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3 factors for an optimal healing environment

Posted Oct 17 2013 10:07am

by Scott Kashman

When asked about the ROI (return on investment) for intentionally creating an optimal healing environment, I say it comes down to the impact on employee engagement. Year over year our organization realized an improvement in all 32 measured employee engagement categories--statistically significant results.

Those results don't include the pride and ownership people sense when you walk around our place. This does not mean every day is perfect. It does mean that even on the rougher days you know you can count on your team--employees, physicians, volunteers and auxiliary. We even have a patient and family council that contributes to our efforts.

It's an environment where you "crowd out" the people who do not want to be a part of making things better, or the ones not aiming to make the environment more healing for patients, families and their colleagues.

What's the special sauce to make this work?

Explore how you and your team intentionally look at the following three areas that contribute towards a healing environment and clear vision. How do you show and represent this vision? Do you use visuals?

Did you ever move into a condo or home with a friend or loved one and start drawing what it can be? That's creating the vision. As a person who has lived in his fair share of apartments, condos and homes, Jenny, my spouse, creates that vision each time. Then our family members become more engaged to share how we can get there and what factors contribute to making this a reality.

Put your vision on paper and show it:

1. Physical space: Make intentional changes to reflect the environment you want to represent. For our campus, we are designing an integrated wellness and therapy garden for patients, our community and educational purposes. We will enhance the healing garden outside our Women's Care - Birthing suites facility. A heart healthy pond trail will include exercise stations, a shaded tree line and shades over the stations.

Inside, we are making renovations over time and painting daily to keep the place looking better. You do not need a lot of money--although it would help to make things happen even faster! Don't forget to consider ways to involve the community in your efforts.

2. Programs: Look at how you integrate the medical, social and behavioral. Define what clinical and non-clinical programs you provide and which ones you need to provide to better serve your defined community. This could include your open heart program and your walking trails. Show how you are transforming the existing traditional model towards a future care model.

3. Leadership: Be proud of what you and your leadership stand for and represent. Too many leaders waffle over this. Ask yourself whether your healthcare organization serves as a role model for health. Should it? Do your products from medical services to the food to the physical environment to the people represent a healthy community? Should they?

If so, then talk about what you expect and represent as a leadership team and organization. Trust me, I get my fair share of heat over healthier choices in our cafeteria and enhanced physical environment. The same holds true for pushing all areas to reach for exceptional, and that is not easy. In fact, it can be exhausting.

But you cannot go at it alone. We are all part of a "team sport" so we need to help each other when one gets tired and support our tireless crusade to be exceptional.

Scott Kashman serves as the Chief Administrative Officer of Cape Coral Hospital, part of the Lee Memorial Health System in southwest Florida.

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