October 17, 2008
Leadership meeting focuses on finances, Joint Commission and United Way

The MGH financial status, the Joint Commission and the United Way campaign were featured topics of the Oct. 10 leadership meeting for MGH managers, supervisors and leaders. MGH President Peter L. Slavin, MD, welcomed attendees and provided a summary of the general state of the hospital, including the highlights from FY '08. He also congratulated Gary Ruvkun, PhD, of the MGH Department of Molecular Biology, for being named a recipient of this year's Lasker Award.

Sally Mason Boemer, vice president of MGH Finance, explained that the MGH operating margin is $94.1 million through August, which is $2 million below budget. Several drivers account for this, such as lower inpatient activity and unfavorable service mix; lower research funding; and expenses running over budget. These underlying risks, which existed in FY '08 but largely were offset by one-time favorable revenue issues, may continue into FY '09. Therefore, the budget management processes undertaken during FY '08 were necessary and appropriate to manage ongoing budget challenges.

Mason Boemer also explained that the FY '09 budget does involve growth; however, these new revenue sources were used to fund wage and benefit programs and inflationary increases. To proactively position the MGH for the future, Slavin and hospital leadership are launching a series of operational initiatives addressing areas such as length of stay and supply management, with process improvement and analytics/budget management tools as key enablers to these initiatives.

In closing, Mason Boemer thanked managers and supervisors for their assistance with the FY '09 budget process and offered assurances that during these economic times, the MGH is fortunate to be in a strong starting financial position. She also stated that, by using a disciplined methodology for significant financial decisions and carefully monitoring operational and investment impacts, the hospital will maintain a successful long-term approach to maintaining the appropriate balance of mission and margin.

Gregg Meyer, MD, senior vice president of the MGH/MGPO Center for Quality and Safety, next provided updates on the Joint Commission and the annual United Way campaign. Recently, the hospital hired the Greeley Company to evaluate the hospital's compliance with Joint Commission standards. Consultants spent three days conducting a mock survey much like the one the Joint Commission will conduct during their next unnannounced survey at the hospital. Reviewers traced the care of a patient and observed safety compliance along the way. Results indicated several areas for improvement, including conducting and documenting time-outs before procedures and documenting pre-surgical histories and physicals. In addition, Greeley identified a need for the MGH to review and simplify some of its own policies.

Meyer stressed that the work related to Joint Commission readiness is primarily to ensure that staff provide the highest quality care and level of safety for all patients at all times. To help managers and supervisors promote safety and quality to their staff, the Joint Commission Communications Subcommittee has launched an internal website promoting "Excellence Every Day" at intranet.massgeneral.org/excellenceeveryday. The intranet site includes information about national patient safety goals and Joint Commission safety standards. A virtual toolbox includes materials that managers can use to present key information to their staff.

Meyer ended his presentation by encouraging all MGHers to make a donation to the MGH United Way campaign. This year's theme, "Now More than Ever," reminds individuals that during this turbulent economic climate, donations are needed and can make a true difference now more than ever. The goal this year is to increase the percentage of MGHers who donate from 5 percent to 6 or 7 percent. More information about the United Way campaign, which launches Nov. 6, will appear in upcoming issues of MGH Hotline. 

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