Hospital employees have great ideas! After one of our department heads attended a recent conference, she informed me that hospital CEOs in other places write articles for the local paper. Would our local media be interested? A couple quick inquiries and presto! You’ll be hearing from me about once a month on topics I hope will inform you about Newton Medical Center, YOUR community hospital. I look forward to chatting with you in this format. Please contact me at val.gleason@newtonmed.com if you have comments about the column.

Our employees take center stage in this inaugural article. But first, here are some general data about hospital employees. The Kansas Hospital Association just published its 2018 report entitled “The Economic Impact of Hospitals and Health Care in Kansas.” To paraphrase, the healthcare sector (which includes hospitals) is the fourth largest aggregate employer in the state. Kansas hospitals employ 86,324 people (4.4% percent of all job holders). Those jobs support the creation of an additional 75,659 jobs throughout Kansas.

Newton Medical Center (NMC) employs 648 full- and part-time employees at the hospital and clinic sites (in Newton, Valley Center, Park City, and Hesston) and 166 intermittent workers “as needed.” NMC likely creates an indirect economic impact of 600 additional Kansas jobs. Our total payroll injects $44.8 million annually into the local economy. Our staff are contributors to the community’s vitality through their earnings and their extensive volunteerism.

The number one reason I enjoy my job is the privilege of working with our impressive and committed NMC employees. NMC’s staff stand at the ready around-the-clock. When a hospital exists in a community, that workforce becomes an “expected” element of the local culture. The medical, clinical, and support staff needed for any occurrence, any time are just always there, always available, and always ready to spring into action for the community’s need. Sustained influenza outbreak? Check. Mass shootings? Check. Tornado response? Check. Heart attack on Christmas? Check. In labor? Check! NMC staff stand at the ready and they have been known to report to work en masse to care for the community during crisis. Have no doubts. Our staff are present and ready.

Health care workers are lifelong learners. Physicians, Therapists, Registered Nurses, Imaging and Laboratory Technologists and many others must submit evidence of approved continuing education hours at re-licensure time. In 2017, 21 NMC employees graduated from college or universities with degrees ranging from Associate to Doctoral. At this writing, 32 employees are enrolled in college – many on earned academic scholarships. Many other employees have attained additional professional certifications. Our staff are intellectually prepared.

When I made hospital rounds on Christmas Day many staff couldn’t stop to say hello because the hospital was pretty busy. Of those who could, I was deeply touched to learn many of our older staff volunteered to work so the younger parents could be home to watch their little ones open Santa’s gifts. Our staff are unselfish.

Each Friday I publish a “Shout Outs! and Silent Heroics” letter to honor our staff. It highlights some of the ways management and co-workers observe people going the extra mile – whether the employees realize they are being watched or not. I open a new document on my computer every Monday morning and collect these Shout Outs! until Friday evening. As I open each new and empty weekly letter I wonder what kind of surprises our employees have in store? They never fail to disappoint with what I call “doing Good and doing it well.” Our staff are ethical.

Whenever possible I talk to our staff about their stories. I want to know what motivates them to do hard hospital work day in and day out. Nearly always the answer is, “I want to help people and make a difference.” Our staff are principled, intentional, and caring.

I’m fortunate to work in the presence of their greatness.

 

— Vallerie Gleason is chief executive officer of Newton Medical Center. She can be reached at val.gleason@newtonmed.com.