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CEO At Center of Meningitis Outbreak Speaks

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, October 19, 2012

"That starts before any crisis and you're always trying to surround yourself with good people—people who know their operations resources and can think creatively in the moment, articulate their concerns, and look ahead."

That ability to anticipate challenges is hugely important, she says, because every crisis is so different, and always unexpected.

"We have our manuals and whatnot, but when you have an event, you have to bring the team together, scope the problem, and give them accurate information on what we're dealing with in the immediate future," she says.

It's important to plan for the short term—"the next four hours, for example," she says. "What am I missing? That's a question I always ask in meetings," she says, opening the floor up to anyone involved. "People can offer a lot in the problem-solving process."

Among first things everyone in the hospital did was check their supplies. "Our hospital does not use compounding pharmacies," she says, "so there was no need for a stopgap measure" regarding revised care protocols.

One the immediate crisis was contained, however, Rudolph had to deal with bruises the hospital had sustained to its own reputation following a time of intense national media scrutiny. 

Remember: While it is true that the hospital does not use compounding pharmacies, the general public makes no distinction between shots administered within the hospital and shots administered by a similarly named, but unaffiliated clinic  situated on the same campus.

"We needed to get the story right over time, but that didn't overwhelm us because we knew in the halls we were doing the right thing in preparing daily for what we needed to do," she says. "Still, don't be surprised by the psychological effect when the institution goes through any event like this."

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