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First-ever Patient Experience Expo a success; save the date for 2018!

June 23rd, 2017

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On Wednesday, hundreds of faculty, staff, patients and family members lined up outside the University Hospital dining rooms to learn about improving the patient experience at Michigan Medicine.

At the first-ever Patient Experience Expo — sponsored by the Office of Patient Experience — units and departments had the chance to show how they support patients and families through the work they perform every day.

One such department was Spiritual Care, which brought along the Michigan Medicine therapy dog Anna to interact with individuals at the expo.

“It’s important for our faculty and staff members to learn about the services Spiritual Care provides, including our therapy dog program and the fact that we have chaplains on call 24/7,” said Lindsay Bona, manager of the department.

“Having a forum like this to inform faculty, staff and patients about our services will make it easier for us to play a role in improving our patients’ spiritual health while they are here at the hospital.”

The Guest Assistance Program also had a booth at the expo to showcase how they help meet the non-medical needs of patients and families.

“This event is an opportunity for people to see the incredible programs so many of our departments have to offer,” said Katie Schneider, supervisor of the Guest Assistance Program, which can assist with lodging, parking, discharge planning and emergency financial assistance.

“Hopefully, if people learn about the programs here at the expo, it will trigger them to offer these services to patients whenever somebody needs it.”

Faculty and staff members agreed that the expo provided valuable information and resources.

“To see all these departments come together in one place, it gives you a great perspective on how many services Michigan Medicine provides,” said Brittany Nix, a member of the Lift Team, who provides assistance to ensure safe patient transfers and repositioning.  “Employees aren’t exposed to every department on a daily basis so getting to know them in a setting like this will allow all of us to do our job better and help our patients in more meaningful ways.”

Molly White, manager of adult services for Patient and Family Centered Care and administrative director of the Office of Patient Experience, said the immediate feedback from the event was extremely positive.

“Attendees remarked at how helpful it was to learn more about departments like Patient Transport and Environmental Services,” White said. “These programs are vitally important to the overall patient experience and the staff on these teams make incredible personal connections with our patients and families each and every day.”

Next year’s event plans to be even bigger and better!

The second annual Patient Experience Expo is scheduled for April 24, 2018 in the Towsley Triangle.

More information will be provided at a later date.

A helping hand: OPE gives faculty, staff the tools to succeed

June 22nd, 2017

Lemar Thomas joined Michigan Medicine in 2010. He now works for the Office of Patient Experience.

Employees in the Office of Patient Experience (OPE) have one clear goal that they strive for each day: To help faculty and staff provide the ideal experience for patients and families the first time, every time.

“There is plenty of evidence that an excellent health care experience has a powerful impact on patient outcomes,” said Lemar Thomas, a performance consultant with OPE.

Thomas and his team collaborate with employees across the organization every day to give them the tools they need to improve how patients and families are treated during their visits to Michigan Medicine.

“When we put our faculty and staff in a better position to succeed, we put our patients in a better position to succeed,” Thomas said.

To achieve that, OPE collaborates with clinical and service departments across Michigan Medicine to provide training sessions, leadership coaching, consultation services and program planning for all areas of the organization.

For example, Thomas and his team recently worked with a call center because employees were struggling with having difficult conversations with patients and family members.

“We observed a number of conversations and worked with department leaders to develop scripts and language that would help foster a feeling of mutual respect between the employees and patients,” Thomas said. “If there are gaps that your department has identified in how patients are treated, we can help to address them in a fully collaborative process.”

Staff members then committed themselves to learning that language — and, as a result, the department began seeing higher patient satisfaction scores.

“Our work was beneficial, but it wouldn’t be nearly as effective if our faculty and staff were unwilling to take the tips and resources and execute them,” Thomas said.

For Thomas, who grew up in Ann Arbor regularly volunteering with a number of community organizations, giving back has always been a priority.

After an early career in hospitality, he joined Michigan Medicine in 2010 as a member of the Service Excellence department, a team that is now part of OPE. The role allows him to meld what has always been a personal passion — helping others in need — with his professional career aspirations.

“When I stop and think about the work me and my teammates do, we are truly impacting people’s lives. That’s a remarkable feeling,” he said. “People want help, whether it’s the staff member down the hall or the patient who needs compassion and care. The work I do — and our entire team does — is designed to help both of them.”

U-M faculty launch research workshop for Kenyan partners

June 21st, 2017

Attendees of the two-day workshop in Kenya that focused on teaching basic clinical research skills.

More than 100 doctors and other health care leaders in Kenya got a crash course in clinical research courtesy of some committed partners at U-M.

Faculty from the U-M Medical School and the College of Pharmacy, in collaboration with the Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research (MICHR), in February hosted a first-of-its-kind research training conference that drew health researchers and leaders from across Kenya. The two-day workshop focused on clinical research processes, from study design to results analysis and more.

“Our course was really a culmination of 10 years of needs assessment,” said Dan Clauw, M.D., professor of internal medicine and a senior associate director of MICHR. “Over the years, different universities we’ve worked with in Kenya have expressed a desire to do clinical research, but really there are very few people in Kenya who’ve been appropriately trained to conduct clinical research. There aren’t training programs available.”

Clauw was a primary organizer along with Professor of Pharmacy Vicki Ellingrod, Pharm.D., and Associate Professor of Internal Medicine Elizabeth Jackson, M.D., MPH.

Faculty members from the medical, pharmacy, dentistry and engineering colleges have been working for a decade on cross-disciplinary programs to improve health care and overall community health in and around Meru, in central Kenya. But the recent workshop marked a significant milestone for the collaboration, extending the reach and potential impact well beyond Meru.

The event was organized with partners at Meru University of Science and Technology and nearby Consolata Hospital Nkubu, but it attracted more than 110 participants from a dozen universities, health centers and government offices around the country.

Adapted primarily from MICHR courses for U-M students and lab staffers, the workshop focused on identifying clinical questions, writing aims and hypotheses, and crafting grant proposals, as well as good clinical practice regulations for studies — the kind of research skills that can significantly improve care in resource-scarce settings.

“It was really clinical research 101, highlighting point-of-care research skills that are essential for providers in developing communities,” said Clauw. “If you don’t understand basic research principles, it’s hard to truly understand the health challenges facing the community you’re charged with caring for.”

The workshop was well received and another even larger event is already in the works for 2018. Organizers plan to expand next year from two to three days and offer multiple tracks, allowing returning attendees to build on their skills while continuing to welcome new participants.

“The attendees were so enthused. We think that it will grow fairly rapidly through word of mouth as people encourage more of their colleagues to attend,” Clauw said. “We’re excited about the future of the program in Kenya and potentially beyond. We think this model could be recreated by another group of faculty looking to do something elsewhere with a strong local partner with similar needs.”

Providing food security: Celebrating a one-of-its-kind food pantry in Ypsilanti

June 20th, 2017

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Keeping their blood pressure in check or managing blood sugar levels — these are just two challenges patients face if they don’t have access to healthy food and quality produce.

And when the faculty and staff at the Ypsilanti Health Center (YHC) noticed a large number of their patients struggling in these areas, they sprang into action to find a solution.

Last month — after more than a year of research, planning and hard work — YHC opened Maggie’s Marketplace, a first-of-its-kind food pantry serving Michigan Medicine patients.

“If a person doesn’t have ready access to produce and other food, it can affect their health in a myriad of ways,” said Maggie A. Riley, M.D., assistant professor and medical director of the YHC. “By providing healthy food and recipes, we aim to improve the physical and mental health of our patients.”

‘This is something we have to address’

When Riley became the medical director of the YHC, she found a troubling trend among her patients.

“Patients would mention how difficult it is to focus on their medical issues when they don’t have enough to eat or enough to feed their children,” Riley said.

So she and her staff conducted a food insecurity survey of their patients, finding that 41.7 percent of YHC patients were concerned that food would run out before they could afford to buy more.

“That’s when we decided that this is something we have to address with an on-site resource,” Riley said.

She partnered with a group of invested pre-clinical U-M medical students from the Global Health and Disparities Path of Excellence, who helped research what it takes to have an onsite food pantry and initiated meetings with Food Gatherers as a community partner.

Riley and Ladele Cochran, administrative manager of YHC, worked to develop a budget and secure funding. Finally, a multi-disciplinary committee of YHC staff members identified and readied a physical space within the health center to house the pantry and created workflows on how patients could access the food.

And with that, Maggie’s Marketplace was born — with staff surprising Riley as the namesake for the first food pantry offered by a Michigan Medicine health center.

“Everyone worked so hard,” said Cochran. “And we couldn’t have done it without our partnership with Food Gatherers to learn about displaying healthy foods, proper storage, and refrigeration — things we hadn’t necessarily thought of at the beginning of the project.”

The pantry received two grants from within the organization to help it get off the ground, one from the Mott Administrative Fund and one from the Friends Gift Shop. Food Gatherers also provided a Healthy Pantry Grant to help with shelving, basket displays and refrigeration.

“It all came together because everyone in the organization and surrounding community helped make it come together,” Cochran said. “It was truly inspiring.”

An overwhelming response

On May 1, Maggie’s Marketplace opened its doors — and its impact on the community was felt immediately.

“A patient walked in with her 15-year-old daughter and shared that they had no food or money to feed their family,” Cochran said. “She was in tears when we showed her what we had to offer. She was able to get enough food to last for a week.”

The marketplace is run by YHC staff and carries fresh fruit and vegetables, along with basic staples such as potatoes, milk, cheese and eggs. All the food is purchased from Food Gatherers and given for free to patients or community members.

During its first week, Maggie’s Marketplace gave away 70 bags of food to 50 patients and 165 family members with whom they share a home. That number grew to 707 patients and family members during the first month of operation.

Why has the facility been so popular? Cochran thinks much of it has to do with removing the stigma of food insecurity.

“Going to a doctor’s office is much more private and relaxed than going to a traditional food pantry,” Cochran said. “We’re breaking down barriers and making it easier for people to ask for the food they need, often directly from health care providers and nutritionists who help them manage their diet. It’s a win-win for everybody.”

If you’d like to support Maggie’s Marketplace, contact Ladele Cochran at 734-544-3202 or Food donations should be made directly to Food Gatherers.

Deadline approaching: Quality Month 2017 submissions due July 1

June 19th, 2017

Every day, faculty and staff at Michigan Medicine work hard to create and implement process improvements that elevate patient care and enable team members to do meaningful work.

These achievements will be celebrated during Quality Month 2017 — which will be highlighted by a two-day poster session in October. It’s the perfect opportunity to promote the quality improvements happening in your department and to share your best practices with colleagues at every level of the organization.

Teams that have successfully completed and implemented at least one “Plan-Do-Check-Adjust” (PDCA) cycle are strongly encouraged to submit a story to be shared during Quality Month. But hurry — the deadline for submissions is quickly approaching! All submissions are due by Saturday, July 1.

New this year, coaching is available for teams that have never before submitted a process improvement. If you would like consultation on how to properly design your story in the proper “A3” format, email chair of the Quality Month planning committee, Carol Barnett, at

Unlike in previous years, there is no theme for this year’s event. The poster session — which will be held Oct. 23 and 24 in the Towsley Lobby — will celebrate any quality improvement across the organization that enhances the patient experience.

Watch for more information in Headlines as October approaches!

For more on the application process and to find a template for applications, visit the Quality Month website.

Week in Review: Week of June 12, 2017

June 16th, 2017

TGIF — thank goodness it’s finally time for the Headlines Week in Review!

This week, employees were invited to MStaff200, the “party of the century” designed to celebrate 200 years of contributions from U-M staff members. Readers also learned the touching story of the Hartwells — and why the father-son pair is committed to helping patients; Bishr Omary, M.D., Ph.D. outlined his vision for the future of the Michigan Medicine research enterprise; and faculty and staff learned a tip to help patients and families who face a cancer diagnosis.

Check it out:

You’re invited to the party of the century!

From live entertainment to gifts, giveaways and even a staff talent show, MStaff200 will be jam-packed with fun for the whole family! Click here for details of the festive event, which is open to all Michigan Medicine faculty and staff and their immediate family members.

Dad’s devotion: Meet the Hartwells, a tightknit Michigan Medicine family

Like most U-M med students, Matt Hartwell focused on getting good grades and learning as much as he could in the classroom and clinic. Yet he was always keenly aware of something he considered even more important: the comfort of patients and families. Credit that to his dad, Mike Hartwell, who works in the Michigan Medicine Office of Development. Learn the Hartwells’ story and the personal connection that makes them committed to improving the patient experience.

Building partnerships: Q&A with Bishr Omary, M.D., Ph.D.

Bishr Omary, M.D., Ph.D. began his new role as the university’s chief scientific officer and vice dean for research last month. Recently, Headlines caught up with Omary to discuss his new role and his vision for the future of the organization’s research enterprise. Click through to see what he had to say.

Service Spotlight — Cancer AnswerLine

Did you know that when a patient or loved one is diagnosed with cancer, there is a team of dedicated Michigan Medicine experts just a phone call away to answer questions and guide them through all stages of the treatment process? Find out more about the Cancer AnswerLine and how you can provide excellent service by recommending it to those you serve.

Plan to attend: First-ever Patient Experience Expo

June 16th, 2017

Join the Office of Patient Experience for the first-ever Patient Experience Expo!

The event will be held Wednesday, June 21 from noon until 2 p.m. in UH Cafeteria Dining Rooms C & D.

Learn how colleagues across the organization are improving the experience for Michigan Medicine’s patients and families — and what you can do to help.

Watch the video above for a special invite and click here for more information about the event!

Dad’s devotion: Meet the Hartwells, a tightknit Michigan Medicine family

June 15th, 2017

An older photo of the Hartwells. L-R: Lisa, Matt, Eric (front), Brian, Mike.

Like most medical students, Matt Hartwell spent his time at Michigan Medicine focused on getting good grades and learning as much as he could in the classroom and clinic. At the same time, he remained keenly aware of the things he considered even more important.

“While I would stress myself out worrying about exams and trying to impress my attending physicians, it was always on my mind to make sure patients and families were comfortable,” said Matt, who graduated from U-M last month and will soon begin his orthopaedic surgery residency at Northwestern.

Credit that to Mike Hartwell — Matt’s dad and Michigan Medicine’s associate director of development for children and women’s health.

“When I come to work every day, I am always thinking about the kids we serve,” Mike said. “I fundraise knowing that the dollars we raise will make their day just a little bit brighter and a little bit better.”

An unbreakable bond

The drive and desire the Hartwells have to improve the patient experience was born out of a personal connection.

Thirteen years ago, in 2004, Mike’s son and one of Matt’s little brothers, Eric, was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia.

Six months later, Eric passed away. The impact was felt on all members of the Hartwell family. Matt, only 15 at the time, decided he wanted to honor Eric’s legacy by pursuing a career in medicine.

Mike and his wife Lisa, meanwhile, founded the Eric Hartwell Foundation to help pediatric cancer patients at Mott. Mike also served as a family advisor on various committees at the hospital — and eventually accepted a full-time role in the Michigan Medicine Office of Development.

“Those months were incredibly difficult, but they also brought our family closer together,” Mike said. “For me, my wife, Matt and my youngest son, Brian, Eric’s memory is something we will always have in common. We feel like we all share an unbreakable bond.”

Finding the ‘aha moments’

Years later, as Matt worked his way through medical school, he and Mike would often meet up for lunch in the University Hospital cafeteria. Mike was always curious to find out what his son was learning and how much was sinking in.

“During every rotation, I would ask Matt if he had an ‘aha’ moment,” Mike said. “I wanted him to be on the lookout for things that would help him become a better — and more empathetic — doctor.”

The question became so prevalent that “It got to the point where I was trying to come up with ‘aha’ moments just to share with my dad,” Matt said with a chuckle.

But there certainly were eye-opening experiences, and Matt credits his dad with emphasizing how important they were. One such moment came during a research project he was working on regarding bone marrow transplants.

“I was looking at data that went back more than a decade,” Matt said. “And knowing that Eric had received a bone marrow transplant, it struck me that one of the pieces of data I was looking at represented him.

“Up until then, the data was just a number. Now, it’s clearer to me that every number — and every patient I see in the clinic — has a story and a family. That makes my interactions more meaningful and my work even more important.”

Staying close

Matt is in the process of moving to Chicago, but he and his dad said they will remain in almost constant communication.

“My wife and I have always made our kids a priority,” Mike said. “I learned that lesson from my dad. He was always there for me, supporting me. I’ve tried to do that for Matt and Brian.”

But there’s another reason to stay close — a reason that will make future Father’s Days just a little more special.

Matt and his wife announced on the day of his med school graduation that they are expecting their first child.

“That was quite a day,” Mike said with a smile. “I’m just so proud of Matt and the person he’s become. He’s going to be such a good dad.”

Matt, in turn, said he has had quite a father to learn from: “For us, it always has been and always will be family first. I have my dad to thank for that.”

You’re invited to the party of the century!

June 14th, 2017

As the U-M bicentennial festivities continue, one special event is designed to celebrate you!

MStaff200 will be held from 11:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 27 and will honor the contributions of faculty and staff members from all U-M campuses, including Michigan Medicine, Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint.

Don’t miss this chance to spend an hour, or your entire afternoon, with colleagues from across the university. Immediate family members are also invited to the event, which will extend from the Diag to Ingalls Mall.

There will be plenty for everyone to enjoy, including:

  • Staff-curated tent displays
  • Live entertainment
  • Free gifts and giveaways (be sure to bring your MCard!)
  • Refreshments
  • Food trucks
  • Staff talent and community service demonstrations

U-M President Mark Schlissel will kick off the event with remarks on the front steps of the Hatcher Graduate Library.

When the day is done, stick around for even more entertainment options, as the Ann Arbor Summer Festival will offer a free evening concert on Ingalls Mall in honor of the bicentennial.

Interested in playing a vital role in the day’s festivities? Staff members can volunteer to help set up, tear down — or do anything in between. Click here to see what volunteer opportunities are available. For more information on MStaff200, visit the event website.

The university hopes to see you at its party of the century!