Achieving a Culture of Trust

by Donna Sollenberger, EVP & CEO, Health System

Donna_Sollenberger I presented a “Culture of Trust” message at the President’s Strategic Executive Council meeting earlier this month, and during my presentation, it occurred to me that I should talk about the message in this week’s Friday Flash Report. As I hear more and more people talking about what it takes to have a Culture of Trust, I feel that we are making progress toward achieving it. Yet, I also wonder whether we all truly understand how our actions can affect our success toward this goal.

We have just finished that time of year when, as managers, we wrote and shared performance evaluations with employees and when, as employees, we received the evaluations. This can be a time-consuming process. However, one of the basic principles of a Culture of Trust is that each employee understands the goals and objectives that he or she is supposed to achieve in the coming year. After all, the better an employee understands his/her job, the better the whole organization will perform.

So, rather than dread the time when we conduct employee evaluations, we should look forward to it, because it is a chance to reflect on our accomplishments of the past year and to celebrate with our teams. It also gives us an opportunity to look at what we did not accomplish and to discuss why we may not have been successful, so we can address it. Most importantly, it allows us the chance to talk together—supervisor and employee—about what we need to accomplish in the coming year and how each employee can contribute to the organization’s success.

Here’s an example of a goal that we all share in the Health System this year: eliminating preventable complications by 2018 (including infections). One of the easiest ways we can achieve this is to wash or gel our hands each time we enter and exit a patient room or care area. Physicians, nurses, health professionals, patient care technicians and medical assistants all understand how they play a role in this because they deliver direct patient care, but how do individuals in roles such as maintenance, I.T. and environmental services impact infection control?

The answer is simple: anyone who enters a patient room or a patient care area can affect the patient’s outcome. We all can carry germs on our hands that we could potentially pass to a patient, whether or not we are directly delivering patient care. Therefore, everyone should wash or gel their hands every single time they enter a patient care area or room.

I have learned from experience that even though practicing proper hand hygiene every time sounds simple, it is not! I must always keep it at the top of my mind. I have the pleasure of visiting our patients in the inpatient units and the emergency department. I enter rooms. But the other day, as I was talking to a patient, I was mortified by the realization that I had walked into the room and had forgotten to gel in! We must all hold ourselves accountable for following this important initiative and we should all feel empowered to remind one another to practice proper hand hygiene when someone has forgotten. I wish someone had reminded me!

This week, I’d like you to think about your role. What can you do to prevent complications and infections? I would love to hear from you, particularly those of you who do not work in direct patient care areas. Send me your ideas to health.system@utmb.edu so I can share some of your thoughts on this in the future!

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