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Journey to Engaged Leadership

Author:

Bonnie Maddex, RD, LD
Clinical Dietitian/Sustainability Coordinator
St Johns Medical Center

I have been the chair of the recycling team/ sustainability committee at St. Johns Medical Center for many years. What we did or accomplished ebbed and flowed based on time restraints and the current administration/leadership team. We currently have a CEO who is very interested in wellness, both for staff and the community and that’s why I think we have started making more progress.

We have a long history of feeding our staff for recognition, awards, stressful days and more. However in October 2012, the radiology department wanted to give out pink iced cupcakes to all staff and visitors for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As a registered dietitian, nothing says “breast cancer prevention” LESS than a white cupcake with pink frosting. The wellness coordinator and I went to our CEO and he stopped the cupcakes, but then challenged us to take a closer look at the food we were offering in the cafeteria, caterings and special events. We developed a “food plan,” and that was my first experience of using the Healthier Hospitals Challenges and information. We signed the Healthy Food Pledge. We started an educational campaign on sugar-sweetened beverages (including a lobby display, dots on drinks and started offering free lemon water and free flavored soda water). We also adopted “no fry day, started purchasing meats without antibiotics and purchasing local produce from a CSA in the summer.

 Over the next two years we continued to have a sustainability committee and we accomplished several more initiatives: installing smart sinks, for example. Again I felt that we were too much of a voluntary committee without any real power to make change and no real route to get items approved. In April 2015 I asked the CEO to allow me to dedicate 12 hours each week of my time to sustainability and add the title “sustainability coordinator” to my job. This was approved and it was decided that I would report to the facilities manager for that part of my job description. One factor soon became reality—being told you can take the time and then actually finding the time are two different beasts. I still often do not get the time to do sustainability as I let my other RD tasks take precedence.

Next was the idea of joining Practice Greenhealth. I had attended many of their webinars and looked at a lot of their resources but I wasn’t sure it was cost effective and neither was my new supervisor. I called several hospitals that were members and asked their opinion. They were positive about the organization. I felt Practice Greenhealth had significant resources that would give me guidance and knowing that I would do better having to be accountable to someone, we did decide to join.

Since joining I worked on gathering baseline data and the signed up for the Engaged Leadership Challenge. I was working on the older criteria when the new Engaged Leadership Challenge came out.

So I did things a bit out of order. First I wrote “Principles of Engaged Leadership,” our executive commitment statement for St John’s. And I used the examples on the Practice Greenhealth website. Next, I took slides from various presentations and made a PowerPoint presentation which I first presented to our senior management team to assure they were all on board before I presented it to the board. There was a several month delay in getting on the agenda for the board meeting and during this time the new engaged leadership criteria for level 1 came out. I already had my presentation, so I admit, I was not thrilled at first to be asked to fill out several new worksheets. Then I remembered that the one item our CEO had asked for was that I add information on what we have done already. That was where the three worksheets “Making the Case,” “Champions ,“and “Sharing Successes” really walked me through gathering the information that I needed to present to the board. I was able to take that information and bring it into my PowerPoint presentation. Practice Greenhealth’s Julie Moyle helped me to fine-tune the presentation and then, when the CEO asked me to make it even shorter, helped me again. The worksheets also gave me ideas for the employee newsletter and I will highlight several “champions” over the next several months.

The presentation went well. We are a small community hospital in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The community as a whole has strong environmental stewardship values and strong feelings about protecting our wild places and lands. That being said, it was a fairly easy sale to the Board but they still wanted to know how this would save money and how we would report/measure our successes. Being able to draw on some of the examples from Practice Greenhealth was very useful.

Now comes the next steps—we need to create a plan of action, what we want to do next and how we will measure it. Looking forward to new challenges and achieving Level 2 of engaging leadership.

Comments

Photo Of
PG Awards and Benchmark Report Card
Submitted by on May 12, 2016 - 5:17 pm

Bonnie - thanks for sharing your journey, and how you used the resources of HH enrollment and PG membership. Re: identifying next steps and how to measure/track: look to the PG Environmental Excellence Award applications and subsequent benchmark report card of facility and sector performance around key indicators. Thanks for all that you are doing for the hospital, community and region! Julie

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Baby Steps
Submitted by on May 27, 2016 - 5:11 pm

Hi Bonnie - thank you for sharing your story. We're glad that the worksheets and power point template helped you build your case. The Sustainability Benchmark report might be the next resource to help you demonstrate the financial return for numerous interventions. Keep up the good work and know you are making a difference.

Janet Howard, Director, Member Engagement, Practice Greenhealth

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