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Top Hospitals Recognized as ‘Best Places to Work’ in the U.S.


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By Linda Beattie, contributor 

Searching for a new workplace to call home? You might have to get on the waiting list for some of the hospitals that made Fortune Magazine’s 2009 list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For.” The 13 hospitals and health care systems named to this year’s list show that an extraordinary dedication to both patients and employees help make an organization great, and a place that nurses don’t want to leave.

What is the secret to keeping health care workers happy?

“It starts with a platform for how we hire and engage people in their work,” said Ann Scanlon McGinity, RN, Ph.D., chief nursing executive and senior vice president of operations for the Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, part of the Methodist Hospital System that ranked as the best health care organization on this year’s list.

Ann Scanlon McGinty
Ann Scanlon McGinity, RN, Ph.D., CNO for the Methodist Hospital, finds that high expectations and operating from your core values help create a great place to work.

“Seventeen years ago we crafted the ‘I Care’ values that set our vision and mission,” she explained. “Integrity, compassion, accountability, respect and excellence—these values are integrated into the culture, and they impact how you live, hire and treat other people. Every employee is held to those values and the employees who demonstrate them the most are recognized and celebrated.”

The Methodist Hospital System, which includes a teaching hospital, three community hospitals and a research institute, employs more than 11,000 people. Several hundred of them have taken part in the confidential surveys that have helped rank Methodist in Fortune’s top 10 for the third year in a row.

Already recognized as an ANCC Magnet hospital, Methodist offers nurses the chance to work in a shared governance environment, where they play an active role in leadership.

“Nurses at the bedside help us look at clinical practice, recruitment practices and outcome to the patient and address salient points on their unit,” said Scanlon McGinity. “They help decide where they want to improve and the people who do the work can pull in what is needed to achieve their goals.”

“Our nurses decided, for instance, to start hourly rounding, proactively checking on patients to see if they needed to be turned or helped to the bathroom. Trying to anticipate patient’s needs, we’ve seen dramatic drops in pressure ulcers and patient falls.”

“We also set a strategic plan for nurses around six key areas—leadership, education, practice, work environment, quality and innovation,” explained Scanlon McGinity. “Every year we evaluate their skills in these areas.”

“I also meet with every soul, even new grads, and I challenge them,” she said. “I let them know that we have a career path they can follow.”

This type of environment that offers autonomy and respect for its nurses has helped the hospital system achieve high satisfaction ratings year after year on employee surveys and in other regional and national recognition programs.

“It’s the values you live by,” said Scanlon McGinity. “We have high expectations, high standards, evaluations and follow through, including a rewards system and a system of accountability. These extremely high standards provide good outcomes for patients and employees, and create an environment where nurses want to work.” The proof? “This year Methodist had a waiting list of 250 new graduates—B.S.-prepared nurses with a 3.2 grade point average—waiting to come here,” said Scanlon McGinity.

Paul Patton
Paul Patton, Senior VP of Human Resources for OhioHealth, works to help 12,000 employees feel valued and able to perform at the highest level.

OhioHealth, the second highest-ranked health system on the “Best Companies to Work For” list, also strives to set high expectations and provide the programs that give their nurses and other employees the support they need. Based in Columbus, Ohio, this not-for-profit health care organization includes 17 hospitals, 23 health and surgery centers, home-health providers, medical equipment and health service suppliers throughout a 40-county area. From its extensive wellness program and free concierge service to family sports nights and shopping trips for tenured staff, OhioHealth knows how to treat employees well.

“We have a culture of celebrating customer service, longevity, perfect attendance and commitment, and we have a wide range of small and large celebrations,” explained Paul Patton, senior vice president of human resources for OhioHealth.

“The biggest reward is a shopping trip for those with 20 years of service, and in five year increments after that. We take employees to an upscale shopping mall with an envelope full of cash.” The day includes a full breakfast and a red-carpet lunch program where employees can bring their families.

This annual shopping day is no small undertaking. “Each year 500 to 650 associates are eligible for this reward,” explained Patton. “Last year we had a 55-year employee. Can you imagine? We are fortunate to have long-tenured staff, particularly in nursing.”

This is the third year in a row that OhioHealth has applied for and been ranked on Fortune’s best places to work list. The annual recognition program consists of two parts, with two-thirds of the scoring based on a confidential employee survey and the other one-third based on a culture audit of the organization. The process is designed to determine how well an organization is aligned with its employees.

“One reason we succeed is that we have a culture of engagement,” explained Patton. “In nursing we have shared governance and many of our facilities are designated as Magnet facilities. We use the strong communication process developed in that atmosphere in our decision making.”

OhioHealth also provides a number of perks that not only improve employee satisfaction, but also help the organization improve outcomes and cut down on absences.

“We offer subsidized on-site day care, tuition reimbursement and an array of benefits for pregnant employees,” said Patton. “We also put a tremendous focus on health and wellness through our OhioHealthy program.”

“This includes a consumer-driven health insurance plan with significant incentives for associates to stay well,” Patton continued. Among other things, the organization sponsors Weight Watchers at Work and encourages departmental challenges that make fitness fun. The OhioHealthy program has helped reduce health care costs and kept employee insurance premiums at the same level for 2009.

“Our concierge program also allows associates to take advantage of services such as running errands, making purchases, wrapping gifts and even waiting for a delivery at their house,” said Patton. “This service is free to all associates and allows them to maximize their time.”

There is one other thing that makes OhioHealth a great place to work, according to Mark Hopkins, the organization’s manager of media relations. “There is a collective and contagious pride because of the commitment to quality patient care that we provide, and have provided for over 100 years.”

Fortune Magazine's 2009 "100 Best Companies to Work For" list included the following 13 hospitals and health care systems (with headquarters location):

8 -- The Methodist Hospital System (Texas)

19 -- OhioHealth (Ohio)

45 -- King’s Daughters Medical Center (Kentucky)

59 -- Scripps Health (California)

62 -- Griffin Hospital (Connecticut)

63 -- The Mayo Clinic (Minnesota)

67 -- Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (Georgia)

68 -- Southern Ohio Medical Center (Ohio)

75 -- Atlantic Health (New Jersey)

76 -- Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network (Pennsylvania)

77 -- Northwest Community Hospital (Illinois)

79 -- Baptist Health South Florida (Florida)

85 -- Arkansas Children’s Hospital (Arkansas)

The full list and related stories can be found online at Fortune.com.

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