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The Season of Renewal

Diary of A Director General
By Prof. Ehud Kokia
Director General, Hadassah Medical Organization

Anticipating the approach of Pesach and the Seder we will celebrate, I find myself thinking about the connection between the story of our going out from Egypt that we read about in the Haggadah - about the birth of the Jewish People as a people - and Pesach as the holiday of spring and the arrival of a new season.

Wherever we look here in Israel, we can see the signs of spring. Deep in the ground, long dormant roots are putting out new shoots, trees are blooming and flowers are blossoming - all sending a message of rebirth and renewal.

Three weeks ago, when we celebrated the opening of the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower, the arrival of the first patients seemed to revitalize the spirit that has propelled Hadassah forward. The celebration of Hadassah's centennial reminded us of our roots and how they have flourished over these past 100 years by constantly sending out new shoots, exploring new avenues, embarking on new endeavors.

Today, two departments have moved into the Davidson Hospital Tower, with more to follow. As each department takes root, so to speak, the staff becomes reenergized, reinvigorated, renewed. The potential of the new building is exceeded only by the excellence of our staff.

In the past, I have mentioned LEAN, a sophisticated management concept designed to optimize the flow of services and improve quality. I had observed LEAN in action in several American medical centers. Working with experts from Israel and the U.S., we began to introduce the LEAN process in the Emergency Room and outpatient clinics.

Last week, at a three-day workshop for the staff of the Ophthalmology outpatient clinic, I witnessed another outstanding example of our staff's cooperative effort. "The meetings were very successful," said Dr. Gabriel Polliack, who headed the meetings. Dr. Polliack, a recent addition to our staff, is the Deputy Director of Hadassah-Ein Kerem, specifically responsible for promoting outpatient services.

"All the people that deal with the flow of services to the patients were involved," he said. Department Head Prof. Jacob Pe'er and senior staff members, such as Prof. Itay Chowers, sat with the head nurses, receptionists, schedulers from the clinic and telephone center and members of management in charge of these services. In an environment where everyone was equal and every idea deserved consideration, they examined the staff and patient experience. Ask anyone who has been treated in the Ophthalmology outpatient clinic and they will tell you that the medical treatment is excellent; patient consideration, somewhat less so.

The first day, they analyzed the current work processes from the patients' and staff's perspective, beginning with the scheduling and ending with the completion of treatment and the scheduling of the next visit. Interaction with other departments and services such as information technology, the pharmacy and the emergency room, were also considered too. Their discussions helped them identify the significant bottlenecks. The next day they created two plans - the ideal and the real - what could be done with unlimited resources and what could be accomplished within the constraints under which they operate.

The last day was devoted to addressing the issues that need improvement and determining where and how they could create change. As they prepared their case for improving and expanding patient services, it was clear they were all in agreement. Dr. Yuval Weiss, Director of Hadassah-Ein Kerem, and I were part of the program - and, as it turned out, part of the solution. They needed our support and approval to proceed with the proposed concept. It was truly exciting to see the team sitting together, learning and listening, examining attitudes and generating ideas - and what they proposed was feasible, functional and valuable.

They concluded by grouping all the ideas by topics, creating a short-term action plan, assigning individual responsibility, creating task teams and deciding how to ensure follow up.

"All of them cared, they cared a lot," Dr. Polliack said, "They cared about the big picture and the little details. They cared about the patients.

Gaby Polliack is well acquainted with the need to please patients. He describes himself as "coming from a culture of patient service." A graduate of our Medical School, he completed his internship and residency in radiology at Hadassah. Recently, he was part of the management at Maccabi, Israel's leading healthcare provider, where he was responsible for the delivery of nationwide diagnostic outpatient services, and the delivery of primary medical care in the community, overseeing the comprehensive primary care medical network.

This workshop, the first of those planned, may seem unrelated to Pesach or to the trees and plants that abound in the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower, like those in the Jack and Barbara Kay Welcome Garden (right), and those that bloom on our doorstep. Yet that seminar - and those that will follow - is the realization of Hadassah's pioneering spirit that springs from its roots, the beginning of the blossoming of ideas and the pleasure our patients and we enjoy when they are in full bloom.

May you and your loved ones enjoy the pleasures of Pesach as we celebrate another season of renewal.

Date: 4/5/2012
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