Message from the President

Collaboration in Action

by Loren Hamel, MD - President, Spectrum Health Lakeland | Feb 5, 2020

I get asked most days, “How is integration going?”

It’s been more than a year since we joined forces with Spectrum Health and a lot has been accomplished. And there is still a lot more work to do. We are committed to creating new value for our patients, new value for our communities, and new value for our teams.

Value is a word often used in health care. Adding value is hard work but mission critical work. And it is the centerpiece of what brought our two health systems together in late 2018.

Much of the integration journey involves complex processes, careful study, committee meetings, and change management efforts. All of that is absolutely necessary, and mostly predictable. But it doesn’t tell the whole story. 

Lindsey had just transferred to the Lakeland laboratory from Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids. Even though she was brand new to the team, she noticed that there was something we might be able to do a little bit better. She spoke up about a site cleaning device for blood culture collections. Her team listened, researched the device, and ran with it. After the site cleaning device was adopted, we had the lowest blood culture contamination rate in December 2019 that we have had since 2010, and possibly ever.

Lindsey proposed a change to improve a process and outcomes. It wasn’t a topic of integration strategy. It was one person who spoke up with curiosity and courage to suggest a change. Sometimes, that’s all it takes. And it can go both directions.

Alicia VanTuyl, a Lakeland manager for pre-surgery planning, with Dr. Edlund of the Surgical Optimization Clinic in Grand Rapids scheduled site visits for their teams to meet. Impressed with the surgical risk score designed by Lakeland, Dr. Edlund’s team adopted some of those education tools for oral hygiene, exercise, and diet leading up to the surgery, and preventing surgical site infections through tasks at home including hand hygiene, not sharing towels with family, and using clean clothes and sheets.

I love stories like these. Curious people like Alicia and Dr. Edlund, collaborating across Spectrum Health divisions, are finding a way to share, and learn, and improve the way we care for our friends and neighbors.

You might have noticed that these efforts were not part of a new project, or a new initiative. Often, they don’t have a new budget or require much in the way of new resources. It’s just curious and courageous people wanting to do great work. And wanting to share what they’ve learned with others.

How about you? Have you spotted a problem you want solve? Have you seen a success you want to share? Is it something you expect you can do without spending a lot of money or involving a lot of people? Follow the examples of Lindsey and Alicia. Make the most of being part of a larger and more complex health care family. Be curious. Collaborate. And share your story.

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If you would like to read more of Message from the President, click here

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© Spectrum Health Lakeland 2020