Taylor Hospital Wins Two HAP Awards
Two Taylor Hospital programs were named winners of Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) Achievement Awards.
Taylor was honored in the Community Benefit category for its submission, “Youth Volunteer Program: Where the Hospital Becomes the Classroom,” and in the Workplace category for its submission, “Creating a Culture of Physician Service Excellence to Enhance Physician Engagement.”
HAP is a statewide membership services organization that advocates for nearly 250 Pennsylvania acute and specialty care, primary care, subacute care, long-term care, home health, and hospice providers, as well as the patients and communities they serve.
Each year, HAP honors innovation, creativity, and commitment to patient care through its annual Achievement Awards. Entries for the 2011 awards were received from 168 hospital programs throughout the state, and the recipients of the 17 awards are considered the most innovative and creative in the health care field.
“We are very honored to receive these awards,” says Diane Miller, president of Taylor Hospital. “To be chosen as one of 17 winners out of 168 statewide entries is a great accomplishment, but it also speaks volumes about the programs and services that we offer at Taylor. My sincerest congratulations to Dr. Kalodner and his team as well as Helen Rodola, Stephanie LaFrance and Judy Lieberman, who were the catalysts of our award-winning programs.”
Youth Volunteer Program: Where the Hospital Becomes the Classroom
Judy Lieberman, director of Volunteer Services at Taylor Hospital, had the vision to provide high school and college students with a genuine opportunity to learn about future careers in health care combined with a community leadership experience.
In the past, approximately 125 students would sign up for summer volunteer activities at Taylor, but within two or three weeks, nearly 50 percent of them dropped out. Lieberman realized that new, more stimulating ideas had to be put into practice in order to provide a solution to this problem.
To achieve this goal, staff members were invited to “rethink” potential volunteer opportunities and to develop volunteer job descriptions in the hospital with the idea of engaging the students in future careers in health care. A “Pre-Med” track was established with the help of the Human Resources department and in conjunction with the Delaware County Technical School and local high schools. This program is for students that are enrolled in college and are interested in pursuing a career in any field that is related to health care. These students shadow physicians and other health care professionals. If a student expresses a specific desire to investigate a field of interest, opportunities are then tailored to meet their goals.
Lieberman also partnered with the “Spark the Wave” Foundation, which is based out of Philadelphia and Washington, DC. Their mission is to work with area youth to develop leadership skills and a passion for community service. This program includes communication exercises, group dynamics, problem-solving skills, event planning and program management.
The outcome of this more creative approach was a more interesting and career-focused volunteer opportunity for the students and a rising level of interest among volunteers. “If you can give the student some responsibilities and ownership, the more motivated the student becomes,” Lieberman says. “Involving students in a more interesting and rigorous summer experience provides a unique opportunity to expose the students to careers in medicine and allied health.”
Since starting the program, the student dropout rate has decreased from nearly 50 percent to only 5 percent, and students’ hours of program participation has increased by 20 percent. The program has generated interest from schools and students in a broader area, including two neighboring states.
Taylor Hospital is very committed to working with area youth students in many different focuses all year long, whether is it in the Medical Career programs or students with disabilities. “Our students become our ambassadors,” Lieberman says. “They talk up volunteering in their classes and many of them are surprised how much they enjoyed their experience. I have many students who volunteer their entire high school career and return for their college requirements. They feel like they are at home here, and much of that has to do with the relationships they have built with the hospital staff as well as the staff in the volunteer office.”
She adds, “What excites me about this award is that it was a blind submission. The reviewers did not know me or know our program personally; so therefore there was no bias. The program was truly honored by its merits,” Lieberman says. “I may implement most of the programs, but this award speaks to the dedication of our staff members and for our hospital community. They are the ones who will mentor many of the students.”
Creating a Culture of Physician Service Excellence to Enhance Physician Engagement
For years, Taylor Hospital has educated employees about the importance of excellent customer service for patient and employee satisfaction. In 2004, the hospital expanded its efforts to engage medical staff in the service excellence concept. The effort began with the formation of the Physician Service Excellence Committee, led by David R. Kalodner, D.O., chairman of the Department of Family Medicine.
“The ultimate goal of the committee was to influence the medical staff’s understanding of service excellence and create a culture where patient satisfaction is of equal importance with other aspects of clinical care,” Kalodner says.
Based on the results from a 2004 Medical Staff Satisfaction Survey, the committee identified several key areas where physician satisfaction could be improved. Some of these areas were collaboration between nursing staff and medical staff; communication with nursing leadership; medical staff’s input into strategic planning improvements to the workplace environment; and increased training of the medical staff.
The committee began to work on improving these areas, with the support of the medical staff leaders and hospital administration. Some of these efforts included:
- Key areas were identified and renovated on patient floors where physicians would have desk space, computers and private areas where conversations with families could be held.
- Continuing Medical Education programs were designed and offered to foster and support joint academic opportunities between the medical staff and nursing staff.
- Avenues were formed for a more formalized basis of communication between administration and the medical staff regarding staffing concerns, recruitment efforts and involvement in long-range institutional planning.
- Initiatives were developed to lay the foundation to get back to basics and improve communication between physicians, nursing staff, patients and families.
- Programs and educational efforts were implemented to support the medical staff in achieving improvement goals and fostering a culture of understanding patient satisfaction and national patient safety goals.
The success of the committee’s efforts is evident in Taylor’s medical staff surveys. The percentage of physicians who expressed satisfaction in the survey category “Medical staff’s concern for and understanding of patient satisfaction initiatives” has risen from 32 percent to 82 percent between 2004 and today.
“Since the committee was formed, the response rate and understanding rates have both increased dramatically,” Kalodner says. “We feel that these improvements are in direct relationship to the shift in physician engagement as it relates to the culture change and the overall hospital mission to create a positive patient experience of care.”