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The BMC Brief

March 1, 2013 Volume 2, Issue 4

Employee Engagement, Patient Experience Efforts Focus of Town Hall Meeting

On Feb. 27, President and CEO Kate Walsh hosted Town Hall Meetings focused on BMC’s response to the results of the 2012 employee engagement survey and the hospital’s patient experience work for the year ahead.

Walsh noted that both are top priorities in the hospital's Be Exceptional strategic plan goal to Provide the Right Care for Every Patient.

President and CEO Kate Walsh

“Our engaged and committed staff are the foundation of the work we’re doing to provide a consistently exceptional experience for every single patient who walks through our doors,” she said.

In October, 73 percent of physicians and staff took the employee engagement survey, providing feedback on how BMC can continue to make progress on being a great place to work and receive care. The results showed several key areas for improvement, with one focus being more visibility and communication from senior leaders. In response, Walsh announced that senior leaders would undertake new efforts in the spring that include an intranet blog, frequent visits to work groups and units to hear feedback from staff, town hall meetings for night shift employees and rounding on floors during evening hours.

“We are working to better recognize the important contributions of our night shift staff. We’ll be doing more to reach out to them in their worksites and also want to make sure we extend hospital-wide celebrations into the evening hours,” said Walsh.

In an effort to provide the best tools and resources to staff, BMC is launching rapid-cycle improvement projects to make work processes function better across the organization. Project ideas will come from staff quarterly and those approved will receive team support and training. The goal, says Walsh, is to take successful project strategies and spread them across the organization.

“Our staff know how to improve things and what we need to do to get there,” said Walsh. “These projects will help us to work smarter, not harder and make improvements that can be distributed broadly across BMC.”

To support a healthy work/life balance, BMC is creating four work groups that will focus on specific staff population groups: nurses and physicians, facilities and support services, managers and directors and night shift staff.

“We need to take better care of ourselves so we can provide the best care to patients,” said Walsh. “These focus groups will come up with strategies to help us do that.”

Walsh also announced a new annual awards program that will honor employees’ exemplary performance. The Be Exceptional Awards will recognize 20 outstanding staffers who make significant contributions to the achievement of BMC’s QUEST goals and who exemplify the RESPECT behavioral attributes. All staff and physicians with one year of service are eligible for the awards and the nomination period opens March 4. Winners will be celebrated at an awards ceremony May 8.

“These awards will recognize and honor the contributions of our most exceptional staff members - the best of BMC,” said Walsh.

Walsh then reviewed the progress BMC made on its patient experience efforts in 2012 and the work ahead.

“Our patients have a choice of where to get care,” Walsh said. “These achievements show what we can do as an organization when we put our minds to it.”

The work includes:

  • Room-a-Day Program: The program takes two inpatient rooms out of commission each day of the week to “refresh” them, which can include painting the walls, waxing the floors and maintenance work on heating and cooling systems. The program has completed 124 rooms and is on schedule to complete all inpatient rooms by end of 2013.
  • New Wayfinding Signage: BMC has begun updating its wayfinding signage around the campus, with the goal of creating universal, easy-to-understand directional signage that helps patients and visitors navigate the hospital campus. New signs are currently being installed in the Menino, Moakley, Yawkey and Dowling buildings, with a completion date of March 15. Signage within other buildings around the campus will continue to be updated in the following months.
  • Customer Services Classes: One thousand BMCers participated in customer service training classes in 2012, and an additional 1,000 physicians and staff will take the course in 2013.
  • RESPECT: BMC refreshed its behavioral attributes for staff, called RESPECT, in February and will continue to focus on a culture of RESPECT to reflect BMC on its best day, every day.
  • Improve Employee Engagement and Wellness: BMC launched its wellness program website in 2012 that offers information on BMC programs and health and wellness resources. This year, efforts will focus on staff stress reduction and achieving a better work\life balance via focus group planning efforts.
  • Renovation and Expansion: Efforts are underway to improve the look and feel of the emergency department, with a renovation slated for completion in the fall. BMC will also open a new Outpatient Pharmacy in the Shapiro building in March.

At the conclusion of the presentation, Walsh asked staff for their ideas on how BMC can enhance the patient experience. Suggestions provided included walking lost patients to their appointments, speaking up when the RESPECT behavioral attributes are not being reflected among staff and working to enhance teamwork.

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Wayfinding at BMC: Navigating the Hospital Campus

Plan for Menino sign renovation.

In an ongoing effort to enhance the patient experience, BMC is updating the wayfinding signage around the campus. The goal is to create universal, easy-to-understand directional signage that helps patients and visitors navigate the hospital campus. New signs are being installed in the Menino, Moakley, Yawkey and Dowling buildings, which will be completed by mid-March; the next phase will include updating signage in the Newton Campus in the coming months.

“Visiting and navigating a hospital that has many buildings can be confusing and daunting,” says Nancy Hanright, Project Manager, Facilities Design and Construction. “Our goal is for every patient or visitor to get where they are going, on time, without stress or frustration.”

Hanright notes that staff involvement is key to helping patients and visitors find their BMC destinations. Here are a few tips on how you can help:

  • Familiarize yourself with the new signage in the Menino, Moakley, Yawkey and Dowling buildings. Any time you see a patient or visitor looking lost, stop and offer to help.
  • Need a new sign or an update to an existing one? Please do not hang paper signs. Instead, submit requests to Facilities via the Service Request system (located under the Start button on every BMC computer).
  • Remember, patients are not familiar with BMC building terminology. Make sure to use the correct location names when communicating with patients. For example, it is the Menino Pavilion, not HAC (an abbreviation for the Harrison Avenue Campus) and it is the Newton Pavilion, not NIF (an abbreviation for New Inpatient Facility).

“Working as a team to ensure our patients and visitors travel through our buildings seamlessly will not only improve the patient experience but also our image as a modern, state-of-the-art medical institution to receive care,” says Hanright.

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Heart Healthy Recipe: Southwest and Asian Turkey Burgers

According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. February is American Heart Health Month and now is a great time to improve your well-being. You can start by trying this delicious heart-healthy recipe from BMC Demonstration Kitchen Chef Tracey Burg.

This Southwest turkey or Asian turkey burger recipe is a low-fat option that tastes delicious. The recipe serves six, so it’s a great option for a healthy family dinner!

Southwest and Asian Turkey Burgers

  • 1 pound ground turkey, 93% lean
  • 2 Tbsp green pepper, minced
  • 2 Tbsp red pepper, minced
  • 2 Tbsp onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 egg whites (2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tsp cumin, ground
  • 1/4 tsp pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400°
  2. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients well. Shape into 8 patties
  3. To bake: spray sheet pan with vegetable spray, bake for 20 minutes or until well done in center. To grill: heat grill on medium-low, grill for about 7 minutes on each side or until well done in center.

Variation: Asian Turkey Burgers

Substitute 2 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce and 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce for the ketchup; substitute 2 Tbsp scallions for the onion; add 1 tsp minced garlic and 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced.

Nutritional Information for Southwest Turkey Burgers

  • Calories: 180
  • Total Fat: 7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2 g
  • Sodium: 199 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 12 g
  • Cholesterol: 60 mg
  • Dietary Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 16 g

Nutritional Information for Asian Turkey Burgers

  • Calories: 182
  • Total Fat: 6 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Sodium: 203 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 16 g
  • Cholesterol: 60 mg
  • Dietary Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 16 g

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Research Spotlight: Study Shows Alcohol Increases Preventable Cancer Risk

A study led by Timothy Naimi, MD, MPH, General Internal Medicine, and the Clinical Addiction Research and Education (CARE) unit, found that alcohol is a major contributor to cancer deaths and years of potential life lost. These findings show that reducing alcohol consumption is an important cancer prevention strategy, since alcohol is a known carcinogen even when consumed in small quantities.

“Alcohol is a big preventable cancer risk factor that has been hiding in plain sight,” says Naimi. He and colleagues found that alcohol resulted in approximately 20,000 cancer deaths annually, accounting for about 3.5 percent of all cancer deaths in the U.S.

The researchers also found that each alcohol-related cancer death accounted for an average of 18 years of potential life lost. Although higher levels of alcohol consumption led to a higher cancer risk, average consumption of 1.5 drinks per day or less accounted for 30 percent of all alcohol-attributable cancer deaths.

Previous studies consistently have shown that alcohol consumption is a significant risk factor for cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus and liver. More recent research has shown that alcohol also increases the risk of cancers of the colon, rectum and female breast. While estimates have shown that alcohol accounts for about four percent of all cancer-related deaths worldwide, there is a lack of literature focusing on cancer-related deaths in the U.S.

The CARE Unit at BMC/BUSM aims to bridge these gaps in knowledge by conducting research, educating health professionals, providing health care and informing clinical and public health practice and policy to improve the lives of people with unhealthy alcohol and other drug use.

“The relationship between alcohol and cancer is strong, but is not widely appreciated by the public and remains underemphasized even by physicians,” says Naimi. These findings will be published in the April 2013 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

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What do you do, Christian Kiriakos?

Name: Christian Kiriakos
Title: Director, Decedent Affairs
Department: Pathology
Years at BMC: 16

Christian Kiriakos

What is your background?
I was trained as a funeral director, and spent many years working at Boston-area funeral homes right out of college. In 1998, I started a business with a former colleague. We bought a fleet of hearses and contracted with local funeral homes to provide equipment and transportation services. The work made for odd hours, typically in the middle of night. While we provided a valuable service, it wasn’t really what I wanted to do. I wanted to do more to help those who were dealing with the loss of a loved one so when an opportunity to work at Boston City Hospital (now BMC) opened up, I went for it. The position was a perfect fit.

What services does the Decedent Affairs Office provide to patients?
The death of a loved one is often a life-altering experience for families. It’s our job in the Decedent Affairs Office to anticipate families’ needs, provide information and options about burial and how to move forward. When families know they have someone working with them who understands the ins and outs, it takes away a lot of the anxiety around the process.

Why is streamlining the process of dealing with the death of a loved one important for patient experience?

The idea of a deceased patient’s family being able to call one person and have that person guide them through the entire process—all with compassion—can’t really be measured. We understand what they’re going through and help them every step of the way through the funeral and the grieving process in a sensitive and empathetic way. That’s the true benefit of my office.

It really goes to the heart of the BMC mission and our efforts to serve our patient population, no matter their background. At BMC, we take care of everything from the birth of a child to the death of a grandparent, and we have to do it right because we are a pivotal institution in the Boston and Greater Boston communities. We share some of the most beautiful and the most tragic experiences throughout these families’ lives.

Our office gets a lot of letters from patient’s families thanking us for the work that we’ve done and the compassion that we’ve shown.

What do you like about working at BMC?
I find the different cultural traditions of our patient population and the diverse funeral traditions fascinating. Patients from different backgrounds require different levels of support and care, and you often don’t get that experience at other hospitals. It’s also extremely rewarding to help people through what may be one of the most difficult and challenging times of their lives. If I can walk away having helped a family come out stronger on the other side, then I know I’ve done my job. And I do that every day. That’s what keeps me here. You can tell when you’ve made a difference in someone’s life.

What do you like to do in your free time?
My son will be 10 in March and he helps me keep everything in perspective. He’s taken on my love of sports and I spend a lot of time watching him play basketball, soccer and lacrosse. I’m involved in our local community, too. I help run and coach a lacrosse program on the North Shore with more than 400 children. As a family, we like to travel and hike, and really just enjoy each other.

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 

To my doctors, nurses, CNAs, surgeons, endocrine team and the entire staff of assistants and students of 8West:

I would like to take the opportunity to personally and humbly thank each and every one of you for everything that you have all done for me over the course of the last few weeks. It’s been quite an ordeal for me, but through your kindness, compassion, skill and expertise, I never once felt alone in my struggle. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people or facility to care for me and that has made all the difference. There is no other place that I would recommend and no better medical center and staff than Boston Medical, particularly and especially 8West. In the short time I’ve been here, I feel closely connected to everyone I’ve gotten to know. That type of connection can only occur when the people are genuine and genuinely love what they do and are truly passionate. I can say from experience that 8West is truly passionate! I look forward to seeing you all in the upcoming weeks for my follow-up appointments and should I need to return, I will personally insist on staying in 8West only! After all we’ve been through, you just can’t get rid of me that easily!

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News of Note

WBZ Reporter Mary Blake

WBZ Reporter Chronicles BMC Experience
Mary Blake, a reporter for WBZ News Radio 1030, shares her experience being treated at BMC for a traumatic brain injury after falling off a bicycle while vacationing on Nantucket. The 10-part series chronicles her accident, treatment experience at BMC and journey to rehabilitation. Blake was treated by Trauma Surgeon Eric Mahoney, MD, and Chief of Neurosurgery Jim Holsapple, MD. Click here to view the series.

Elected Officials, Research Community Gather at BMC to Discuss NIH Funding Cuts
Boston elected officials and medical researchers held a meeting and press conference at BMC to discuss the importance of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and the threat of potential March 1 NIH budget cuts.. Mayor Thomas M. Menino, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Congressman Michael Capuano joined BMC President and CEO Kate Walsh, Karen Antman, MD, Provost of BU Medical Campus, and Dean, BU School of Medicine, and other key players involved in Massachusetts medical research to voice concern about the implications of the looming cuts for innovation and the economy. Boston has the led all cities in NIH funding for 17 straight years, and NIH funding supports roughly 24,000 jobs around the Commonwealth. In 2012, BMC’s scientists worked on 252 separate NIH research grants, with funding totaling $68 million.

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Awards and Accolades

Radiologist Wins Outstanding Paper Award at NEMB
Stephan Anderson, MD, Radiology, received the Outstanding Paper Award at the 2013 American Society of Mechanical Engineers Global Congress on Nano Engineering for Medicine and Biology (NEMB). The paper discussed using nanotechnology to develop new methods for diagnosing and treating diseases and was a collaboration between Dr. Anderson and Boston University’s Cross Disciplinary Training for Nanotechnology in Cancer lab. The 2013 ASME Global Congress focused on the integration of engineering, materials science and nanotechnology in addressing fundamental problems in biology and medicine, and in developing devices, materials and methods for the early detection, imaging of pathological and physiological mechanisms and treatment of disease.

Organ Bank Honors BMC with Award

BMC Receives Organ Donation Honor
BMC was honored recently with the Department of Health and Human Services Medal of Honor for Organ Donation. The medal is awarded to hospitals for achieving and sustaining national goals for donation, including a donation rate of 75 percent or more. There were 686 hospitals eligible for the award; 404, including BMC, met the donation rate goal.

Walsh named President-Elect, Podiatric Medical Society
Podiatrist Susan Walsh, DPM, has been named President-Elect of the Podiatric Medical Society (MPMS) for the 2012-2013 term. MPMS is the Commonwealth’s professional society for podiatric physicians and foot-specialist surgeons.

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