Gratitude Letter

Ms. Cirineo of SASC,

I underwent an outpatient surgical procedure at Sibley this past Wednesday afternoon. I write to offer my congratulations and thanks to the team that cared for me. They were all outstanding people and great representatives for what is obviously a top-notch quality program— from Ms. Edwards, who registered me, to Wendy, the nurse who took me through pre-op, to Dr. Miller and Ms. Miles, the anesthesia team, to Julianne and Crystal (I recall that there may have been a second nurse or scrub tech named Crystal, as well), the OR team, to Jill, the nurse who discharged me, and, of course, to my surgeon, Dr. Toomey.

Based on prior experience at Sibley, primarily two L4 – L5 disc operations in 2010, to expect professional, congenial, caring staff who prided themselves in excellence in patient care. I found those characteristics in everyone with whom I interacted. But it was also clear that much had changed for the good since 2010. I know from my own work on healthcare quality issues — I served for many years as a public representative on Medpac, The Joint Commission Board, the National Quality Forum Board, and similar organizations — how challenging quality improvement in healthcare is, how much pressure is placed on healthcare organizations to improve care, including patient experience/satisfaction, and how vitally important such work is. I was extremely impressed with what I saw and experienced at Sibley this week, from start to finish.

I was struck by the emphasis on patient safety throughout my short stay, e.g., compliance with hand hygiene, the protocols for identifying and confirming at every step the patient and the exact procedure, and the effective use of electronic record keeping, including an integrated system of bar code readers.

Most of all, I was struck by the high degree of competence, confidence, professionalism, collegiality, and focus on quality and safety of the staff. Some of that comes from the education and professional preparation. But the degree of excellence in those traits that I observed on Wednesday I know only comes from empowered people at every level of the organization working in effective and empowered teams. My observations were confirmed when, in the course of a thorough discharge process, Jill shared with me how staff are encouraged to raise issues and work in teams to identify and analyze areas of possible improvement and to suggest specific changes. If I understood her correctly, she had recently been involved in presenting some of this work to the Hospital Board.

All of this is a tribute to the staff and to the leadership of the hospital. The literature is quite clear, as I’m sure you know, that the courage to initiate change only exists when there is a supportive, nurturing environment created by an organization’s leadership. So my hat goes off to the executives at Sibley as well as to you and the direct care-givers.

I don’t imagine that many of your patients are familiar with CAHPS surveys, much less had the chance to work on them in their infancy, as I did. I don’t know your protocol for surveying surgical outpatients, but if you do use the Press Ganey or some other version of CAHPS, I hope I make the sample for this month!

Most of all, I want to send a big congratulations and thank you to the caregivers whom I met on Wednesday for a job well done and to all of you involved in Sibley’s quality improvement program. If I can ever be of assistance to you in your work, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Best regards,

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