September 19, 2008

Medical Center’s long list of ‘wins’ highlighted at meeting

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Attendees at last week’s elevate meeting celebrate “What’s Right at Vanderbilt.” (photo by Susan Urmy)

Medical Center’s long list of ‘wins’ highlighted at meeting

Last Thursday and Friday in Langford Auditorium, more than 1,300 Vanderbilt Medical Center leaders and their guests focused on celebrating “What's Right at Vanderbilt.”

The festive program — punctuated with confetti cannons, sound and lighting effects, and brightly colored balloons dropping from the auditorium ceiling — was the latest installment of the elevate Leadership Development Institute, the Medical Center’s ongoing series of quarterly management seminars.

Speakers included Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, who extolled VMC's various contributions to the life of this city.

The mayor's appearance capped a morning of buoyant presentations about the purpose and meaning of the work of individuals and teams at VMC.

“It's an upbeat kind of day,” said Chief Learning Officer Peter Giammalvo, Ph.D., from the stage at the start of the day.

He wasn't kidding.

Before the celebration began in earnest, Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs, introduced goals for 2009 and gave his quarterly management progress report.

“Our efforts at achieving quality in our clinical enterprise are really paying off and I think we're doing a wonderful job,” he said.

The inpatient mortality rate for fiscal 2008 was 74 deaths per 100 expected deaths, which turned out to be the fifth lowest risk-adjusted mortality rate among the nation's academic medical centers with level one trauma centers. (The formula for mortality risk is developed by VMC's peer group, University Healthsystems Consortium.)

Jacobson said VMC would aim this year to lower mortality further to 71 deaths per 100 expected deaths.

Additional quality goals include more use of evidence-based medicine order sets.

“Too often decisions that are made are not evidence-based. Moving in that direction is an important goal for us,” he said.

Jacobson also presented outcomes and goals for service, growth, finance and employee satisfaction and retention (his presentation will be available soon on the elevate Web site).

“I think we're already in the U.S. top 10 — and it won't be long before U.S. News makes that official,” Jacobson concluded.

Leading up to Dean's address, the crowd heard thoughtful, heartfelt and freely flowing praises from family members of patients, community leaders, regional and national health care leaders, student representatives, administrators and faculty leaders, some live on stage, some on video.

A video story about the student-run Shade Tree Family Clinic, which provides free care to uninsured residents in East Nashville, was a high point of the morning.

Other VMC programs highlighted at the event included the Palliative Care Service and the Comprehensive Regional Pediatric Center.

Dean, who enrolled at Vanderbilt Law 30 years ago, said he talks up the Medical Center when he travels around the country.

“There are a lot of things you do for this city that don't get the attention they deserve,” Dean said, citing VMC programs that serve children, the homeless and the uninsured. “Know that we are thankful and that you are appreciated.”

Earlier in the morning, Jacobson presented awards to top scorers for patient satisfaction, including those clinicians and groups who finished the year in the nation's top 1 percent, as measured by Vanderbilt's satisfaction surveyor.

Called to the stage to accept Top Performer Awards were Audrey Case, F.N.P.; Rosemary Cope, L.P.C.; John Dixon, M.D.; Thomas Doyle, M.D.; William Gregg, M.D., M.P.H.; and Howard Jones III, M.D. Groups in the top 1 percent included 5S Neuro ICU, Addiction Medicine Outpatient Therapy, Cardiology Outpatient Cath Lab, Children's Hospital NICU, Clinical Research Center and Pediatric Otolaryngology Day Surgery.

In the afternoon, participants moved to breakout sessions focused on methods for boosting patient satisfaction and employee morale and a workshop on sharpening group presentation skills.