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Healthcare Leaders Sound Off on Organized Labor

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, May 15, 2013

Joseph Pepe, MD
President and CEO

Catholic Medical Center
Manchester, N.H.

It's a top threat, but I wouldn't put it in the top three. Most of the time you can't see this threat. But I tell my senior staff to rest assured that it is always there, hiding in the shadows and ready to pounce if the timing is right. It's best to be proactive and do what's right for employees all the time and not just when the threat comes out of the shadows.

The most important key is open and frequent communication. I have open forums with employees every month. I meet with representatives of the various departments every other month and I meet with the physicians' cabinet every month. It is important in these meetings to make them feel safe to ask questions, and I encourage them to do so.

Respect is another key. This starts at the top with the CEO and senior leaders treating everyone with respect. I expect them to respect not only their supervisors and patients but also to respect each other. This is a place that is opposite from a toxic environment.

It's important to be visible. I round on the floors once a week and I encourage my senior staff to do the same. When there is a crisis, I go there either right away or shortly after that to show my support and ask if everyone is okay. Just being visible shows that you care.

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