Bittersweet Announcement

Today, I announce my departure as CEO and President of HCA Northern Virginia and Reston Hospital Center.  I have accepted the CEO position at HCA’s Chippenham-Johnston Willis (CJW) Medical Center, a 758-bed hospital in Richmond, VA.  Through my two-year tenure, I have very much enjoyed my time at  Reston and appreciated the collaborative spirit amongst all employees and medical staff members.  This organization has so much to be proud of with regard to great people, exceptional quality outcomes and unparallel service to our patients.  It has been an honor to work alongside so many of you as we focused on expanding our services to the community.  The hospital is well positioned in the healthcare market solely because of the dedication and hard work that the employees and medical staff have shown for 25 years.  I look forward to watching Reston Hospital Center continue that dynamic growth from the central part of the state.  My last day will be Friday June 15, 2012.  Jane Raymond, COO, will serve as the Interim CEO while a national search is conducted for my replacement. Thank you for all the support so many of you have given me through my time at Reston Hospital Center. I wish you the best of luck.

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Are You Looking Forward to Welcoming Rail to the Dulles Corridor? If So Take Action.

For decades, Northern Virginia has been working to bring rail to the Dulles Corridor. The project is finally about to become a reality – but maybe only in part. The Silver Line will be a great asset for our employees, our visitors and our patients.

Phase I of the project opens in late 2013 bringing rail from Falls Church to Wiehle Avenue here in Reston.

Phase II takes Rail from Wiehle through Reston and Herndon, through the airport and out to Loudoun County with three stations and a possible opening date in 2016, but its fate is in the hands of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors who must vote to approve their portion of the funding needed to complete the project. The Loudoun Board is seriously considering not voting to approve their funding share which would seriously alter or kill the second phase of the project. We believe, along with thousands of others, that this would be a mistake.

Reston Hospital Center played a pivotal role in the future of the rail project by becoming one of the key signers of the required legal petition supporting the creation of a tax district to fund Phase II of the Rail to Dulles for Fairfax County.  As a tax paying health system, a landowner, and a large employer in the Dulles Corridor, we take seriously our role as a good corporate citizen and community leader. We were proud to sign on to help move this important transportation link forward for the future benefit of our employees, our patients, and the region’s residents.

As members of the Fairfax and Loudoun community, we are anxious to see the project clear the final hurdles and reach its full completion so that it can improve mobility, quality of life, and economic opportunities for our communities. We hope that the Board of Supervisors will support of Loudoun County’s continued participation in Phase II and we have told them that.  Now they could really benefit from hearing from you too.

Please consider adding your voice to the call for Rail to Loudoun.  I encourage you to visit www.loudounrailnow.com  to find out more about the project and to add your name to the petition.

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Healthcare Hits Close to the McManus Home

A scary situation occurred at my house this past weekend.  During a family cookout in our backyard my daughter, Georgia, came and told me something was wrong with her eight year old brother, Max.  My wife went to check on Max and he said he had a snap/ sugar pea pod stuck in his throat and couldn’t get it out.  He was breathing okay, but it was clear that the obstruction was still there.  After repeatedly trying to cough the pea out it seemed to be getting worse.  I quickly called Dr. Darren Lisse, one of our Emergency Room physicians, and he advised me to bring him to Reston Hospital Center’s ER.

From the moment Max arrived in our ER, the team of nurses and doctors were fantastic.  Dr. Peter Paganussi and Dr. Emily Lozano did their assessment and worked through options of how to best treat Max.  They were comforting and focused on the issue at hand.  I know the doctors and nurses are taught to be great clinicians, that is a learned skill and they are clearly people who did well in school and successful in the art and science of medicine.  But bedside manner is something that is fundamentally in your DNA, your personality.  It is innate, but it develops because you have been surrounded by family, friends and mentors that showed you how critical it is to make the human touch factor as important as clinical judgment.  The care team at Reston immediately brought a level of comfort to a situation that could have gone in a totally different direction.  After Max had x-rays it was determined that he likely aspirated the snap pea, meaning that it had dropped into his lung.  If there is a foreign body in the lung it has to be removed or else significant infection and pneumonia will follow.  Max had to be transferred to another hospital to be scoped by a pediatric surgeon, but by the next day the situation was resolved and it turned out his own body had kicked it out of his lung.  After getting discharged from the hospital all Max could think about was how hungry he was and how much he wanted to see the movie The Avengers on opening weekend.  I offered him a snap pea sandwich which made him laugh as he politely declined and we spent the afternoon together, father and son watching a great action movie.  At the end of the day, the experience reminded me how fortunate we all are to have so many great doctors and staff at Reston.  I am thankful for all that they did to manage my family crisis.

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Running for Hope

Holly Norris, Reston Hospital Center’s EVS Director, is one of those people who is consistently the first to volunteer for every cause that serves those in need.  This week was no different.  She ran a marathon in Nashville to raise money for HCA’s Hope Fund which helps HCA employees and their immediate families who are affected by financial hardship. This includes disaster, extended illness/injury, domestic violence, death of a loved one, and other special situations.  I asked Holly to share a few thoughts from her experience.

“This was my 28th marathon, and I still get excited about all the people, the race, and can’t sleep the night before. It’s inspiring to know so many people train, raise money, and come together for such a great cause. I also feel blessed to work for a company that unites to help its employees. I didn’t run one mile without seeing a Team HCA shirt. 

I felt like I was doing fine, even though my lower back was killing me from about mile 5. Then at mile 14 John Steele (HCA’s Sr. VP of Human Resources) started running beside me. I remembered him saying that he doesn’t train for the marathon, he just runs it. I started to think maybe I was in trouble. That’s when I slowed down and took two Tylenol I had stuffed in my pocket. They didn’t help. Besides lower back which I suffer from now and then, I was fine. No muscle pains or blisters, so I can’t complain.

I headed to Nashville with 35,000+ strangers and left feeling connected with them all. I met a lot of wonderful folks and reunited with many familiar faces from previous years.   At the end of the day we did it. Already this year the Hope Fund has given out over $ 400,000 to assist fellow employees. “

You can learn more about the Hope fund by visiting www. hcahopefund.com .
I encourage you to consider giving as it really makes a difference.   Congratulations to Holly Norris … for always inspiring us to make a difference.

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Recognizing the Founding Employees of Reston Hospital – Spotlight Jim Sweeris

As we celebrate our 25th year at Reston Hospital Center I thought it would be interesting to periodically interview some of the employees who have been here since the beginning.  My first Founder interview:  Jim Sweeris, Director of Plant Operations and Security.

Tim: What are you most proud of doing at Reston Hospital?
Jim
: I am very proud of taking care of the hospital.  People don’t realize that in a lot of ways, it is like taking care of a ship.  If our plant doesn’t work no one can do their job and take care of our patients.  I don’t do direct healthcare, but it can only be done with my team doing a good job.  For a complex organization, we have an exceptional history for very little downtime.


Tim : What made you stay at Reston Hospital for 25 years?
Jim:  In my line of work you need to be financially supported to make the operation work. Reston Hospital Center and HCA have always done that for our team.  We are better outfitted than most hospitals and have better technologies to stay operational.  Companies who don’t support their plant/ infrastructure aren’t good places to work for a guy like me. We are also always growing. The longest we have ever gone without a big construction project was 13 months.  We never stop building. We take pride in always taking care of the building.   It also makes a difference that I have been lucky to work with good people through my 25 years.

Tim: What are you most excited about in the next 25 years of Reston Hospital?
Jim:
I am excited to see how the building of a new hospital (StoneSpring Medical Center in Loudoun County) pairs with Reston Hospital Center.  We are in a great growth area with the International Airport and have been fortunate enough to have been somewhat protected from the recession.  We fill a niche at Reston Hospital, we are not so small that we can’t do sophisticated healthcare, but we aren’t so big where it is impersonal.

Tim: What is your favorite Memory at Reston Hospital?
Jim:
Meeting Dr. Thomas Frist Sr. (the founder of HCA).  He came to Reston Hospital when we first opened up. It meant a lot to my department that he left the whole group of VIPs and came to the powerhouse on his own and shook hands with all the engineers.  He wanted to make sure we knew that he knew the boiler room was essential.  His opinion was if the powerhouse wasn’t clean, the hospital wasn’t clean.

Tim: You drive a long way to and from work every day and have for 25 years. What made you continue to do that versus getting a job closer to home?
Jim:
I like where I work and I like where I live (West Virginia).  You wouldn’t want me as a neighbor because I collect junk cars in the yard.  It is a great place to work so the long drive is worth it.

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Building Confidence

This week, I have been thinking a lot about what a patient must think about while lying in one of our beds, often for hours or days. I have no doubt that most patients have a lot of anxiety about their medical condition wondering if it is getting better, if it will fully resolve, if it will impact their lives or if it will impact the lives of their loved ones. It is clear that as a team of caregivers, all of us have the ability to positively impact the mental state of our patient to encourage them through the healing process. Along these lines, I recently heard Tom Morris, a Professor and author from Notre Dame, speak about the impact we can make on others by the attitude we bring to our work. He talked about the importance of having two kinds of confidence: Initial confidence and resilient confidence. That takes me back to our anxious patient in the bed. When they sense our care team has initial confidence about their roles and their tasks, it puts them at ease and prepares them for the next step. We can minimize the stress they feel about the IV getting started, the drugs being given, the clinical assessments, the blood draws, the collaboration on clinical care plans because they sense our staff are comfortable with their own skills. When our patients feel they are in the hands of both clinically skilled and patient-focused caregivers it changes everything. Statistics show patients get well faster and then share their positive story many times after they are discharged. As time passes and the hours at Reston Hospital Center turn into days, it is our resilient confidence that carries the patients mentally and clinically to the good health and discharge. The repetition of clinical and service excellence shows that as a team we are resilient through the challenges of managing the often unpredictable changes in our patients’ health. We have shown tremendous resilience through emergency situations and crises moments and been a part of improving so many lives in our community. Through your extensive training, education, repetition of skills, and a mindfulness of the importance of your work, confidence grows from the initial confidence to resilient confidence.

I am proud of your work. This week, I received many letters from past patients sharing their stories about hope and healing at your hands. Each of you in some way shaped their experience. I’d appreciate any insight or thoughts you have on either your own or a co-worker’s confidence.

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A Thankful Patient Wonders, Are You Having Fun?

Below is a guest blog post from Scott, one of our patients…

As an advertising Creative Director who’s been in the business for close to 20 years, I thought I understood and knew incredibly stressful work. But I had never thought about whether or not it applied to other professions until Saturday, September 15, 2011, when I was rushed to Reston Hospital Center suffering heart arrhythmia and ventricular tachycardia.

After many uneasy hours stabilizing me – at roughly 7:00 a.m., a doctor I had never met informed me that I had a rare disease called Sarcoidosis, which was affecting my lungs  and heart, and that there was a chance I would need a heart transplant.

My first thought was of my family and the sadness of not being there for them. My second thought was about all the doctors and nurses who had been attending to me throughout the somewhat unsettling night.

Since that day in 2011, a lot has happened. I have received an ICD (implanted cardiovascular device). Basically an internal version of the paddles you always see on television when someone flat lines: CLEAR. That device soon thereafter went off two consecutive nights, saving my life. And soon after that I underwent an ablation surgery to burn through some of the scar tissue in my heart to stop the v-tach … and hopefully any future shocks.

(An aside. Having a defibrillator go off is akin to having a horse with electrified shoes kick you in your chest. I played both football and rugby in college, and this made those 250 pound linebackers feel like masseuses.)

During all the truly critical months, I put my trust and my life in many strangers’ hands. When you’re in the shape I was, you don’t have the luxury of choices and second or third opinions. You generally are visited by swarms of doctors who agree on what needs to be done immediately, and, if you’re lucky a priest, rabbi or chaplain. After visiting with me, I could see why the three might walk into a bar.

But the amazing thing about this time in my life was that I kept asking myself the same question: are these doctors and nurses having fun? I have but one life to live, but on any given night they’re seeing dozens of people and actually saving dozens of lives. Or treating the elderly. Or fixing broken bones. Or calming shaken nerves. Or delivering tough news to loved ones.

They’re also dealing with friendly people, unfriendly people, young and old, rich and poor. And some who simply cannot be defined. I saw and heard all of the aforementioned. And at times I wondered if I could remain compassionate.

For the most part I tried to ask smart questions and follow the advice of people who obviously studied far harder than I did in math and science class. But were they having fun? Or was this, like advertising, a stressful job that sometimes had rewards and sometimes had you wishing you lived high in the mountains away from all humanity?

So I started asking the doctors and nurses. And they were wonderfully honest. Turns out, just like any job, there are good days and there are bad. Doctors and nurses are just like lawyers and truck drivers and teachers … even Creative Directors. There are days you feel like you’re on top of the world … and there are days you wish you could fake your own death.

But what struck me most – beyond the honesty and candor – was that, whether they were having a good day or a bad day, the doctors and nurses I was seen by at Reston hospital all agreed that good days or bad, the patient is what matters most.

When I was in pain, they took measures to relieve it. When I had questions, they answered them. When I was scared, they found ways to comfort me.

Since my ablation surgery I have not received any more “treatments” from my ICD. I am now able to jog up to three miles. I’ve been back at work for a little over 5 months. And I can actually joke about my condition, though it often makes others uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, due to the severity of my condition at the time, I don’t know the names of all the employees who helped me. And if my writing this article does anything whatsoever (and should the casual reader still be with me at this point), I hope at least some of those employees understand how much I appreciate their expertise, their compassion and their ability to forget about the traffic, the lack of sleep or whatever it was that got on their last nerve that day. Your ability to put my needs first, along with the woman to my left and the man across the hall, and that young, frightened child who was spending her first night away from her family, is nothing short of commendable.  

My clients come to me with problems to solve and opportunities to make money. The hours are sometimes long. The feedback is sometimes painful. But I’m still having fun.

But not a single day goes by when I don’t appreciate the efforts of everyone at Reston Hospital. What they do on a day-to-day basis isn’t just a job. And I truly appreciate that they can’t just write it off as a bad day. Or ever let their guard down and say it’s just a job.

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