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The BMC Brief

June 8, 2012 Volume 1, Issue 26

Town Hall Meeting Focuses on Patient Experience Work

On June 5, President and CEO Kate Walsh hosted Town Hall Meetings focused on the patient experience work underway at BMC.

Kate Walsh hosted the Town Hall Meetings

The meetings kicked off with a reading of a patient story. Paul is a cancer patient with mental illness who received exceptional care at BMC. An accompanying slideshow flashed the photos of the many BMC staff who touched the lives of Paul and his family, from direct caregivers to transporters to valet parking staff.

“As Jan (Paul’s sister) recounts, ‘It was more than just the doctors; it was whole team. People just stepped up with kindness,’” read Robyn Souza, Cancer Care Services, and Sheryl Katzanek, Patient Advocacy, who were involved Paul’s care. “Jan adds, ‘My brother has mental illness and he didn’t fit the medical model, but BMC found a way to take care of him. He is happy in his own way.’”

“Paul’s story encapsulates what we are talking about – a high-quality patient experience,” Walsh told the audience after the reading. “It is illustrative of our strategic goal to provide the right care for every patient, no less and no more. If Paul were your brother, this is the care you would want for him.”

Walsh explained that BMC is being measured on more than just safety and quality criteria; it is also being measured on patient perceptions of courtesy, wait times, staff collaboration, the hospital’s ability to handle complaints and concerns, and more.

“Our patients can vote with their feet,” said Walsh. “They are telling us what a quality patient experience means. While they can’t necessarily evaluate what happens under a CyberKnife machine, they do know if someone is pleasant to them or if an appointment is scheduled at a time that is convenient for them. They know if a transporter or nurse goes the extra mile to reduce a patient or family member’s anxiety. And they understand how well we work together.”

Walsh noted that BMC currently lags behind other Boston hospitals on its patient experience rankings. Medicare, Medicaid and other payers also are taking the patient experience scores into account in calculating reimbursements, so low scores directly affect BMC’s bottom line.

Rebecca Blair, Executive Director, Patient Experience, then reviewed the results of the recent survey sent to employees who received their care at BMC. More than 875 employees responded to it.

Rebecca Blair
Rebecca Blair, Executive Director, Patient Experience, spoke about work underway to improve the patient experience

“Overall, people said that the clinical care they received here was high quality, but that the system breaks down when it comes to the way they were treated,” said Blair.

As a result, four workgroups have been created to focus on critical elements that need enhancement:

  • Improving how the campus looks and feels
  • Creating patient/family centered care cultural attributes and behaviors
  • Aligning ancillary/ambulatory patient resources
  • Improving employee engagement and wellness

Examples of projects include a phased wayfinding plan that will increase and improve signage around the campus, implementing customer service training for staff, the standardization of patient information and education materials, and the creation of an environment that better supports employees’ work/life balance. Projects already implemented include an ambassador program that has volunteers escorting patients to their appointments, and a room-a-day program that has improved the aesthetics of 75 inpatient rooms.

“This is important, meaningful work that is going to make us better,” said Blair.

Audience members then gave feedback on what they are doing in their departments and units to improve the patient experience.

“Thank you for sharing all the wonderful ways you are contributing to the patient experience,” concluded Walsh. “To ‘be exceptional’ is a lofty goal, but you are helping us be just that.”

Visit the BMC intranet to watch the video of the Town Hall Meeting or make a suggestion.

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Dining Services Changes Result in Healthier Menu, Patio Seating

If you’ve visited the cafeterias in the Menino or Newton Pavilions recently, you may have noticed changes.

Salmon and steak
Seasoned salmon, steak and chicken are now grilled to order daily in the cafeterias

Both cafeterias now offer a new, healthier menu that includes seasoned salmon, steaks and chicken grilled to order daily. Sides include grilled vegetables and roasted potatoes. The salad bar has been enhanced to include more options, while the demonstration area offers “themed” foods such as southwestern meals or made-to-order tossed salads.

The cafeterias’ aesthetics also have been upgraded to include new cabinetry, display cases and equipment. The result is a warmer, brighter atmosphere, says Dave Maffeo, Senior Director, Support Services.

“Our goal was to create a more inviting environment that is enjoyable for our customers,” he says. “We are also pleased to partner with our food suppliers to offer a greater variety of local, sustainable fruits and veggies that benefit the health and wellbeing of our patients, visitors and staff.”

Maffeo notes that fried food offerings are still available upon customer request.

In addition, Facilities and Support Services has been hard at work preparing a new outdoor seating area for diners– the ground-floor courtyard between the Menino and Dowling buildings. The patio was recently power washed and soon will be furnished with tables, umbrellas and chairs to enable seating for more than 40 people. Beginning in late June, the courtyard will be open during lunch hours (11 a.m.-2 p.m.) throughout the summer to all patients, visitors and staff.

Tables and seating will soon be added to this courtyard

The opening of the outdoor seating area is part of BMC’s employee engagement efforts, says Maffeo.

“We wanted to give staff a place where they can take a break and enjoy a meal with their colleagues,” says Maffeo. “The courtyard is a perfect place to take in fresh air and sunshine.”

Improving customer services

Facilities and Support Services has been working on other initiatives to enhance the campus, including:

  • Work Order Request System
    Facilities and Support Services recently launched a new online system to track and monitor BMC work order requests. The system, called Service Request, is available under the “Start” menu on all BMC computers. Staff can use the system to submit requests for maintenance, painting, housekeeping, signage, office moves and new projects. Once a request has been submitted, the staffer will receive email updates on the progress and completion of each request, and is also able to look up the status of each request at any time. The system features a survey tool that gives requestors the ability to rate their experience and, in turn, allows Facilities and Support Service to improve its service efforts.

    “Service Request is the next step in our ongoing effort to improve our ability to better support our employees in providing exceptional care, without exception," says Biggio. "We rely on everybody to be our eyes and ears when it comes to identifying areas that are in need of repair or maintenance, and this new system should aid staff in helping us help them.”

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) facility improvements
    Facilities, in collaboration with the Boston Center for Independent Living, has been working on improving facility access for those with disabilities. Recent changes include the addition of handicap-accessible restrooms on Yawkey 2 and 3, and the elimination of oversize trucks at the Menino loading dock.

    “We found that large trucks were blocking the sidewalk, forcing people trying to get by into the street,” says Biggio. “To reduce the safety risk, we moved the large trucks to a night delivery schedule so it will minimize the impact on passersby.”

    The Boston Center for Independent Living is a non-profit group dedicated to promoting independence for those living with disabilities.

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What Do You Do, Cheri Leach Scott?

Name: Cheri Leach Scott, LSWA
Title: Social Worker Associate
Department: Case Management
Years at BMC: 15

Cheri Leach Scott, LSWA
Cheri Leach Scott, LSWA

What brought you to BMC?
At the time, I was working at the Metro West Center for Independent Living, a frontline civil rights organization led by people with disabilities. I worked as an advocate to eliminate discrimination, isolation and segregation in order to enhance the independence of persons with disabilities. Coming to BMC gave me the opportunity to bring the same ideals to the medical community.

What do you do here?
I am an interdisciplinary team member of the Comprehensive Care Program and the Child Protection Team, which provides primary care for children with complex medical needs. My role is to identify the connection between health issues and the patient’s social environment. Often, what perpetuates disease and illness is homelessness, lack of family support systems, poverty (including food insecurity), domestic and community violence, and limited educational and recreational resources. I work closely with doctors and nurses to address these difficulties and form the best treatment plan for the patient.

What is the most interesting thing about being a social worker?
I would say having the ability to work collaboratively with brilliant and compassionate people on a daily basis. Social workers strive to empower patients to maximize their independence so they can become contributing members of society. Our goal is to enhance the health and well-being of others, which is the part of the job I love.

What is unique about working in this role at a hospital?
Our patient population faces systemic and social societal barriers in addition to health problems, which make it vital for BMC to deliver patient-centered care. BMC is like a tree located in the heart of the city; its large branches spread across the community like wings and afford protection. The roots are deep and strong, representing the dedicated BMC staff who keep the hospital thriving.

What has been your most rewarding experience at BMC?
When families in crisis arrive here for reasons such as illness, violence and homelessness, we provide the support and intervention they need. This is extremely personally rewarding. Often patients and their families come back to visit and say thank you. When you see them thriving despite all the adversity they’ve faced, you know you’ve succeeded. I’m very proud to be part of the BMC community.

Do you know a staff member who should be profiled? Send your suggestions to communications@bmc.org.

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In Their Words

Patients share their BMC experience

Letter writing 

I was one of the many patients you saw April 16. I was running in the Boston Marathon and had to call it quits at mile 24. I went to the medical tent and ended up in Boston Medical Center’s Emergency Department.

From the ambulance transport to the moment I was discharged, I cannot say enough positive things about my experience with your department that day. Unfortunately, I can only remember one name: Becky. Becky was the nurse that took care of me during my six-plus hours in the ER that night. I ended up having sodium and magnesium pumped into me for some serious dehydration that occurred on race day.

I wanted to write Becky and all those who were on staff Marathon Monday night to send a big thanks. I was freaked out and my parents, who were also with me, were quite concerned, but Becky and the gang made us feel quite at ease throughout the whole process.

So, on behalf of my parents and myself, thanks again for being such warm souls. And thanks for the medical attention and treatment.

Cambridge, Mass.

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News of Note

Vinci named Interim Chief and Chair of Pediatrics
Robert Vinci, MD, has been named Interim Chief and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics, effective July 1. Currently Vice Chair, Vinci received his pediatric training at Boston City Hospital, joined the faculty in 1983 and was promoted to professor in 2001. He is Program Director of the Boston Combined Residency in Pediatrics, which he helped establish in 1996. He also is closely involved in fellowship training in Pediatric Emergency Medicine.

Kate Walsh at Schwartz Center
Walsh speaks at the Schwartz Center's celebration

Walsh honors Kimball, James at Celebration of Women in Healthcare
BMC President and CEO Kate Walsh served as the guest speaker at the Schwartz Center’s 10th annual Celebration of Women in Healthcare May 23. The event recognized the key role of women in advancing compassionate care in today’s changing healthcare environment. Walsh honored Pat Kimball, RN, Geriatric Home Care Program, and Thea James, MD, Director, Violence Intervention Advocacy Program (VIAP) and Emergency Medicine Physician. “These women personify the compassionate care that is the Schwartz Center’s mission,” said Walsh.

BMC at Boston Takes Steps for Crohn’s & Colitis
BMC at Boston Takes Steps for Crohn’s & Colitis

BMC Team Takes Steps
BMC staffers participated in Boston Takes Steps for Crohn’s & Colitis June 2. The 2-mile evening walk on Boston Common raised money for the New England Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, which supports research efforts and patient programs for those suffering from digestive diseases. BMC employees walked, staffed the information booth to supply information to patients, and raised funds. Staffers included Eileen Ardagna, RN, Alyson Shea, RN, Linda Alexander, RN, Hannah Miller, MD, Francis Farraye, MD, Ansu Noronha, MD, and Sharmeel Wasan, MD. Team BMC raised more than $2,600. This is their third year participating in the annual walk.

Bradford Towne joins BMC
Bradford Towne, DMD, has joined the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery at Boston Medical Center. Towne also joined Boston University School of Dental Medicine as Clinical Assistant Professor. Towne will practice in the outpatient clinical care clinic on Yawkey 5. Towne brings a wealth of experience in ambulatory anesthesia, dental implants, bone grafting, and dentoalveolar surgery to the hospital.

Bradford Towne, DMD
Bradford Towne, DMD

Towne is a graduate of Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. After graduating from dental school, he served three years in the United States Army. He completed his residency training in oral and maxillofacial surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina in 1983, and then practiced in Vermont until 2011. He is a Fellow of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and served on their Board of Trustees from 1997 through 2001. He is a Fellow of the American College of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and the American Dental Society of Anesthesiology. Towne is Board Certified by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and the National Dental Board of Anesthesiology.

Bill Bicknell, 1936-2012
William Bicknell, MD, MPH, an outspoken, inspirational professor of international health at Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) who sought to "make people hurt less," has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 75.

William Bicknell, MD, MPH
William Bicknell, MD, MPH

Bicknell, who died June 5 at his home in Marshfield, Mass., was the founder and chair emeritus of the Department of International Health at BUSPH and helped grow the department into a globally recognized leader. He held a dual appointment at BU School of Medicine as a professor and director of international health programs in the Department of Family Medicine.

Diagnosed in 2010 with metastatic lung cancer that eventually spread to his brain, Bicknell detailed his fight with methodical precision in blog updates and in a poignant final lecture. On May 2, Bicknell returned to the BU Medical Campus to deliver "Lessons Learned from a Life in Public Health," a no-holds-barred personal recap of his experiences furthering public health in 62 countries.

Read the complete obituary.

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Awards and Accolades

BMC has earned a national distinction for excellence in patient safety. The hospital was honored with an “A” Hospital Safety Score, the highest achievable grade, by the Leapfrog Group, an independent national nonprofit run by employers and other large purchasers of health benefits. The Leapfrog Group measured BMC, and more than 2,600 other U.S. hospitals, using publicly reported data on patient injuries, medical and medication errors, and infections. Leapfrog then assigned Hospital Safety Scores, ranging from A to F, to each hospital based on that data. Visit www.hospitalsafetyscore.org to see BMC’s scores.

Edward Feinberg, MD, MPH, a BMC ophthalmologist, and Megan Sandel, MD, MPH, a BMC pediatrician, both received Educator of the Year awards, presented by the Committee on Faculty Affairs at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM). The award recognizes BUSM faculty who provide excellence in teaching and mentoring.

Feinberg, Professor and Chair Emeritus, Ophthalmology, received the award in the clinical sciences category. He joined BUSM in 1999 as medical director for vitreoretinal surgery and was Chair and Chief of Ophthalmology at BMC for seven years.

Sandel, Associate Professor, Pediatrics, received the award in the preclinical sciences category. Sandel became a BUSM faculty member in 2002 and is a nationally recognized expert on children’s health.

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