Posted by: tucsonjefe | February 8, 2007

Leadership thoughts: Accessible

In November my mother-in-law had major surgery.  In the process of being in and around the hospital I noticed some things that I believe are going to help me become a better leader.  Delivering health care in a large institution is quite a challenge.  It requires coordination of lots of people to provide complex services to individuals in a compromised condition.  I like the analogy to “church-world.”  Here are some of the things I learned.

1. Speak in plain English (or whatever language your patient speaks).  One very distracted young lady came to take Udell somewhere before her surgery.  When asked her where she was going, she informed us she was headed for “Nuke Lab.”  Because of my hospital background, I was able to decipher this code to mean Nuclear Medicine, but you can see the possibility of fear and trepidation that might come from using hospital code names on folks who don’t speak the language.  Udell did not want to be nuked or experimented upon.  In church-world we have to remember that not everybody knows we are the righteous gathering to eat the Word and have the Spirit move causing some to be slain in the Spirit, or that sinners are simply unbelievers, not some despised underclass.  You get the idea.  Lord, remind me to speak English.

2. Information is a powerful tool.  I found it distressing that when I asked the nurse why Udell was going to the “Nuke Lab,” she had no idea.  In fact, she didn’t know why Udell was there.  She only knew what the order sheet said was her responsibility: start the IV and give the pills.  Upon arriving in her room after surgery, the floor personnel did not know when the surgery had taken place or exactly what had been done.  This was not peace-inspiring.  I am going to communicate better so that the workers in our church can intelligently respond to people’s needs.

3. To do the job right takes a team mentality.  When Udell needed ice, we punched the call button. A light came on over her door and a bell began to ring.  It rang, and rang, and rang.  I finally walked to the desk where I found several staff people chatting with one another.  I was informed where I might go to find some ice, and that Udell’s nurse was busy with another patient.  It was classic “It’s not my job.”  Each nurse and aide had his or her defined responsibilities.  If a patient next door died from inattention, it was not their responsibility.  There was absolutely no concern for patient care, only a desire to perform the minimum requirements to remain employed.  Oh, God, help me to lead in such a way that our mission becomes a “we” thing and not a “me” thing. 

4. It is important to remember who the customer is.  As I watched the hubbub around the nurse’s station, I realized again that patients were not the point.  The hospital exists to serve doctors and insurance companies.  Doctors provide patients.  Insurance companies pay for them.  The patients are the commodity, not the customer.  Therefore, all the time and energy goes into waiting on the doctors and writing on the charts (insurance records).  The patients, meanwhile, lay quietly on the shelf like canned green beans at the grocery.  Lord, help us to get it right.  Relationship with You and Your people is what we have to offer.  The precious folks who come in the door are the point.  Deliver us from the inbreeding of cliquish chit-chat and make us deliverers of power and love.

5. if you advertise a service, then provide it.  It would be better to disconnect the call button than to tell patients, “If you need anything just push that button and someone will come help you.”  No they won’t.  Help will come only when the person assigned to your room (not to you) is not on break, talking to a doctor, or helping another room.  If an emergency occurs, scream and call 911.  False security is worse than no security.  Expectations create frustration and irritation when they are not met.  Lord, help us to accurately reflect who we are and what we do.  Give us grace to be people of our word.

Scripture Reading: Love should always make us tell the truth. Then we will grow in every way and be more like Christ, the head of the body. Christ holds it together and makes all of its parts work perfectly, as it grows and becomes strong because of love. As a follower of the Lord, I order you to stop living like stupid, godless people. (Ephesians 4:15-17 CEV)

Somebody Said:   Management is nothing more than motivating other people.   — Lee Iacocca

Udell seems to be doing quite well, thanks to Jesus.  Help us Lord, to deliver Your care to a broken people in a way that is most effective.



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