MH: Can you give an example of a good idea at the wrong time?
Roodman: I think it was a good decision to put in our electronic health record in 2012-13. We did it wall-to-wall. But it cost an arm and a leg. We underbudgeted that. And we changed accountants in the process and realized we couldn't capitalize some of the costs. We made the decision not to abort and not to shortchange it, but actually add people from Epic Systems at the elbow to help so that the implementation would be a good one and we would not have a crisis, which has happened at many places across the country. We miscalculated the budget, but we figured out what to do. I think it was a good idea at the wrong time.
The same thing is true with affiliations. We considered affiliations every year and thought we should be Switzerland and work with everyone. But in 2010, we interviewed with 10 different organizations, and the timing was right. And we felt we made the right decision and chose the right partner, and that was UW Medicine.
MH: Can you explain more about Valley Medical's affiliation with the University of Washington? Why did you pursue this?
Roodman: What got us into the alliance was the Affordable Care Act. In 2010, we talked with all of those different organizations. By the beginning of 2011, we had signed a nonbinding letter of intent with UW Medicine to become its eighth entity and remain as a system within a system. We saw the opportunity of two public entities with a common culture and common missions to come together for the greater good. We found and chased integration on three different levels—governance, clinical and business. All of that allows us to focus more and be successful with the triple aim of healthcare.
MH: What do you believe is most important for a high-functioning hospital or healthcare organization, considering all the changes going on due to healthcare reform?
Roodman: In all the years I've been doing this, we've been able to develop facilities and technology and services and programs, and they are all important. But people are the most important. People will do things that will help patients and other people if they're happy. And people generally feel happy when they are secure, when they trust their boss, when they feel compassionate and when they have hope for the future. From my perspective, it's been about relationships that make a difference.
MH: How do you build and enhance those types of relationships within your hospital?
Roodman: One of the goals we have is to be the employer of choice in our area. We have a very low voluntary turnover rate of 4%. Recruitment and retention is a stated objective. I think it is all about the culture and treating people with respect. We do a lot of little things and a lot of big things. Every year when employees pass their anniversary, they get a happy anniversary card from me and a handwritten note from me. And it ties into something personal. It could be something about a new grandchild or something done at work. I think communication is at the core of good employee relations.