Craig Saylor | Stepping out of the ivory tower for a reality check | News


Recently, I was paging through yet another health care journal, skimming the expert advice for everything from revenue generation and expense reduction to employee retention and patient engagement.

All too often, we read these journals, nod to the opinions and advice, and then move on to the next journal.

This is also a trap of attending industry conferences. We carefully listen to presentations that trigger agreement, understanding and occasionally motivation to make changes. The latter sometimes sends us back to the workplace energized to make changes, but frequently the culture overcomes the ambition.

In this recent journal, one title grabbed my attention, enough so to read the entire article, which was a critical accomplishment.

The title was “Our Ivory Towers.” To some extent, we all have our personal ivory towers; we really don’t understand or we forget how to walk in someone else’s shoes or our shoes of old. Reading the article triggered memories and how we can become distracted and distanced from the boots on the ground.

I grew up in health care as a front-line caregiver, and through the years transferred to various levels of management and leadership. What wasn’t understandable as a front-line employee was situations such as the cafeteria providing food services for employees only during Monday through Friday or, in other words, only when leadership was in the building.

We would often lament the lack of services available during evenings, nights and weekends. We couldn’t understand the need for executive parking or executive bonuses.

So why don’t we make changes when changes are necessary?

Unfortunately, culture sometimes wins out – over our best attempts to change. We can cite many examples of Ivory Tower syndrome, such as benchmarking our health-care quality improvement to state and national averages and not to best practices, degrading the results of customer and employee satisfaction data, attempts to shield our performance by focusing on the shortcomings of other organizations, or placing community politics ahead of organizational ethical standards.

Today more than ever, we must engage the front lines, change old hierarchical practices, dismantle our political behaviors and replace them with sound ethical standards.

We all must be held to the same standards.

Progress begins when we value those who strive to do their best when no one is looking and without fanfare.

Craig Saylor retired from Somerset Hospital as CEO after serving the organization for 35 years in various roles. He holds a fellowship with the American College for Healthcare Executives and is credentialed in Healthcare Quality.

Craig Saylor retired from Somerset Hospital as CEO after serving the organization for 35 years in various roles. He holds a fellowship with the American College for Healthcare Executives and is credentialed in Healthcare Quality.





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