One of the things about being a healthcare CEO is that you become the very visible face of the organization. In many cases, the public believes you are closely involved with everything that happens within the walls of the organization. Unfortunately, that does a great disservice to the hundreds of employees and volunteers and the difference they make in the lives of people every day. CEOs provide vision, leadership and support of the organization’s mission, but it’s everyday employees who execute that mission.
Of course, we all know the critical role played by physicians, nurses and clinical staff members. Think hospital, and your mind immediately conjures up an image of a white-coated physician or a nurse at someone’s bedside. It’s been that way for a century at KershawHealth. What we often forget, however, is the equally important role played by the large group of employees and volunteers working in the background.
I recall chatting with a group of housekeeping employees one day and realizing that very often their jobs go unnoticed. Day after day, floors get cleaned and beds get changed -- all with little fanfare. That led me to remind these employees of one very important fact. If the hospital’s CEO isn’t around for a few days, nothing much changes. Patients get treated, the lights stay on and meals get served on time. But if these “boots on the ground” employees don’t show up, this well-oiled organization will quickly come to a standstill.
Walk through the halls of KershawHealth and you’ll pass the entrances to dozens of departments … medical records, centralized scheduling, patient financial services, security, materials management, plant operations and more. Most of the public will never enter them, and doesn’t understand the full scope of what goes on in those departments. Behind those doors, though, are scores of employees and volunteers who make this healthcare system possible; people who are an essential part of our success.
They make sure the supplies we need are purchased and distributed efficiently. They’re in the kitchen before dawn preparing breakfast for patients and employees, or working in the laundry to provide clean linens throughout the day. They’re here in the middle of the night when a water pipe bursts or the computer system crashes. They reassure anxious patients and make days brighter for our long term care residents. Some spend hours poring over complex coding manuals to ensure bills are properly paid; while others are the welcoming smile that helps you get registered quickly and properly or answer questions you have.
Today’s hospitals are incredibly complex organizations. As CEO, I have the ability to see how KershawHealth’s myriad parts work together to create an amazing system of care. It’s a challenge to manage that, and it’s also humbling. The next time you’re here, take a minute to stop and look around carefully at all the people working around you. I believe you’ll be amazed at what you see.