Methodist Hospitals

  • Location: Gary, IN
  • Award: Evidence-Based Leadership Healthcare Organization of the Month
  • Awarded: January 2013

Rekindling the Fires of Excellence
In less than three years, Methodist Hospitals, through its partnership with the Studer Group, has revitalized its connections with the patients and communities it serves, rebuilt relationships with physicians and reclaimed the culture of excellence that had once defined it.

The Winds of Change
Methodist Hospitals has been leading the way to better health in Northwest Indiana for nearly 100 years. In the beginning, twenty physicians donated $100 each to provide the equipment necessary to operate the hospital that later became known as Methodist Hospitals. Today Methodist Hospitals serves more than 16,000 patients annually, has 565 physicians on staff and employees approximately 2000-people at its three campuses.

Once the premier health care provider in Northwest Indiana, Methodist Hospitals experienced nearly a decade of leadership changes and strategic missteps in the late 1990s through the mid-2000s. CEO Ian McFadden, who took the reins at Methodist in 2008, and his executive team engineered a stunning financial turnaround in just one year. But other effects of the long down-turn lingered, including an unsatisfactory patient experience, strained physician relationships and a dysfunctional culture. Methodist's leadership understood that efforts to improve the patient experience and repair relationships with physicians could not succeed without a major cultural shift. Rebuilding a culture of collaboration and excellence, in which employees reconnected to their passion and purpose, was the key challenge that Methodist hospitals faced.

Culture Sets the Foundation
Two key initiatives were implemented to achieve this culture change. These initiatives were championed by the CEO with the full support of the executive team. The first was the development and adoption of a detailed and robust set of behavioral standards called the Model of Care and Conduct. These standards were developed by a Reculturization Team designated by the CEO. Reporting directly to the CEO, the Reculturization Team developed standards outlining twelve key behaviors that all Methodist employees would be expected to adhere to. This effort involved every department and every employee and volunteer in the organization. Multiple mandatory training and review sessions, as well as role playing exercises were conducted over the course of more than a year. The Model of Care and Conduct is posted prominently around the campuses and on computer screen savers. The standards were made part of the employee performance management system and adherence to the standards became a major dimension on employee performance reviews. To underscore the importance of the effort, a position was created on the executive team: Executive Director of Guest Services.

The Patient is Key
The second initiative is focused on improving the patient experience. Nursing was the lead department involved in this effort, but a number of supporting departments, such as food service, environmental services, plant operations, patient transport and information technology played important roles. Nursing activities included implementation of hourly rounding in patient rooms, nurse manager rounding on patients, leader rounding on staff, bedside shift hand-offs and post discharge phone calls. Interdepartmental teamwork was emphasized. The supporting functions developed and implemented their own plans.

As with any significant change, there was resistance. For most employees, ongoing training and practice, along with appreciation for the positive results, helped to overcome resistance. However, the fact these standards are now part of performance evaluations meant that those unwilling or unable to meet the new standards were managed out of the organization.

Reaping the Benefits
Over the past two and one—half years, first year employee retention has improved, more physicians are admitting patients to Methodist Hospitals, patient experience has shown a marked improvement and financial performance has strengthened each year since 2009. Some recent markers of change:

  • Methodist Hospitals was voted Best Lake County Hospital by Readers of the Post-Tribune.
  • Methodist Hospitals was selected by the Greater Valparaiso Family YMCA for a multi-year relationship as its Healthcare Engagement Partner, after a six month search that included all of the major providers in the Northwest Indiana region.
  • Our Southlake Campus received a Press Ganey national award for best quarter to quarter improvement for a campus as a whole.
  • Our Northlake Campus has been awarded a Studer Group 2012 Excellence in Patient Care Award in the HCAHPS/Value Based Purchasing Category.
  • We received a bond rating upgrade from Fitch Ratings, one of the three major credit rating agencies.

Methodist Hospitals' journey to excellence is not over—there are still miles to go. But we are proud of our accomplishments and gratified to be the Studer Group's Health Care Organization of the Month.

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