Thursday, January 27, 2022

Teamwork Works at NCH



Straight Talk
Allen S Weiss, M.D.
President & CEO NCH Healthcare System

NCH has three primary goals: (1) Improve the quality of care, (2) increase patient safety, and (3) enhance the patient experience. To accomplish these goals requires one thing in particular — shared decision-making from all of our 4,000 colleagues.

With an “A” grade on safety for both campuses from Leapfrog, a well-respected national accreditation organization, we must be doing something right in terms of integrating the formidable resources of our entire caregiving team. This team-based model involves those who are closest to patients and families. By being involved and directing professional standards and behavior, all of us are able to provide better care, receive better care, and have a much more satisfying and engaging experience.

This team-oriented journey started for NCH four years ago in nursing, under the transformational leadership of Chief Nursing Officer Michele Thoman. Our more than 1,000 nurses have transformed their practice at NCH by operating through nine committees, which meet monthly to share best practices, evaluate new technology, standardize care, model communication, and reward and recognize the outstanding work being done locally. Results speak for themselves. We now have the lowest annual turnover and least number of open positions ever. In some areas, we have a waiting list of applicants. We also haven’t had traveling nurses for two years.

More recently, the Respiratory Therapy and Rehabilitation Departments adopted this same methodology. Today, we are poised to go system-wide, from top to bottom and side to side. Having a common shared decision making methodology, that emphasizes participatory decision-making ensures the best outcomes for patients, community and ultimately ourselves. Successful healthcare systems like ours create a positive culture of trust and open communication in which all stakeholders share a common purpose and worthwhile work, and are all making a difference. These are the goals we stress with new employees at their first orientation and throughout their careers with us.

For the past year, we have enhanced this participatory decision-making model with the MyIDEA program, which rewards colleagues for contributions adding to value (quality/cost). Thus far, 15 employees have received cash awards ranging from $50 to $2,900 for their good ideas. Here are a few examples:

• Rhonda Gary, accounts receivable service rep, suggested changing the face of patient hospital bills, placing credit card information on the front, thus increasing visibility, convenience and payment.

• Nicole Low, unit secretary ICU, suggested stopping production of consent and other lab forms every time a test was ordered. These permissions now will be completed once during a hospital stay.

• Jillian Ewel and Mercedes Rankin, pathology office coordinators, and Histologist Matt Rudy together suggested ceasing a process involving surgical specimens where spare samples were never used and most times damaged during storage.

• Adam Francis, clinical educator, noticed Clinical Engineering replaced our telemetry wires with a different brand; asked a nurse in Angioplasty to “pilot” an alternative ECG wire for a month to ensure they were of similar quality. Resulted in a 25 percent savings annually by switching to the new telemetry wires

• Peter Beckler, Cardiac Cath Lab Supply, suggested a way to transfer the logo and information fields onto blank discs that cost 14 cents each, instead of $3.50 each.

These are the people on the front lines, who implement their great ideas, are key to shared decision-making, and help make our system the envy of many others, as we continue to serve our patients and our community.


In September 2006, Dr. Allen Weiss was appointed president and CEO of the NCH Healthcare System, a 715-bed, two-hospital integrated health care system. NCH is one of only twenty hospitals in the country affiliated with Mayo Clinic, and has been named three times by “U. S. News and World Report” as best in the region and among the 50 best cardiovascular programs according to Truven. He is a graduate of Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, and completed his training at both the New York Presbyterian Hospital and Hospital for Special Surgery of Cornell University. He also had a solo practice in Rheumatology, Internal Medicine and Geriatrics for 23 years, and is board certified in all three specialties. He is recognized both as a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a Fellow of the American College of Rheumatology. His wife, Dr. Marla Weiss, is a writer and educator, and they have two daughters who are physicians.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *