing for constant change in our industry. Tune in to hear more about why I believe Inova is leading the future of health.
We want to improve quality and patient experience while increasing affordability and lowering costs. But how do these things go together? This week, I wanted to talk about why high quality care does not equate to high cost and explain reasons why organizations with the highest quality care have the lowest cost.
Inova is partnering with Project HOPE to provide much-needed medical aid to the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan. Inova is proud to partner with Project HOPE’s relief efforts. For over 50 years, Project HOPE has provided humanitarian medical assistance and long-term, sustainable health education and training around the world. One hundred percent of your donation will go to humanitarian relief for those most vulnerable after this disaster. Learn more about donating or volunteering at www.inova.org/about-inova/inova-project-hope.