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Culture: The Patient and Family Experience and Linking Every Job to the Mission

December 17, 2015


Author: Rhonda Larimore

As human resources professionals, we have a real impact on the quality of care provided every day in our hospitals. We talk a lot about “culture” but we need to remember that we create culture by identifying and reinforcing the behaviors, at every job, that link that job, to the mission. The result is the quality of the patient and family experience - at the most fragile and vulnerable moments of their lives.


I had a very personal reminder of this recently and am so grateful for the culture we’ve created at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC – a culture of clinical excellence and caring and compassion.

Below is an excerpt from an open letter I sent to our staff:

Today marks one year since Dylan had his heart surgery. It is so easy being at Children’s day after day and hearing all of the amazing stories of our doctors, our employees and the research we do to help children and their families. It is truly another thing to experience it first-hand.

There really is no way to express the gratitude I have to each of you and your teams. You saved Dylan’s life.

Thank you for finding his heart defect before it was too late.
Thank you for calming him and us before he went into surgery.
Thank you for keeping him alive during the surgery.
Thank you for keeping his pain to a minimum.
Thank you for helping him breathe when his lung started to collapse.

Thank you for giving him spaghetti every single day and for the housekeeper who played x-box with him.
Thank you to child life for the blankets – that he would never admit matter, but sleeps with them every night and gets mad if someone uses them.
Thank you for the transporters who came to visit him during his stay.

Thank you for the compassion you gave him and our family.
Thank you for checking on him just because he crossed your mind or recognizing him months later in the cafeteria when he was here for follow-ups.
Thank you for your patience over the past year for all of the moments where Mom needed her hand held and assured that every symptom he had was not his heart.

For every hurdle and sprint during track season and through every football practice and game – every run, every tackle, every fumble and interception – I silently said thank you. Thank you for giving him these opportunities and a bright and healthy future. I no longer look for the ambulance at the beginning of a football game – just in case. I no longer feel the obsession to introduce myself and tell the paramedic about #7 just in case. You treated me along with him.

I know he is fine – because of each of you and every employee that works on your teams. You and your teams have given him and our family a future that we didn’t even realize was in jeopardy.

And thank you for doing this, every day, for thousands of kids and families, just like us.
This sort of culture doesn’t happen by accident. It happens because Senior Leadership has a vision and a mission and a dedication to make it a reality. I remind the HR team, every day, that we have a responsibility to help build this culture – because it makes a difference for kids like Dylan and their families.

Rhonda photoOur guest blogger this week is Rhonda Larimore, Vice President, Human Resources and Support Services at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Rhonda focuses much of her time on developing a culture of patient and family-centered care. This week she shares her story of how that culture impacted her and her family.

Healthcare administrators and providers are tasked with finding ways to enhance the quality of care, improve the patient experience, and reduce costs - learn more in our Selection Strategies eBook. Follow the link below.

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Bryan Warren Bryan Warren is the President of J3 Personica, a consulting, assessment, training, and coaching firm, and a guest blogger for PSI. Bryan is an expert in progressive talent strategies, with a particular focus on leader and physician selection and development.