Issue: September/October 2012
Best Places to Work: Robinson Memorial Hospital
Life Lessons From ... Stephen Colecchi, president and CEO
Getting lost in a hospital is common. Having a hospital employee offer to walk you to your destination isn’t. Yet, that’s exactly the kind of high standards for employee conduct that Stephen Colecchi expects for Robinson Memorial Hospital. And why not? The president and CEO was born in the 142-bed community hospital in 1954 and has been at its helm for the past 18 years.
It’s not just a fun fact.
It’s meaningful because this is my hometown hospital.
There are folks
that work here that I went to grade school with, high school with, grew up with, even delivered newspapers to when I was a kid.
standards came into vogue in health care, I was a little skeptical. I said, “At the end of the day, patients go where their doctors tell them to go.”
But studies have clearly
established that an effective service-excellence program results in increased patient satisfaction and increased employee satisfaction. Those combined result in improved financial performance.
We want to create
that over-the-top experience that you would have at a five-star hotel like a Ritz-Carlton.
We didn’t hire a consultant.
We didn’t have administration sit down and write it.
We brought a group
of employees together, from white collar to blue collar, and said, “What standards are you willing to hold yourself accountable to? What standards are you willing to hold your coworker accountable to?”
Some employees don’t want
to make the decision on their own and are looking for guidance. Part of that is knowing your employees. The true empowerment is getting employees involved in meaningful things, like developing our standards of behavior.
When I was in school
at Kent State, Bill White [owner of Akron Lanes and Twin Star Lanes] gave me a job.
I worked the front desk,
did some general maintenance around the lanes.
I was always impressed with
how he interacted with his employees. It wasn’t just about work. He knew who I was dating. To this day, he asks about my kids. It’s making sure there is that personal connection with employees.
I do a lot of employee meetings.
I just had six employee meetings during lunch. It’s “Lunch with Steve.”
You need to listen to your employees
because they deal with these issues every day. They will have the solutions. They will have the best answers.
About once a week,
I tell the ladies out front that I’m going on a walkabout to review the physical appearance of the hospital.
Within about two or three minutes,
the director of engineering will track me down, because I’ll come back and say, “Why hasn’t that hole in the wall been fixed?”
[Former Portage County Municipal Judge] Donald Martell told me,
“Make sure you treat all of the clerks in the judge’s office with the highest respect. Become their friends, because they will be very helpful to you.”
fire fast. If you make the wrong decision, one person in a 20-person department can do some pretty significant damage to patient satisfaction scores.
I give them a scenario:
“Walk me through the encounter with a patient. How would you handle it?” I listen to whether they say, for instance, “Is there anything else I can do for you?” If they do that unscripted, then we know that the standards of behavior are part of their makeup.
I get more comments,
“Hey, so-and-so stopped me in the hallway and instead of saying turn left, turn right, they actually walked me there.”
During one of the snowstorms
last year, one of our engineering employees stayed over the end of his shift at 11:30 p.m. to clear the snow and ice from a dozen employees’ cars.
Take a deep breath
and think about what you are going to say before you say it. Reread the email before you hit the send button. Just take a time out.
Almost every scenario
has occurred somewhere else.
Establish that strong network
with peers to pick their brain. I talk to my colleagues [within the Summa Health System] and say, “We’re dealing with this, have you dealt with that?” In most instances, they have.
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