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Five Questions About Community Engagement

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, November 17, 2010

How will the preview center promote community engagement?
It will serve in a variety of capacities. It will be a key forward-facing facility to interact with the community. We'll have open houses and welcome local community neighborhoods and schools to come visit us and learn about what's new at Nemours and in healthcare. It's a working model or working lab where our clinicians and families and patients are coming and providing us with feedback on the equipment and furnishing—so we're testing them and will be ready for the new hospital. While this is an investment up front, we expect it's a good investment that will result in better care more quickly when we open the hospital and create a better experience for the patients and families and physicians that come on board.

Do you think other hospitals and health systems should consider adding a community engagement director role to their executive team?
Relationship building has never been more important, but I think different organizations call [the community engagement role] by different names. So I'm not going to be so presumptuous to imply that they don't value it because I think they do and I have enormous respect for what other hospitals are doing. I appreciate that Nemours acknowledges and values relationships at the level that they do, whether it's with their patient and their patient families—because we're very much about patient-centered care—or with physicians. community leaders, and community partners. They're very thoughtful about that and it's extremely important in a world where everything is changing. The healthcare system is changing—remuneration of healthcare costs and the systems by which that is occurring is changing. But what remains the same are human beings. And if you can keep that human connection and remember that's at the foundation of everything we're doing, then we're going to be okay.

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