CEO Ed Rush joined employees to celebrate the new mission at a cookout on Wednesday. The staff enjoyed lunch and Dippin' Dots and participated in games, giveaways, and raffles. Each employee received a pen, a sunshade, and a badge reel with the new logo.
Iredell Health System's mission to 'Inspire Wellbeing Together'
BY DEBBIE PAGE
In conjunction with National Hospital Week, Iredell Health System (IHS) publicly unveiled its new mission, vision and guiding values at a Wednesday morning press conference with CEO Ed Rush, IHS board member Susan Tolle, and several employees deeply involved in the creation process.
IHS’s new mission is “Inspire Wellbeing - Together,” which focuses on striving “to inspire our patients, their families and our coworkers to be their best ... the heart of all we do is each person’s wellbeing,” according to the IHS press release.
The word together is meant to cement the idea each individual's contributions leads consumers and employees to healthier, happy lives.
IHS board member Tolle said she hopes that employees being engaged in the mission will mean that they will go to work to realize their “hopes and dreams. You internalize it and it becomes a part of you.”
Because healthcare technology, regulations, and delivery constantly evolve, Rush said the new vision is more to the point and “something people could remember, something that people could get up each day and hold in their hearts, that would be a reason that they are doing what they are doing. That was really important to us.”
The system’s vision is to guide neighbors to optimal health in their medical or life circumstances. IHS wants to play an integral role in making sure it meets patients and their families where they are and helps them reach their best or most favorable outcome, he said.
To achieve its vision and mission, IHS employees will embrace the values of compassion, respect, collaboration, and integrity with each other, patients, families, and the community in all of their facilities throughout the county and in surrounding counties.
“In two to three years from now, this will become automatic in our planning process, our strategic planning process, our performance process with our employees. They’ll understand what ‘inspiring wellbeing together’ means in their departments - to take it from words to what’s it really mean as we take care of and work with our patients,” said Rush.
“The way we deliver healthcare is changing, has changed, and we’re right in the midst of more major change,” said Rush. “We cannot deliver healthcare in the future if we don’t have a very engaged group of employees and a medical staff that is not together on what’s our mission, why are we here, what’s our vision, where do we want to be, what are our core values, and what’s important to us here at work.”
In 1954, when Iredell Memorial first opened, its charter focused on the health of individuals. “As a country, we have focused really well on taking care of people when they are sick, but we’ve not done a really good job on keeping people healthy. We have to get to that and reduce the number of people who have to be treated for illness and sickness or we’re going to go broke, frankly,” added Rush.
Rush wants to marshal community resources, families, schools, churches, and organizations that can help IHS’s neighbors in Iredell County and in surrounding areas live healthier lives.
The committee picked the word “optimal” health in its vision because that’s very specific to an individual. A patient having a baby and a cancer patient coming for treatment have different definitions of “optimal health.” Whatever their circumstances, Rush wants IHS to be the source to guide individuals to optimal health during and after their hospital stays.
If the focus becomes healthy habits and preventative care, “maybe you will never have to visit our hospital. Ultimate success would be that you never have to cross these doors for test or procedures,” said Rush. “But we want to be here if they need it.”
“We’re humanizing people again,” added Brooke Mason, Director of Patient Experience. “Every person has a different story. We are here to make sure we are getting them to where they need to be, not just while they are here but after they leave. Their families are their foundation for their healing process as well, but we are still here to support them.
In Medicare Insurance Advocate Rosezitta Proctor’s family, service before self is mandatory, a value that she believes exists in IHS’s new focus. “These values allow us to continue to respect diversity as well as cultural changes around us, which is very important.”
Dr. Mahdi Ajjan also favors the return to an individual approach to medicine. “Throughout my years in working in hospitals, I always felt we need to do more than just treat a disease. We need to see the patients as human and inspire them to healthy living.”
“We have many challenges in our community,” Ajjan said. “We have tobacco dependence, narcotic dependence, obesity - these are big challenges. It’s an opportunity for us at the hospital to become a teaching center, not only to treat diseases. We can teach them how to prevent acute illnesses. We can address their social issues along with their medical issues.”
Rush wants IHS to focus on population health, which focuses on keeping specific groups of people healthy. “The key to that outreach will be collaboration with existing entities. How do we take this vision and work with organizations in the community to make that happen? If we don’t do that as a country, we are not going to be successful in redefining how we deliver healthcare.”
IHS will also follow up with patients with their electronic data records that help IHS to provide better health solutions. They will also keep in contact to get them further help with primary care physicians and medications before they end up back in the ER.
IHS is also beginning a new program on June 1 to touch base with patients within the first 24 hours after discharge to connect them with additional care, answer any questions that emerged after arriving home, or check on patient medication use and follow-up appointments. “We want to improve the patient and family experience while they are here and after they leave,” said Mason.
The hospital has 25-30 admissions per day, in addition to observation patients, so the effort will be conducted by an outside agency, with follow-up from hospital staff as required.
Ajjan also cited a transitional care clinic, at which doctors can see patients without insurance up to three times after discharge, as another important IHS focus on community. The clinic will help patients connect with a primary care physician or direct them to a free clinic in Statesville for continuing care.
“This is coming from our commitment to our community. We have to treat these people, follow up with them, get them on the right track,” said Ajjan.
IHS Wellness Teams are also at many public events. They tailor presentations and materials to target specific groups at the event, educating the public on issues such as breast or colorectal cancer awareness. “We are always looking for opportunities,” said Kowalski.
Rush said that they are also looking at how to better deliver behavioral health services, partnering with local agencies and governmental entities.
The IHS Board of Directors approved the new guiding principles on April 6, with distribution to the system’s nearly 1,600 employees occurring on the following day. Banners and posters are up throughout the hospital to begin the cultural change, according to IHS Director of Planning and Communication Meagan Kowalski.
The process began when the Cultural Transformation Committee (CTC), which formed about 18 months ago, issued an employee engagement survey and began working to address employee responses. “One of the things we thought tied right in was creating a new mission, vision, and values statement. Healthcare is changing, and we want to keep up with the times,” said Kowalski.
About 40 CTC committee members, IHS board members, various medical and other hospital staff, community members, and employees across the system met to “pound it out,” using over 2,100 suggestions from employee surveys, according to Kowalski.
“People were excited to be representing their areas. That was what was so beautiful about it. They wanted to be a part of it,” said Mason.
“In that room, everybody was equal. Wherever they were in the organization, everybody was equal, and everyone respected others’ opinions. It was an amazing experience,” said Tolle.