United by a Common Culture

Debbie Simon, UnityPoint Health

I always look forward to the start of a new year. It’s a time to reflect on what’s been accomplished since the calendar last changed. It’s also a time to recharge, making plans for what you want to achieve during the next 365 days.

A Milestone Anniversary
For UnityPoint Health, the start of a new year marks a special milestone. It’s the first anniversary of our affiliation with Progressive Health Systems, which included Pekin Hospital and ProHealth Medical Group. As 2018 begins, patients in the communities we serve have already experienced the benefits of our affiliation. Those benefits are not entirely driven by the operational decisions we’ve made. They’re happening because we’ve prioritized uniting our teams in delivering outstanding care, no matter which facility they’re working in.

When our affiliation became official, it was important to me that we began to work immediately to create one culture across our three hospital campuses, dozens of clinics, home care and hospice settings. I believed a common culture could unite our workforces in a powerful way. Unity is important in any workplace, but it’s especially important when you’re in the business of caring for people. Many of our patients encounter us at more than one of our facilities. They expect us to deliver continuity in their care experience. Technology helps us do that, but I believe a shared sense of mission across all of our care settings is more powerful. It challenges our teams to innovate new ways to improve patient experience. It drives us to support each other in demanding excellence. And when we work together, patients notice. It’s how we show them how much they matter.

Common Values
A powerful tool in uniting our culture was a set of common values. Values are more than words—they’re commitments we make to ourselves and each other that make delivering our mission intrinsic in our daily work. One year into our affiliation, I’m proud to say that our team members are dedicated to living the same values daily, no matter which facility they work in. And by doing so, they’ve made some remarkable progress.

One example is our regional daily safety huddle, an opportunity for hospital department leaders and representatives (both clinical and non-clinical) to take an active role in process change and proactive assessment of matters surrounding patient care. We’ve brought new specialists to Pekin, which allows more patients who come to our Pekin Emergency Department to stay in Pekin, likely closer to their families or support systems. We’ve also expanded the roles of talented leaders to cover our entire region. By doing so, we’ve found ways to capitalize on the resources of both organizations. In the new year, we’ll be working to keep this momentum, further enhancing access to high-quality care and care coordination across all of the communities we serve.

As I look back on the last year, I have wondered at times if we could have made this much progress without a common set of values. I believe the answer is no. We could have made similar operational decisions. But patient care is in the hands of our team members, and when they are driven by the same sense of commitment no matter the setting, experiences that can’t be created in a boardroom are made.

As 2018 unfolds, I expect to see more benefits of our common culture emerge. Teams grow stronger as they work together longer. For UnityPoint Health and our patients, it’s my hope that growing together makes this our healthiest year yet. iBi

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