I have been an employee of Altru Health System for nearly three decades. Yet, it wasn’t until this summer that I experienced having a family member as a patient at Altru for an extended period of time.
While watching my 91-year-old dad face several medical issues, I saw a lot of good happening inside the walls of Altru. I saw compassion and respect. We are a complicated network of humans taking care of humans, and he was treated very much like someone’s dad or grandpa.
Beyond the care my dad received, I watched the team gather around the monitor of a young man who was losing his life. I saw the nurse who turned around with tears streaming down her face when the line went flat. This is the work these people do every day. It’s incredible.
On August 30, I was holding my dad’s hand when he took his last breath. I spend a lot of time reflecting on our stay at Altru. I think about the staff who cared for him and how they upheld our behavior standards and delivered world-class care, especially when these were some of the last experiences of my dad’s life.
Setting the Standards
Throughout 2015, we have been rolling out a set of behavior standards at Altru Health System. We started by exploring What it means to say: I AM ALTRU. In the spring, we dug deeper into Acknowledge and Respect. Summer brought our focus to Meaningful and Team. And, this fall, we held the magnifying glass to Listen and Understand. As we enter into the final season, it’s time to study Integrity and Accountable.
Let’s start with Integrity.
We will always do the right thing even when no one is watching.
- I will lead by example.
- I will be honest and fair in all my interactions.
- I will represent Altru in a positive light in the community even when I am not at work.
- I will admit mistakes and take corrective action immediately.
- I will be a good steward of all resources.
To me, integrity is a powerful foundation upon which all the other standards can rest. Always doing the right thing… even when no one is watching. Leading by example. Admitting mistakes and promptly fixing them. This standard really sets the tone for creating the culture of excellence and accountability we are working toward.
Next, let’s look at Accountable.
We will accept responsibility for our actions and behaviors.
- I will coach and give feedback to others who are not upholding standards.
- I will be open to receiving feedback.
- I will follow through on any work I am expected to complete.
- I will always help others and do what needs to be done at the moment.
- I will take pride in my appearance as well as the appearance of the health system.
Accountability represents how we put our behavior standards into action. This is where the rubber meets the road. If we aren’t holding each other accountable for all of the behavior standards, they just become a meaningless bunch of words on a pretty sheet of paper. What we permit, we promote. This standard makes or breaks if we are going to deliver world-class care.
Accountability, on a foundation of personal integrity, is the key to consistency and always providing excellent care no matter the patient or setting. Inconsistency is a symptom of not holding people accountable. Holding people accountable gives them the opportunity to do better.
Our patients and families deserve the best. At Altru, we have to consistently deliver an excellent experience. We can’t do that if we aren’t held accountable to our behavior standards and other critical work 100 percent of the time.
We do many things well. We have talented, compassionate staff who truly care about our patients and want to do their best. Together, we will achieve world-class care.