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‘You Are Vi+al’

KH celebrates its employees in new campaign, videos

Posted: May 29, 2014 5:45 p.m.
Updated: May 30, 2014 5:00 a.m.

During a special invitation-only event Thursday afternoon and evening at the old Pine Tree Hill Elementary School on Lakeshore Drive in Camden, KershawHealth launched a new “employee engagement” campaign. The campaign, called “You Are Vi+al” (the “+” -- actually an orange colored healthcare symbol -- represents the letter “t”), features six 2-1/2 to 3 minute videos celebrating employees who go “above and beyond” for KershawHealth’s patients, visitors, fellow employees and others.

The campaign is technically an internal one for now, but will transform into an external marketing effort later on as a way of generating community support for the healthcare system. The idea is to recognize that KershawHealth employees, through their good works, are the organization’s best ambassadors.

Two days before the drop-in and family picnic at old Pine Tree Hill, members of the KershawHealth Board of Trustees got the chance to preview the videos during its monthly board meeting. The board met Tuesday due to the Memorial Day holiday on Monday.

“There’s a lot of stories that float around the community about KershawHealth,” interim CEO Terry Gunn said. “Some may be true, some may have a shred of truth to them, but that may be about it. They key is, we need to create new stories. The only way we can create new stories, is to share them internally, to let the people who make those stories happen -- our employees, our physicians, our caregivers -- be recognized for what they do, and we can retell those stories internally.

“Hopefully, that will lead to a snowball effect of more stories that will be shared on our new website … and, as those stories start to build, we’ll start to shift our focus back out to the community. Other people can see these videos, they can see still shots with other stories wrapped around them, and create a new generation of legends and stories about the organization.”

Gunn said that by focusing on the people involved, the stories will focus on “what we do and who we are.”

“We think that’s more powerful that any statement that can be made by any other health system about their latest toy that they bought,” he said.

The videos feature Tim Hornsby, director of KershawHealth RACE Rehab, and patient Randy Player and his wife, Paulette; Peggy Mothershed, director of nutrition and food serves, celebrating the work of Cafeteria Supervisor Julia Stewart; Brice McKoy on how Hospice Nurse Hope Munn, Hospice Social Worker and Bereavement Coordinator Dana Fleming and the entire hospice team, made his father, Dr. Peter McKoy’s last days special; Hettie Fludd, an environmental services assistant, being praised by Director of Environmental Services Director David Hance; Director of Pharmacy Doug Murray, nurse managers Lee Hunter and Kathy Clemons and IT/pharmacist Sam Hogue about barcode technology that ensures patients get the right medication, in the right dosage, at the right time; and Dick and Millie Hazelwinkel talking about how Urgent Care at Elgin Nurse Manager Becky Yarborough went above and beyond for Mr. Hazelwinkel, with additional praise from Urgent Care Medical Director Dr. Shelley Jannssen.

All six videos went live Thursday night on the You Are Vi+al campaign website, www.youarevital.org. The site also highlights testimonials and achievements by employees and KershawHealth departments.

One of the many achievements noted on the website prior to the campaign’s official launch was also celebrated at Tuesday’s board meeting. In her report to trustees from the Board Quality Committee, Vice Chair Dr. Tallulah Holmstrom said that in April, for the first time ever, KershawHealth scored 100 percent on six national Quality Core Measures: acute myocardial infarction (heart attack), congestive heart failure, pudenal nerve entrapment (pain in the lower central pelvic area), surgical care improvement project (a program to reduce post-surgical complications), stroke, and venous thromboembolism (blood clot in a deep vein).

“What that really means is … for those patients, every patient that was treated that month for each and every one of those conditions got perfect care,” Holmstrom said. “I’m not sure how much better it gets than that. It won’t happen every month, but it means that we, as an organization, can do it.”

Holmstrom’s comments and those surrounding the launch of the new You Are Vi+al campaign were not the only positive ones at Tuesday’s meeting. One highlight: thanking Judy Hall for acting as interim Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) and congratulating Stacy Collier for being promoted to become KershawHealth’s new permanent CNO. Collier most recently served as director of quality and regulatory compliance. Gunn said administrators interviewed 35 candidates but that Collier kept coming back to them as standing “head and shoulders” above the rest.

“We’re excited about the trajectory she’s going to put us on,” Gunn said.

Trustees also had good things to say about the KershawHealth Foundation’s recent $675,000 gift toward the pending installation of a more than $1 million patient management system.

“It further solidifies their support and their willingness to be a more unified group, confidence in the trustees moving forward and it was a really positive move,” said Board Chair Karen Eckford who attended the Foundation’s meeting.

Trustee Derial Ogburn suggested the board formally resolve to thank the foundation, something trustees may do at a subsequent meeting.

“I think (the gift) is a tremendous step forward (about) what we do here around this table, and having them stand up and make that big commitment is not unnoticed by me and, I’m sure, by the rest of us. It’s outstanding to see them do that,” Ogburn said.

Holmstrom said she also attended the meeting where the foundation voted on the patient management system as well and stepped out of the meeting while foundation board members discussed the gift ahead of the vote.

“We were sitting out there,” she said, pointing to the lobby of the Health Resource Center where trustees meet, “and (Vice President of Marketing and Community Development) Joseph (Bruce) comes out of the room and had this great smile on his face and he goes, ‘It was unanimous,’ and the feeling from the hospital representatives, who spent two years vetting this system … it brought tears to my eyes of how excited they were, how they finally felt validated, that there was confidence in them. A simple vote can say to these folks so much more … I really just get the sense that the storm might be ending and the sunlight’s coming out and everything might be turning in a really good direction. It was a really wonderful moment for those folks to feel that.”

Ogburn said that is a reflection of the excellent employees at KershawHealth.

“I agree,” said Trustee Wayne Tidwell. “It’s finally gotten to the point where I feel it’s positive to come into one of these board meetings and feel good about it rather than (dealing with) more fires than we can put out. I’m enjoying everything I’m hearing. Everything’s more positive.”

“I feel a group hug coming on,” Trustee Paul Napper said, bringing a round of laughter from around the table, and then congratulated Collier on her promotion.

Several trustees also mentioned friends, family members or others who spent time in KershawHealth’s emergency department or through hospice who said they had good experiences.

Also Tuesday, following a lengthy executive session, trustees voted 8-0, with Napper abstaining, to retain Ponder & Co., a healthcare financial services company to create “evaluation materials” to solicit offers from potential strategic partners. Ogburn made the motion, referring to page 15 of KershawHealth’s strategic plan which notes the shift to a patient-centric model.

“Responding to this shift effectively will require expertise and capital that KershawHealth simply does not possess,” the plan states. “Consequently, an openness to explore options some might consider radical is imperative. Strategic partnerships and financial alliances -- with non-profit as well as investor-owned entities -- will be at the forefront of KershawHealth’s plan for the future.”

Ogburn said Ponder & Co. should provide KershawHealth with “strategic and financial advice concerning those transactions.”

On the financial front, Executive Vice President and CFO/COO Mike Bunch reported that KershawHealth suffered an operating loss of $199,000 in April, compared to a $410,000 loss in April 2013. Net assets decreased as well for the month, but only by $9,100, compared to nearly $280,000 a year ago. Fiscal year to date, KershawHealth has suffered a $2.27 million loss and a nearly equal decrease in net assets.

Bad debt and charity were $1.1 million, or 34.5 percent below April 2013’s figures. However, Bunch pointed out that was primarily due to the reversal of three large charity write-offs approved by Medicaid during the month.

As has been the case for some time, admissions were below prior year figures by nearly 12 percent. In the meantime, in another ongoing trend, observation patients increased by nearly 41 percent. Insurance reimbursements are lower for patients categorized as undergoing observation rather than being admitted as true inpatients. Bunch said these trajectories are “unsustainable.”

He said May should end up being similar to April but with numbers that are, perhaps, even further off the mark.

Gunn noted that emergency department visits -- which are down nearly 15 percent of the fiscal year to date -- appear to only be off by 3 percent for April compared to a year ago. Holmstrom likened the emergency department to the hospital’s “front door.” She said national trends are that emergency departments are “overwhelmed” with patients due to effects from the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansions, but noted that is not the case here. She said she hoped Gunn’s information would indicate a reversal of that trend for KershawHealth.

Holmstrom also noted that a number of people are telling her that KershawHealth ambulances are taking them to other facilities instead of Camden’s. Trustee Eric Boland said he recently saw two KershawHealth ambulances at a hospital in Columbia. However, Dr. Andrew Piasecki, KershawHealth’s current chief of staff, gave trustees an example of when taking a patient to another facility can be life-saving.

Piasecki said a recent patient’s situation was such that he needed to be brought to KershawHealth first before being transferred to a northeast Richland County hospital. He said that if an ambulance had tried to take the patient directly to the Columbia hospital, the patient likely would have died.

A little later in the meeting, Gunn updated trustees on preparation for the new partnership with TeamHealth in the emergency department. He said one physician has agreed to stay on as the interim facility director. He also said two of the existing four other emergency physicians have agreed to remain as part of the TeamHealth staff. The other two have yet to make a decision, Gunn said.

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