Beyond doubt

Stay focused

While Degina was communicating with candor, he was also making sure that his communications provided direction on the business at hand. When you’re tackling tough times, you want everyone to know the details, but you don’t want them to be so worried
about it that they ignore their work.

“Regardless of what your role is in the organization, you are part
of the team that takes care of patients, and, again, that’s what we’re
here for,” he says. “The more we could keep everyone focused on
that very important foundation of our mission, then we could keep
everyone from speculating on what was going to happen and what
it meant to everybody,”

So while Degina and the leadership team turned up the frequency of communications — changing quarterly town-hall meetings to
a monthly event and regularly e-mailing updates on the deal —
they also made sure that they sent out regular communications on
business as usual. They continued to have formal programs to
honor excellence in patient service and to hand out both informal
thank-yous around the hospital as well as to send home thank-you
notes for employees.

“Probably the biggest challenge is trying to maintain an environment and a work force that is focused on taking care of patients in
an increasingly complex environment,” Degina says.

“I think that always recognizing the staff for what they do… or
acknowledgments of a job well done are things that really go a
long way to keep people motivated and focused on what they need
to do within the organization.”

Those programs already existed at the hospital, but Degina wanted to be sure that there continued to be an emphasis on the
rewards of business as usual at all levels. In doing so, employees
felt more tied to daily duties than the transition, helping them realize that regardless of the ownership, the hospital work remained
necessary.

“I think our leadership team and management team being consistent in communication was key,” Degina says. “And, fortunately, we did it.”

As a result of the leadership team’s focus on communication, the
hospital made a smooth transition to ownership by UM. Degina
also likes to point out that his staff lost very few members during
the transition — and that is something he attributes to the communication with his people. In fact, the hospital, in an industry with
traditionally high turnover rates, actually saw its turnover numbers
drop to 19.2 percent in 2007, down more than 3 percent from 2006.

“There was the comfort level that eventually we got people to
that this place is going to be here regardless of ownership, and there was going to be an opportunity for them to work here no
matter what,” he says.

HOW TO REACH: University of Miami Hospital, (305) 325-5511 or www.umiamihospital.com

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