Dignity Health, the fifth largest non-profit hospital system in the country with over 60,000 employees in 17 states, has recently completed a transition two years in the making. The system has rebranded itself from Catholic Healthcare West to Dignity Health. Although Dignity Health is made up of Catholic and non-Catholic care centers, there are ethical directives of the church in place but it is the principles of behavior that drive them.
One of the Dignity Health member hospitals is Mercy Gilbert Medical Center in Gilbert, AZ. In an interview with Anita Harger, Director of Human Resources, I learned of a unique onboarding approach that helps to instill the organizational values in a very powerful way. The onboarding is a full day event for the new employees as they get to experience the Service and Culture Day. The day starts with the Vice President of Mission Services story telling the history of the Sisters of Mercy and how everyone in the organization is involved in our Family Centered Care. The approach of family centered care has long been established in healthcare. Organizations realize that you can make a patient well, but to fully heal takes time. Family centered care involves as much as the whole family can be involved. Mercy has supported this practice from creating the family environment, choosing soothing décor and artwork, non restricted visiting hours, caregiver practices and establishing when environmental services can run equipment to clean the building. The story telling is a vital part of new employees understanding the importance of what they do every day and that every employee plays a part in family centered care – it is not only the direct caregivers that have that sole responsibility. Everyone is doing “sacred work” no matter where or what you are doing. Ms. Harger recounts that the day ends in a profoundly powerful way with the group going to the chapel for the Blessing of the Hands. Each person lights a candle and the chaplains say a blessing over each person’s hands. They all gather in a circle and listen to the closing of the day. She points out “it does not matter if you are a practicing Catholic or what your believe spirituality is. This is a very moving experience and by the end, there’s not a dry eye in the chapel!”
To dedicate an entire day to the education of who the organization is, how each person is expected to behave and the reason the principles of behavior exist is a sound approach to instilling the values. Dignity Health is considering hosting full or half day sessions for current employees to continue to experience the commitment to family centered care and renew the deep understanding and commitment to the organization. That sounds like a great way to continue to support their values.