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Melzer awards for leading change

Posted Sep 23 2010 7:20pm
At tonight's Annual Meeting, the BIDMC Board of Directors presented the ninth annual Robert M. Melzer Leadership Awards to three individuals who have been instrumental in “leading constructive, lasting and all-embracing change” at our medical center.

The Leadership Awards – named in recognition of Bob Melzer’s contributions here as former Chair of the Board and interim CEO in 2001 – are an opportunity for the board to celebrate a select few among our physicians, nurses, staff and lay volunteers. This year’s awardees are Elena Canacari, Joanne Pokaski and Paula Ivey Henry. These are the scripts of the presentations for each award.

At the end is a short video clip of the first two recipients' remarks. (I couldn't get the third because I was on stage.)

Elena Canacari, RN, CNOR, Director of Perioperative Services
Presented by Marsha Maurer, Senior Vice President, Patient Care Services, and Chief Nursing Officer

I could not be more pleased to be here announcing Elena Canacari, Director for Perioperative Services, as a winner of this year’s Melzer Leadership award. For those of you who don’t know Elena, let me describe the scope and importance of her work at BIDMC.

Elena has a long history at both the Beth Israel and Deaconess hospitals, and has been Director of Perioperative Services at BIDMC for the past seven years. Her scope of responsibility spans two campuses and includes 38 ORs, three post-anesthesia care units, preadmission testing, OR scheduling, central processing, and a business unit with a total of more than 500 FTEs. These are areas which see high volume, pose high risk, and include some of our most expensive capital facilities and equipment, and priority services.

Two years ago, our organization experienced a wrong site surgery. You are all aware of this event – it presented a great challenge for the organization. Elena was an ever steady guiding force after that event, ensuring that staff involved in the event were supported, and that not only the OR, but the entire organization learned from this event. She led substantial changes to what is now called our “Universal Protocol.” This included developing a standard “scripted” timeout, and implementing this new standard throughout Perioperative Services. Part of that work was making sure the entire team is engaged and pauses for a “moment of reverence” before the incision. The “Universal Protocol” has since been rolled out to every procedural area in the medical center.

Elena has also been the leader of ongoing weekly “safety huddles” among perioperative leaders, and coordinator of quarterly interdisciplinary safety grand rounds, routinely attended by as many as 400 perioperative services staff.

Elena’s colleagues are so impressed with her that they nominated her for, and she won, the OR Manager of the Year Award, 2009, from OR Manager Magazine. Here is what her colleagues said about her.

Dr. Mark Callery, Chief of General Surgery, described a leader who has “an innate sense of professionalism, team leadership, even-handedness, and equity at all times.”

Dr. Malcolm M. DeCamp, former Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery wrote: “I simply could not do my job without Elena’s advice, tutelage, expertise, wisdom, skill, sweat equity, and business savvy.” He describes Canacari as” the ‘glue’ that holds the entire surgical enterprise together.”

Nurse managers of the east and west ORs and perianesthesia areas agree that “Elena’s every word and action is grounded in integrity and trust. She offers strength and support during change with a clear focus and direction.”

In addition to her leadership in patient safety, Elena is also a seasoned and accomplished operations leader. She has inspired her team to produce record improvements in OR supply management, room turnover times, scheduling and OR utilization efficiencies, and employee safety and satisfaction.

Elena’s contributions at BIDMC are not the end of the story. She is a National Patient Safety Foundation Fellow – partnering with people across the country around safest practices. She is also an active member and leader in AORN affording our organization important opportunities to participate in national forums and leading change at the national level.

Yes, Elena is an outstanding leader and very deserving of this award. To sum it all up I need to tell a little story about this event. As it happens, this evening falls in the middle of what I knew to be Elena’s annual vacation, so it took a bit of scheming to get her here. In the course of this I was talking to her husband, Don. I could tell he was fretting a bit about pulling this off. He said to me, “Marsha, Elena is like steel.” I knew exactly what he meant. She has the strength, the durability, the solidity, the integrity, and the foundational importance of steel – and she has brought all of that to her role as a leader in perioperative services.


Joanne Pokaski, Director of Workforce Development
Presented by Lisa Zankman, Senior Vice President, Human Resources

Joanne has been at BID almost six years. In that time, she has developed quite a few programs that have had a profound effect on our workforce.

This started with the recognition that BIDMC had a need to fill positions for which there was a skill shortage in the workplace while many of our employees wanted to advance their careers, but were blocked by the lack of credentials and the inability to go to school while working full time. This seemed like an opportunity for a win/win for the medical center and its employees.

In the beginning, Joanne started nursing and surgical tech programs by collaborating with a community college to bring academic courses on site at BIDMC. BIDMC selected applicants from current employees and provided loans to pay for the classes and clinical practicums on site. If graduates worked for two years as a nurse or surg tech, the loans were "forgiven".

This model worked so well that other pipeline programs were created for medical lab technicians (a grant Joanne wrote for the Massachusetts Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund was awarded for $500,000), research administrators (now over 2/3 of current research administrators are graduates of this program) and patient care techs (the second class of 10 students is now completing their training).

In addition, the Boston Foundation granted BIDMC $500,000 to create an Employee Career Initiative which brings community college classes on site to prepare employees for college level work. In addition, there are academic and career counseling services for all employees.

In the past year, the Workforce Development Team has also added GED, ESOL and US citizenship classes.

These efforts have touched over 700 BIDMC employees and they have been done with a staff of only three people in addition to Joanne. This year, BIDMC was given the Gould Award from Associated Industries of Massachusetts -- a prestigious award only given to one company per year for their efforts in employee education and workforce development. This external recognition validates the achievements that have been made for BIDMC. Joanne's accomplishments will make an impact on BIDMC for years to come.


Paula Ivey Henry, PhD, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees and Chair of the Patient Care Assessment and Quality Committee
Presented by Paul Levy, President and CEO

One word consistently crops up when the subject is Paula Ivey Henry and that word is enthusiasm. Since joining the ranks of BIDMC’s volunteer leadership five years ago, Paula has greeted every task and assignment we’ve put to her with such characteristic fervor that anyone would be hard-pressed to resist the urge to help. It’s this infectious brand of enthusiasm that makes her such a motivating leader, as Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees and most especially as the Chair of the Patient Care Assessment and Quality Committee, one of whose goals, ironically, is to ensure that enthusiasm is the only thing we spread at the medical center.

The Patient Care Assessment and Quality Committee, or PCAC as it’s known in BIDMC circles, was designed to support the medical center’s aspirations for clinical quality and safety and is one of the hardest working lay leadership committees, with its members meeting monthly and often dealing with technically complex and emotionally fraught issues. Paula has embraced both PCAC’s mission and her role as its chair with fierce conviction, devoting hours well beyond the confines of scheduled meetings to stay abreast and informed about some of the most important topics on the Board’s agenda. Aside from the overriding “enthusiastic,” her colleagues call her “thoughtful,” “dedicated,” and “open” with “a burning desire to make ours a better institution.”

Because she has successfully encouraged – not with hard-sell persuasion but with passionate inspiration – her fellow lay leaders to participate in creative thinking and analysis, which has helped our clinical and administrative staff to achieve measurable results in the quality and safety arena – and because we know her work to meet our goal of eliminating preventable harm to patients has only just begun, we are so proud to present Paula Ivey Henry with the Melzer Leadership Award for Leading Constructive, Lasting, and All-Embracing Change.

Here's the video. If you can't see the video, click here .

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