A Different World

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By Michael W. Miller, CRA

In January 2013, I started in my role as director of imaging services at Evangelical Community Hospital in Lewisburg, PA. I had retired from the US Air Force in 2005 – all 23 of my years there were in the radiology field. I was always stationed at an Air Force base that had a hospital for all of my assignments. Working in an Air Force hospital is nothing like working in a civilian health care institution. The issues I have to deal with now are nothing that I could have ever imagined back then. Shortly after my retirement from the Air Force, I started working in the outpatient arena. I spent six years doing everything from being an x-ray tech at a single facility to overseeing all x-ray operations company wide. I also spent some time as Center Manager, overseeing up to three large facilities at one time. With all that it’s still a different world when you’re overseeing a 365/24/7 operation. I soon realized that the good old days of opening in the morning and closing at night were long gone.

I had a strong desire to garner more knowledge of a hospital environment. When the Partners in Learning e-mail came to my inbox I jumped on the opportunity and applied for the grant. The good thing about Evangelical Community Hospital is that it’s a strong, standalone community hospital. The not so good thing about Evangelical Community Hospital is that it’s a strong, standalone community hospital. The reason I say that is because I have no one to turn to should I have any managerial issues. Not being part of a larger hospital system does have its disadvantages. Reaching out to other AHRA members via the AHRA Forum is fantastic, but I’m more of a visual person, so an on-site visit was just what I was looking for.

I chose Columbia Memorial Hospital in Hudson, NY for my site visit. My sponsor for the week was Rhonda Makoske, Director of Medical imaging. I was also fortunate to spend time with other members of her management team: Kelly Vooris, Nicole Fletcher and Jenn Lyons. Right from the start I knew it would be a great fit, as Rhonda and I played “phone-tag” just to talk about setting up a good time for me to come and visit. This was true testament to both how very busy we both were! I chose Columbia Memorial because we had such a similar operation. We are both a small, not-for-profit, organization that shared the same modalities.

Each day of my visit started with a meeting with the COO. Rhonda and her peers would “report-in” with the activities and scheduled patients for the day. This gave the COO the opportunity to gauge the operations for the day and whether or not the staff could be flexed out if the need arose. I quickly learned that the workforce was unionized and there was a particular “pecking order” when staff was flexed. I also attended a HCAHPS Steering Committee Meeting. Believe it or not, this community hospital in Hudson, NY experiences the same types of issues as my community hospital in Lewisburg, PA. On my last day we went off-site and visited one of the two outpatient centers. It was an old hospital that been transformed into a professional building; it was a great example of what renovations can do to an old facility. It had great equipment and a customer focused technical staff that did great things for the community.

Rhonda and I still exchange e-mails, and she has been very gracious to share some of her quality initiatives with me as well as numerous policies and procedures. I want to thank Rhonda and her staff for hosting me, as well as Karen Tassey, hospital COO (Rhonda’s Boss). A great big thank you to the AHRA Education Foundation and GE Healthcare for developing and maintaining such a fantastic program. It was a great three days in Hudson, NY, and I would encourage anyone who is entertaining the thought of participating in the program as either a host or participant to do so as soon as possible. There are great things that happen out there each and every day.

Columbia Memorial Hospital
Columbia Memorial Hospital
Columbia Memorial Hospital Staff
Columbia Memorial Hospital Staff

Michael W. Miller, CRA is the director of imaging services at Evangelical Community Hospital in Lewisburg, PA. He can be reached at michael.miller@evanhospital.com.

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