My office in our hospital has two doors. One door leads to the inner office, including our receptionist area and our conference room. The second door leads to the entrance hallway of our hospital and has a sign posted on it. The sign reads "Please Use Other Door." That is not very welcoming.
The first door remains open most of the time, since I am proud of the fact that I have an open-door policy. However, it never occurred to me, until recently, that if I wanted to have a real open-door policy, I needed to keep the other door open.
I give credit to my staff at the hospital for the idea to keep this door open. During a recent staff meeting I was asked why I didn't keep my door open. When I said I did keep it open, I was surprised to hear the answer. "No. We mean the door that opens to the hallway."
I immediately thought, "why not?" I now keep that door open as often as possible and the results have been amazing.
There is a bit of risk involved because this is a heavily trafficked corridor in our hospital located between the front lobby and our cafeteria. I have become accustomed to seeing the masses head to the cafeteria for lunch every day and I enjoy seeing all of the smiling faces.
And I also have learned you never know who is going to pop in for a visit. One of my first visitors was a very proud employee who wanted to show me her new grandbaby!
In the weeks since I started keeping the door open, I have found many of our employees have never seen the insides of this mysterious office. One of my board members, an emergency department physician on staff, says he has heard the CEO office, in the past, referred to as the grey room.
Don't get me wrong. I still enjoy wandering the halls and talking to staff in their own departments. I have written often in the past about my CEO rounding and "Adopt a CEO" days , which I will continue to do. There is no substitute for CEO visibility in a hospital facility.
But I now have learned that opening up the CEO office to our volunteers, visitors and staff has made me much more accessible.
Raymond Hino, MPA, FACHE is interim CEO of California's Bear Valley Community Healthcare District, vice president of Healthcare Advisory Services, Inc and a board member of the Health Research & Education Trust. Previously, he served as CEO of Mendocino Coast District Hospital in Fort Bragg, California.