Stories of Excellence

Each quarter, Mid-Columbia Medical Center honors employees who have gone beyond the call of duty to help improve the lives of our patients or members of our community. MCMC employees are asked to nominate worthy co-workers in the form of a Story of Excellence. We believe these stories so beautifully demonstrate the giving spirit of the MCMC employee that we share them here to give you a sense of the quality of person you can expect to encounter you should you ever be in our care.
Christmas Giving, the Spirit of Excellence
Many Pitch in for a Christmas to Remember
MCMC Secret Santas Provide Special Needs Cheer
Lending a Helping Hand
Above and Beyond at the MCMC Pharmacy
Going the Extra Mile for Patients
Delivering Healthcare to a Rural Community
Taking Time Off to Care
Bake Sale for Healthcare is Heaven-sent
Giving 110% the Norm for One
Excellence in Customer Service
The True Gift: Seeing a Face Light Up

Christmas Giving, the Spirit of Excellence

Christmas is a time of year when people often go out of their way to help someone else; when folks are willing to help make Christmas a little brighter for a family who is struggling. Year after year, the employees at MCMC are exceedingly generous in their help for others and this is a story of one group of employees who showed the spirit of giving, the true spirit of Christmas.

One of our employees, a nurse supervisor, was with a group of her daughter’s friends and they were excitedly talking about all that was happening at their houses in preparation for Christmas. This mom noticed that one of the girls was very quiet so she asked her if they had their tree yet; the young girl hesitated and in the silence the mom said something to try to make her less uncomfortable. The girl blurted out, “my dad died just after Thanksgiving and so we don’t have the money for a tree or presents. We’re not having Christmas this year.”

Checking with the teacher and school principal, our employee discovered that indeed this child’s father had passed away and that times were very tight. Coming back to work and feeling that something needed to be done, our employee emailed the others in her department about the situation. Within an hour she had over $250 in cash and gift cards and a number of offers for a tree. The gifts were taken to the teacher so that the family could receive them anonymously. This department truly helped a family in need, a family that only one knew slightly, and together portrayed the spirit of excellence for which MCMC is justifiably proud.

Many Pitch in for a Christmas to Remember

This is a beautiful and heart-warming story of how so many MCMC staff helped a single father and his sons celebrate the season.

Employees donated a digital camera, purchased a computer cable and carrying case for the camera, contributed to the money envelope that was used to purchase the 2 iPods and eye glasses. We just circulate an envelope and do not keep track of who gives what, so all the staff members should be thought of. Other employees did the shopping.

Mid-Columbia Vision gave us a deal on the eye glasses. Other donations included new packages of underwear and the idea to hide the iPods in the packages of underwear……….boy, were those young men surprised!! Untold hours were spent on the phone coordinating and making sure this could happen. One of the employees was responsible for the timing of discharge, the admit, then transition to Hospice, plus she got Spiritual Care involved. Community Meals were arranged to provide Christmas dinner. The patient was re-admitted into care after his hospitalization, knowing that 3 days after he would go to Hospice and would be discharged. This is not our usual admit. We did this because the patient wanted to be able to access MCMC ER to keep himself as well supported as possible during the holiday weekend.

An RN, who was unselfish with her support and time, made many visits and provided much phone support on Christmas, and the weekend, to help the patient achieve his time at home (Celilo House) with his boys. Last, even physicians played a part. The physician who was very instrumental in this whole plan,and had advocated well for this patient, was out of town over the holiday weekend, and orders for Hospice to start after our 3 days could not be found. As backup, another physician graciously signed orders for this patient.

MCMC Secret Santas Provide Special Needs Cheer

You may or may not know that MCMC contracts with District 21 to provide school health nursing services. The cornerstone of that team is an employee who has been on staff for over 10 years. She is dedicated and passionate about doing all she can to address health and social issues that challenge student success. Over the years she has been on staff, she has seen the District merge and grow, the number of special needs students increasing and the everyday living challenges in the lives of more and more students each year. The issues are far too many, as are the students that need support but the employee does her best, one student at a time.

After we enjoyed the annual Christmas brunch with her fellow school health staff, we walked over to the atrium to select a secret Santa opportunity from the Christmas tree. We looked at many of the opportunities hanging there, but were finding it hard to connect with any particular request. As we stood there, floundering with a decision, when the employee suggested we select a high needs student for our Christmas gifts.

The student she had in mind has been known to the other members of the school health team since elementary school. He is now in the Middle School in the special needs track; autistic, with challenging behavior problems. His Christmas wish was a pair of real jeans (unlike the sweatpants he wore daily) that were actually his.

The employee suggested a contribution of dollars from all of us to take him on a clothes shopping trip. She contacted his school counselor for input on the idea, who enthusiastically embraced it and built the earning of the trip into his behavior contract for the classroom. Mom was contacted to see if the employee could take him shopping and found out that he had never shopped for clothes for himself before. Everyone agreed and the student was told of this unexpected Christmas present. Christmas break was just around the corner, so the shopping trip was planned for after the New Year.

School resumed and he was counting the days until the trip. It was postponed the first week awaiting mom’s permission to take him out of the classroom during the school day. Finally the day arrived. Here is an email to all of us after the big day:

We were finally able to reach Mom to give us the go ahead to take him shopping. It was a spectacular experience for him. I had called ahead and spoke to the customer service manager (I think!) anyway……… she shopped with us, helping us find the best deals. And………best of all she gave us deep discounts and money off to the tune of about $37.00 in addition to the money we already had to spend!!!!

So……. we bought him a pair of shoes
2 pair of “real” jeans
2 pair of sweat pants
2 shirts
1 sweater shirt
and……. a coat!!!

He was very happy. He could barely keep a smile off his face or contain his fun. He had never purchased new clothes, nor been in a fitting room to try on clothes. I also bought him a chocolate shake afterwards at Wendy’s.

Thank you for your monetary contribution for this child. It made his day. And, I told him that these clothes are for him, not his brothers. Thanks for making his day.
– Your colleague

Lending a Helping Hand

One of our employees had a bike accident that made a significant injury requiring daily dressing changes that the employee could not do herself. During the week, it was easy to go to the surgeon’s office and get the dressing changed. The week-end posed a significant problem.

Our employee heard about the incident and offered to come and do the wound care on the week-end. The first day she came twice to give the wound care and offer careful watch. She continued the care for the next several week-ends and offered to even come in the evening it made it easier for the employee.

Our employee worked the care around her very busy week-end schedule with her family and she even had guests in her home that she was busy preparing food and caring for. This selfless act help not only was calming to the employee, but she made sure the wound would heal without complications. Her expertise and care is appreciated more than she will ever know.

Above and Beyond at the MCMC Pharmacy

An employee was a great example of our Planetree philosophy last Friday night. The clinic was closed but still there were several nurses and Medical Assistants working away at 6:30pm. I overheard the employee speaking to a patient on the phone that is well known to the clinic, on call providers, and the ER. I was uplifted to hear her offer to take and drop off the patient’s prescriptions to his pharmacy when she got off work. She wanted to insure that he had his pain medication for the weekend and save him a trip to the clinic on Monday. She went above and beyond the call of duty due to our refill policy states we have 72 business hours and the patient had called after 4pm on Friday. She showed compassion for this patient. She truly exemplified MCMC’s mission and values.

This is not the first time the employee has stepped up and gone the extra mile. She stepped up in a huge way while I was on maternity leave last summer and my initial coverage had to suddenly take FMLA as well. She kept the West Pod running smoothly by taking on the extra tasks of scheduling, counting medications, checking the AED, etc. She continued to serve her provider and triage on her off days. She stepped up as a leader and role model and continues to lead daily. During all of her added duties, she still took the time to make a wonderful meal for me and my family.

The employee has great ideas for process improvements and is willing to help implement them. Once again, going the extra mile.

Going the Extra Mile for Patients

I am writing on behalf of my partner-in-work, my better half and my friend. This employee does a million little things every day that I feel are excellent. She goes out of her way, and above and beyond the call of duty, every day. Recently however, the employee responded to the Planetree call for excellence even more than usual.

We have a patient who suffers from end-stage COPD. She gets especially ill in the springtime when the winds pick up. Getting out of the house during this time is harder than usual. She lives up on a windblown hill in Moro which only makes matters worse. She was recently in the office on the Friday before a long weekend feeling a bit more sick than usual. We drew some blood and she headed for home. Her lab results came back critical. She was severely anemic and in need of some high-dose iron quickly. Our employee knew that she would have trouble getting back to town to pick up her prescription.

The winds were high and our patient was weaker than usual. Unbeknownst to me, the employee made arrangements with our patient. After work, she went to Fred Meyers to pick up the prescription (paying for it up front out of her own pocket). She then drove the prescription out to our patient’s house so that she could start taking the iron supplement that day. Beyond this, she made special arrangements with the Moro Clinic to have her blood rechecked there after the long weekend, so as to save her yet another drive back to The Dalles. She hand carried the order out to her house as well.

Without our employee’s personal attention, we may have had no choice but to have our elderly patient go to the ER for evaluation and possibly a blood transfusion. Because of her effort and excellence, our patient was able to begin taking a vital medication before a holiday weekend, saving potentially drastic measures later. The employee’s dedication to patient care and her human touch saved an already weak and compromised person from making repeated, difficult trips to town over a holiday in the wind that only makes her more ill. After a few days on the high-dose iron, our patient’s levels had turned around and started trending up. She was out of the woods and ready to start the more complicated task of working up the anemia.

Our employee doesn’t do the bare minimum and doesn’t “punch out”. Her compassion and dedication to patient care extends beyond the workday into her own time, effort and pocketbook. I am exceptionally proud to work with her and even happier to call her my friend.

Delivering Healthcare to a Rural Community

An employee lives out in Sherman County. She was worried that her patient wouldn’t get her medication when she needed it, so she waited over 2 hours at Fred Meyer for the pharmacy to get the prescription ready. The employee paid for it and drove it out to this patient’s house out in Sherman County. The patient was so grateful but didn’t have the money to pay the employee back at the time. The employee wasn’t worried about it and told the patient that sometime she may need something and she was sure the patient would be able to return her the favor.

The next day, the patient paid her the $13.91 for the RX when the employee was dropping off the patients recurring lab orders for the patient to take to the Moro Clinic. Our employee’s actions prove that she believes in the Planetree philosophy and is an advocate for holistic health. She went above and beyond the call of duty to make life a little easier for this patient in need.

Taking Time Off to Care

I recently spent 6 days at a conference in Louisiana with an employee. Since we do not work in the same department, I didn’t really know her, but we quickly hit it off. We had a great time and I felt like we had been friends forever.

Almost two months after our return, my husband fractured his foot. I immediately turned to the employee, the expert, for direction. We live in Goldendale and, as much as I would’ve preferred to come to MCMC to be seen, we ended up in the ER at Klickitat Valley Hospital. I immediately sent the employee a text message that said “I think hubby broke his foot- in ER at KVH. Can u see him today?” I immediately got a response that said “Oh no. I can see him at 10am. Bring x-rays.”

After being assured by KVH staff that the x-rays could be viewed by the employee electronically, we started our trek to The Dalles. About half-way there, we confirmed with the employee’s office staff (amazing, by the way) that we indeed needed the films on CD and that they could not be viewed remotely. So we turned around, waited for a CD, all the while knowing that we were going to be late for the 10am appt.

Again, I texted the employee and apologized up and down for the delay. She assured me that it was fine. When we arrived at the office almost 45 minutes late for our appointment, everyone was extremely helpful and accommodating. When the employee entered the exam room with her white lab coat on, she gave me that smile that said “Dang- I’m sorry this happened” and began examining my husband. While she studied his foot, I noticed that she was wearing jeans and boots with her white lab coat. Then it hit me. Today was her day off. She told me that while we were in Louisiana.

She gave no indication whatsoever that she was making a special trip from Hood River to see my husband. I sat quietly until she left the room and then confirmed with her Medical Assistant that it truly was her day off. When she returned I said, “I know what you did.” She brushed it off like it was nothing but it’s people like our employee that make a difference. It’s people like her that makes MCMC a great place to work

Bake Sale for Healthcare is Heaven-sent

My sister has struggled for years with a chronic condition that suddenly and unexpectedly hits and wipes her out completely. She can’t function, let alone work, when she has a flare up. Her last episode was uncharacteristically long and she was out of work for several months. All of her co-workers came together to care for her during that time. They provided rides to and from doctor appointments, brought meals, pooled together money to help her through the difficult time, and most importantly, visited her and sent cards, thoughts and prayers.

She couldn’t ask for a more supportive, thoughtful, caring team. As if it couldn’t get any better, one nurse in particular, did the most incredible thing for my sister. She knew of a program in Alabama that helped people in my sister’s situation gain control of their condition through an intensive month-long wellness program that focuses on diet, stress, emotional health, spirituality, exercise, etc. It seemed like just what my sister needed. The employee not only provided information on this wonderful program, she took it upon herself to raise the money to pay for it too! Her dad is a wonderful baker and is known for his specialty breads. She held a special bake sale and “pre-sold” loaves of bread, cinnamon rolls, buns, etc. right before the holidays. It was a huge success.

Her poor dad spent days baking and baking to fill all of the orders. He had absolutely nothing to gain from this nor did he even know my sister.

To raise the rest of the money, her family (all wonderful bakers) held a cooking class to teach people their secret recipes and special tips. As I sat in that room watching the employee’s mom and dad make batch after batch of bread, teaching a room full of people the secrets of perfect bread-making, the wall lined with dozens and dozens of samples, I was struck by the most sincere sense of gratitude for what these people were doing. All the work, all the preparation, the time they had put in to this was incredible. All for someone that most of them didn’t even know my sister. I can’t describe in words what this meant to my entire family. She is an angel on earth and we will never forget her, or her family’s, kindness.

Giving 110% the Norm for One

You know, everywhere I go in the hospital people ask me who the gentleman with the red hair is. Then they tell me how he did something for them above the normal. When I am in the store people come up to me and say “I was in the hospital last week and an employee did something special for me” or “He helped me with a question” or “He gave me a hug and asked if I need anything.” The employee is Planetree through and through. I have never met a nicer man who gives 110%. He has a heart of gold; he would do anything to help you lend a hand or just give you a big hug and a smile. Maybe I am biased because I care a lot for him. This man has helped me in life’s trials, and for that, I am writing to have him nominated as one of the Chapter 4 winners.

Excellence in Customer Service

I would like to submit this wonderful story. She is the newest employee in my department, still in her probationary period. However, I believe she has taken hold of the Planetree philosophy and is doing a great job of helping our customers.

Email from patient’s wife:
My name is (patient name omitted) and I was brought to the Mid-Columbia Medical Center on April 29, 2010 with a work-related injury. Everyone from the receptionist to the nurses and doctors were very professional, and genuinely nice to me. I really appreciated their wonderful service.

My workers’ compensation insurance provider assured me that everything was covered and I was to relax and heal. Then the bills started coming from the hospital, the radiologist and the crutches provider. Never having made a workers’ compensation claim before, I was confused and afraid. The claim has already been closed and I am still not back to work.

So, I called each of the providers billing me and found out no one had proper information on my claim, therefore they chose to bill me directly. I became even more confused. Then, the employee returned my call. She listened to my explanation of the problem, agreed that something had gone wrong, and offered to follow up with all the interested parties and see if she could straighten this out. I was left with the impression that I was dealing with a professional who knew their job, and was confident she could get positive results.

Only a few days later, I was surprised to hear from her. The employee had contacted everyone, distributed the proper information about my claim, and reconciled the billing. I know that this was beyond the scope of her duties, and I truly appreciated her efforts on my behalf. She exhibited superior professionalism, an expert level of job knowledge, warm customer service, and diligence following through on all customer issues.

The True Gift: Seeing a Face Light Up

An employee was taking a patient out of the hospital to catch her ride and as they passed the gift shop the patient asked to go in. He took her in and the patient looked at the night lights and admired one of them greatly. The employee then wheeled her around to look at other items and she keep asking to look at the night light. The patient was disappointed because she had come to the hospital without any money and said that if she had money with her she would buy the night light. The employee then took her to the lobby to wait and he quickly came back to the gift shop and tossed his name badge to the cashier and asked for the night light to be put in a box and charged to him so he could give it to the patient. He then went back to the lobby to give the night light to the patient.

The Auxiliary member shared this with me on two occasions because this act of kindness touched her so very much!