Hospital employee satisfaction up year after Novant deal

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Mark Wineka
A year ago, in the early stages of Novant Health’s partnership with Rowan Regional Medical Center, employee satisfaction wallowed at 35 percent.
Hospital officials reported Thursday night that employee satisfaction has jumped dramatically to 95.3 percent, putting it in the top 10 percent of hospitals across the country.
Patients also have noticed an improvement, according to some benchmark scores.
Chief Operating Officer John Pruitt said Rowan Regional Medical Center started in the 61st percentile in Medicare patient satisfaction but had improved to 92 percent overall and a 100 percent rating in December 2008.
Jeff Lindsay, president of Rowan Regional Medical and chief operating officer for the Central Piedmont market, said the Salisbury hospital recently led the whole Novant Health system in quality care scores, which also exceeded national and state averages.
The good news reflects the partnerships Novant is trying to build with the hospital’s 1,500 employees, its physicians and the community, Lindsay said.
But he cautioned major contributors gathered for the Rowan Regional Medical Center Foundation’s annual dinner that there remains a huge challenge in the gap between where the hospital is and where it wants to be.
“We have formed a wonderful partnership (with Novant),” said Glenn Ketner Jr., chairman of the medical center’s board of directors.
Ketner said he is always glad to tell people who ask that he feels better now about the partnership than he did when the agreement was first announced. He said Lindsay has brought great energy and dedication to the hospital.
Lindsay predicted people in the community “will be hearing some things” about Rowan Regional.
One thing he hopes the community will be saying is, “Wow, that hospital was easy to use.”
He wants the hospital to be a place where patients report to an appointment, are seen immediately, have their examinations or tests and go home.
Every hospital has a waiting room, Lindsay said.
“We’re going to eliminate that,” he added, promising care would be designed around the needs of the patient, not the provider.
Lindsay said he also wants to hear people saying, “That’s my hospital, and that’s where you can get the best care.”
He envisions a hospital where the doctors and nurses build relationships and meet a patient’s needs before the patient knows what those needs are. The hospital can’t bring a cure to every patient, but it can bring healing, Lindsay said.
Lindsay said employees of the hospital have the best ideas, and they will play a major role in shaping “the direction we take in the future.”
The hospital also is partners with some of the best physicians, who do the right things for the right reasons, Lindsay said. Those physicians also will drive the future, he suggested.
When Novant partners with communities, its goal is to improve the health of those communities one person at a time, Lindsay said. Its vision statement says the company “will deliver the most remarkable patient experience in every dimension, every time,” he noted.
“Everywhere I look, I see signs of generosity, commitment and support,” he told the foundation supporters.
Pruitt said the hospital received high marks from six health regulators last October. Overall, the hospital has increased the engagement and partnership with physicians, improved managed care contracting, relaunched the cardiovascular program and maintained 10 beds in its acute care rehabilitation unit.
Rowan Regional continues to grow, adding physicians and maintaining active surgeries รณ thanks to its partnership with Novant, Pruitt said.
Chief Nursing Officer Edwina Ritchie said she was excited with the direction the Smith Heart and Vascular Center is going and its efforts to keep patients close to home.
The hospital recently received its recertification in stroke care and is meeting its challenge to be a top provider of that care, Ritchie said. Land preparation for a new hospice home is almost ready, and construction should start soon on that facility.
“We want to be the premier hospice in Rowan County,” Ritchie said.
Thursday night’s program, guided by master of ceremonies Ronnie Smith, also honored the Miles J. Smith Jr. family with the 2009 Wilson L. Smith Philanthropic Award.
Members of the Smith family in attendance included Katharine and Miles Smith Jr., Martha Smith Allen, David Harrison and Angela Smith Harrison, Cathy and Miles Smith III, Susan and Hayes Smith, Tracy and Kenan Smith and some grandchildren.
The family was honored for its exceptional philanthropy and sustained service in support of Rowan Regional Medical Center and their advancement of healthcare in the county.
Miles and Katharine Smith now live in Florida, but Kenan Smith said they had no hesitation in making the trip back to Salisbury when they learned the award was named for Wilson Smith.
“We all know it’s imperative to have a strong, growing hospital,” said Kenan Smith, who sits on the foundation board of directors.
The foundation also used the evening to announce its new annual partnership program, the Whitehead-Stokes Society.
Dr. John Whitehead and Dr. J. Ernest Stokes were doctors and business partners from whom the Whitehead-Stokes Sanitorium took its name. That hospital, which later became known as Salisbury Hospital and Rowan General Hospital, was the precursor to Rowan Memorial, which opened in August 1937.
The new society will be a fund-raising effort beyond the annual golf tournament and Patrons Ball.
People who give at least $1,000 a year for the first five years will be considered charter members of the Whitehead-Stokes Society.
The kickoff for the society program will be held in September.
The foundation paid tribute Thursday to 15 “special friends” of Rowan Regional Medical Center and the foundation who died since Feb. 1, 2008.
They were Martha Agner, Francis Aull, Dr. Joe Corpening, Jack Crowell, Jim Fowler, John Van Hanford Jr., D.C. Linn, Frances Linn, Ed McKenzie, Frances McNeely, Justin Monroe, Judy Norvell, Katharine Osborne, Jack Owens and Jean Williams.