If you’ve not yet procured a copy of the November 2011 issue of The Joint Commission Perspectives, I would encourage you to do so. There is a very interesting article that focuses on a strategy for establishing more effective communication between the folks charged with managing the physical environment (that would be you) and hospital leadership. Now I think this is a pretty cool idea, but I couldn’t say with any degree of certainty how widespread a success it might be as there are a number of variables involved (and that’s not counting personalities). That said, it’s certainly a strategy worth pursuing, if it doesn’t pursue you first.
Without giving too much away, the goal of this strategy is to encourage a relaxed and non-confrontational exchange that can result in a clearer understanding of the current state of the facility and also maybe a glimpse into the mechanics of how leadership establishes priorities, particularly when it comes to supporting the infrastructure of the hospital. You folks know only too well the challenges of day-to-day maintenance of systems that are rapidly approaching antiquity, if they’ve not already crossed that line–wouldn’t it be grand to be able to informally discuss the inner workings of the plant?
It would seem that the sum and substance of the Perspectives article is aimed at encouraging your organization’s leaders to make the first step, so don’t be surprised if your CEO wants to stop by for a visit and see what’s going on. There’s an old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words; maybe this time we can make a picture worth tens of thousands of dollars and replace some of the aging equipment (especially the stuff you’ve been patching together for the last, oh, five, 10, 15 years–you know what I’m talking about).
The fact of the matter is I’ve noticed something of an increase in findings under the Leadership standards based on facility infrastructure elements that are not where they need to be. (I would refer you to the recent posting on temperature and humidity management of the surgical environment as an example of what can drive a Leadership finding.) As an Authority Having Jurisdiction, our friends from Chicago are in a position to make sure that the physical environment in our hospitals adequately supports patient care. I suppose you could say that this is a more diplomatic approach to promote improvement, but there is definitely a stick that goes with this particular carrot. Perhaps if you had a nice blue cheese dip to go with that carrot…