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Omen or Coincidence?

Posted Oct 03 2008 11:31am

My hospital is currently in the midst of a large expansion. We’re going from podunk community hospital to ginormous regional medical center. It’s quite the transition, and watching the construction up close is both fascinating and inspiring.

However, in the last several months both our Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) and CEO have resigned due to the tried and true cliche of “Accepting a better job somewhere else due to closeness of family and/or new opportunities AKA Cash money, bitches!”

It could be pure coincidence that two of our top administrators– two that have been here from day one, mind you– have elected to pack up and leave in the midst of our hospital’s biggest project to date.

Or it could be something much worse.

Even at stable hospitals, administrator turnover appears to be shockingly high. It’s like they’re all on some old fashioned preacher circuit where they rotate from facility to facility. However, at my hospital, we’ve not had a single administrative change in the many years I’ve worked here. Additionally, company wide (we are more than just my facility), the only real changes have been VP appointments to newly created positions.

Given that, the timing is suspect. Not only was our CNO coming off glowing JCAHO reviews for our facility he/she was in the midst of personally overseeing a prestigious nursing accreditation. While the CNO’s hanging out until the accreditation decision is made, their bags are literally already packed and the U-Haul’s been booked.

Our CEO was enjoying record company-wide patient satisfaction scores (press/ganey, too!) and has firm relationships with our community, serving on the board of several local philanthropic endeavors. His/her children were born and raised here, so the “relocating for the family’s sake” argument is hard to swallow.

What then, is going on?

Put on your tinfoil hats, people: this is all speculation based on hearsay. Rumor has it the straw that broke the camel’s back was our CEO’s apparent dismay at our company bringing in the two most dreaded words in any corporation: efficiency experts. Think “The Bobs” from Office Space, only not as funny and lacking in the pure awesome that is John C. McGinley.

Our hospital company has never been miserly: Our buildings look like hotels with rich attention to aesthetic detail and our patients aren’t nickled and dimed over every bar of soap or box of Kleenex (we even have real kleenex brand!) used.  Our unofficial way of doing business was to create efficiency by delivering a quality service. It’s the Disney way, and it’s no mistake a former hospital executive turned Disney cast member wrote a book on the subject.

Efficiency experts are the antithesis of this method and taken to the logical conclusions deliver a stripped down “efficiency-by-fiat” experience reminiscent of McDonald’s at best or (more likely) Comcast, A&TT, and company at worst.

Perhaps my company overstretched its pocketbook with the numerous high-dollar capital projects underway in our area and is now looking to cut acceptable corners. Maybe the powers that be expected our facility to be a McHospital and the resulting friction between this and our administration burned both the CEO and CNO out.

We’ll find out shortly: The person stepping in as a temporary CEO appears to be a corporate VP who will toe the party line.

The question is: will my facility and its staff go along for the ride?

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