At one of our recent Staying Connected Staff Forums, you may have heard Deputy Chief Financial Officer Peter Tod speak about CM Health’s financial challenges. He reflected on the America’s Cup, commenting that pessimists complain about the wind, optimists expect it to change and realists adjust the sails. Emirates Team New Zealand are great realists. They’re so far in the lead not just because they have a great crew and a great boat, but because they still seek to continually improve their performance despite those advantages. Right up until the start of every race, they’re constantly adjusting their sails because of their unwavering commitment to do better.
This idea is echoed in many books written by some of my favourite authors. In Good to Great, Jim Collins writes about attention to detail being at the heart of great success. In Better, Atul Gawande tells the story of a public health doctor in India who got to know his community so well, almost down to the individual family level, that he was able to ensure infectious diseases in his part of the world were significantly less than in similar communities.
What’s common to these, and many other, authors is, I think, a simple but very universal thought: there’s no such thing as a sudden leap into excellence. In Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell talks about completing at least 10,000 hours of practise in order to achieve success. He talks about the Beatles as an example. Between 1960 and 1964, they performed over 1200 times in Germany in order to hone their performances. They weren’t a global success overnight, even if Beatlemania made it feel like it.
True excellence happens through sustained effort over time.
For that reason, I was absolutely stoked to attend a celebration on Ward 9, one of our inpatient surgical wards, earlier this week. We were celebrating the ward successfully being CLAB (Central Line Associated Bacteraemia) free for over 900 days. This is an extraordinary achievement and testament to the ward team’s sustained diligence, consistency, discipline and focus. Without fail for almost three years, they’ve systematically followed the bundle procedure every time a patient has presented with a central line. As a result, patients on this ward haven’t had to deal with what is one of the single most devastating infections a patient can get while in hospital, pain and harm have been avoided, money has been saved and most importantly, lives have been saved too. Over the last couple of weeks we’ve searched far and wide on the internet and through our professional networks, and as far as we can find, nobody else has documented a hospital ward being CLAB-free for such a sustained period of time. Ward 9’s achievement really is an example of excellence.
Watching Emirates Team New Zealand reclaim the America’s Cup is as much a celebration of the crew’s focus, diligence, professionalism and consistent, almost ruthless, push to do better as it is about bringing the silverware back to Kiwi shores. If we can celebrate that excellence on sailing’s world stage, then I think we should also take a moment to celebrate our own world-beaters in Ward 9. Their success proves not just that we can eradicate CLAB from our hospital wards, but that if you have a commitment to pursuing excellence and a determination to make something happen, you can bring it about. I’ve said before that we’re aiming to be the best healthcare system in Australasia by 2015. With our commitment to excellence and the results we’re achieving, I think it’s safe to say that we are already starting to make this a reality.
Finally, I’d like to take the opportunity to farewell Jenni Coles, our former Director of Hospital Services who left the organisation earlier this week after 30 years here (another example of sustained commitment over time). Jenni was highly regarded throughout CM Health and was instrumental in bringing about many successes during her time with us. She’ll be hugely missed but I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing her all the best for her new role.
I’d also like to welcome Phillip Balmer, who will join us on October 21 as our new Director of Hospital Services. Phillip joins us from Bay of Plenty District Health Board where he has been Chief Operating Officer since 2009. He has extensive senior management experience across a wide range of clinical areas and we’re looking forward to having him onboard.