Engaging, Restoring, & Transforming Healthcare People and Organizations



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Engaging, Restoring, & Transforming Healthcare People and Organizations

Hi Folks, welcome to the Swift Healthcare video podcast, I’m Patrick Swift and I’m delighted that you are here. Thank YOU for your SUPPORT!

This video podcast is for you, healthcare folks. It’s about your needs, as providers, as leaders, clinicians, team members, professionals.  Each episode, I’ll have a conversation with a thought leader touching on Healthcare and Leadership, including perspectives from within and from outside healthcare.

For this first episode, before I bring on guests, I want to share with you my why...why Swift Healthcare podcast?  I’ll tell you, and it may surprise you.  For starters, I’ve been in healthcare for over 25 years, been a hospital CEO, in leadership positions at 2 of the top 10 health systems in the United States, and I’m a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.  

I’ve coached countless healthcare folks throughout my career as a leader, and I’ve treated thousands of patients as a clinical psychologist over the decades. And I’ve seen how healthcare has the power to heal and transform our patients and co-workers lives, as well as having the power to destroy and end them. We have to do better in healthcare, for our colleagues, and for the patients we serve. There is a higher standard, and we’d better pursue it on this planet, or everyone loses. 

If Healthcare were a 20-story building, I’d say at least 10 of the floors are on fire and we need to act now. Some would say they’re all on fire!  And if you’re fighting a fire, the first thing you gotta consider is be prepared.  When I was a Eagle Scout in high school, I remember going on a backpacking trip in New Mexico with my friends, trekking through valleys and climbing mountains for several weeks. I had my team, my backpack full of supplies and gear, but the most important thing I had with me wasn’t a thing, it was being mentally prepared.  As an Eagle Scout, I believe that being mentally prepared applies directly to healthcare and what we’re facing today.  Are you mentally prepared for what you are facing or are going to face?  

This podcast is about preparing you for what lies ahead or helping you deal with what you are facing now. I don’t have all the answers, but I trust that my guests will help shine a light in the direction we need to look to see more clearly.  My why for this podcast comes from who I am. I come from a multicultural and multifaith family. My mother is Mexican and my father is Texan, I’m Tex-Mex, not just because I love chips and salsa, but because it’s who I am as a person. My grandparents were Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant, so I grew up with an immediate family that held different religious beliefs, had different colors of skin, and spoke different languages. It reminds me of a hospital, reminds me of a country, that can hold hundreds, thousands, if not millions of people, from many different perspectives and orientations. 

Diversity, Unity is an integral part of me, I actually believe it’s an integral part of healthcare.  E pluribus unum, Out of the many, ONE. Unity is integral to healthcare. Not just within the US, but within the human family. In the immortal words of my favorite band U2, “there is no them, there’s only us.” On a scale of 1 to 10, how E pluribus unum are you as a healthcare professional? Meaning, how much do you recognize that we’re on the same team, Team Human. I think it’s directly related to how effective you are as a healthcare leader, a team member, a provider. 

My why for this podcast also comes from knowing what it’s like to burn out as a healthcare provider. Healthcare folks - we are mission driven people - we want to help and serve others. I can recall years ago when I was burning the candle at both ends, taking on too much: working crazy long hours, and volunteering, while raising two-small children with my wife, who was also working full-time, and burning herself out, God bless her. When it got to the lowest point, I realized my life was a recipe for burnout. 

There were things that were out of my control, that I could not change, of course. But there were also other things in my life that I could control.  And that is where I started to make changes, little changes that helped make things better, like taking better care of myself, being more present to care for my wife and kids, and things slowly turned around. So I’ll ask you, is your professional life a recipe for burnout, especially in light of COVID? I hope not. But if it is, this podcast is about nourishing you with best-practices to support you, and your career.  

My why, also comes from knowing what it’s like to burn out as a healthcare leader. Years ago, I was leading an organization, supporting my team...physicians...employees who were doing amazing things, caring for patients who truly needed us. But in healthcare, we are frequently doing more and more, with less and less. I had lost several leaders, which meant I was doing several more jobs myself, working ridiculous hours, practically sleeping at my office. And finally, I woke up, and decided I had to do something different and make a paradigm shift in my life: I got a coach, created a plan, and found a path forward to balance my priorities. It changed my life.  

So if you have been ground down to dust by your job, your clinical work, or your leadership, do not give up. Seek support, talk to a professional colleague, get a coach, do something about it, while you hang in there, and trust that life is not happening to you. It’s happening for you. Tony Robbins taught me that, and the perspective of gratitude for my challenges, has transformed my life. 

Near the beginning of this episode, I said Healthcare is like a 20-story building, and at least 10 of the floors are on fire.  I want to end with this story.  When I was in about, the 2nd grade, my family had a tradition of carving pumpkins to celebrate Halloween. We’d each carve a pumpkin, place a candle in it, and keep it safe in the family room. And one day I came home from school, lit my candle, and took it to my bedroom. I placed it on a shelf, near a bunch of highly flammable toys, (this was back in the day), and turned around to play with something else. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the flame catch, travel up the shelves, and set my bunk bed on fire. I ran down the hall to the bathroom, grabbed a dixie cup, those small little cups, and ran back down the hall to the fire and threw a tiny bit of water onto the blaze. Nothin. So I ran back down to the bathroom, grabbed 2 dixie cups, and threw two little splashes of water onto the blaze that was engulfing my room. Nothin. The little Cub Scout in me, knew I needed help. So I ran to the other end of the house to find my mother in a back room with the door closed.  Being a polite kid, I knocked, and waited for permission to enter. when i heard my mother’s voice say, “Come in M'hito.”  I burst in the room and told her my room was on fire. We ran to tackle our 1-alarm blaze where she thankfully, closed the door to the bedroom, which starved the fire of fresh oxygen, and called the fire department, who came and extinguished the blaze. My mother, to her credit, instinctively knew the acronym RACE - for those of you, in the know, say it with me: Rescue, Alarm, Confine, Extinguish.

I think the dixie cup strategy, bringing limited resources to tackle major problems, is what we have been doing in general, in healthcare to address major blazes that are raging out of control. Can you think of a problem that seems insurmountable in healthcare right now?  I can think of a few.  And our current way of doing things means, according to Modern Healthcare, 161,000 preventable deaths occur each year in U.S. hospitals, that’s 3 people dead from poor hospital care in the 10 minutes it takes to watch this segment. And those are just United States facts, not global data.

This podcast is about calling for a higher standard, making a call to action, a battle cry for real solutions. What’s wrong in healthcare is always available. So is what’s right!  We can, we MUST do better in healthcare, to engage our colleagues, to bring restorative leadership to the workforce, and to transform ourselves and our organizations for the good of all.

Thank you for your support!

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