Sunday, November 24, 2013

100 Days of Listening at Salus

Well, it looks like winter, or at least a sample of what winter is going to be like here in Philadelphia is upon us! Time really flies when you're having fun so it's hard for me to believe that I've been at Salus for almost 6 months now. A highlight of my time here has been getting to know the extremely talented group of students, faculty and staff - AND analyzing the results from my 100 days of listening. On Thursday and Friday of last week the Salus President's Council and I went off campus and conducted an extremely fruitful and rewarding facilitated off-site designed to set the stage for charting the course for our university over the next 10+ years. Informing our discussion were the results of the 100 days of listening, current and future healthcare delivery trends, the fiscal environment - both current and what we believe the future holds - as well as the University's current strategic plan.  

We began our two-day excursion into the future by conducting a very insightful, candid and successful team building discussion that included each of us taking the Predictive Index, a scientifically-based assessment that provides leaders and individuals with accurate, actionable data quantifying the unique motivating needs and behavioral drivers that keep people going. The good news is that we have an extraordinarily balanced team, which helps to explain why everyone works so well together and why we have such a very high-performing organization. We then went about the task of reviewing the results of the 100 days of listening and began to set the priorities and goals that will inform the next iteration of our strategic planning cycle. For me, one of the most powerful parts of our off-site was listening the our President's Council member's individual vision for our future.  It's exciting that we are all aligned in the fact that we believe Salus is poised to effectively engage in the nation's debate and discussion on how healthcare will be delivered well into this century and beyond. We are also lockstep in our thinking about how our priorities need to remain on our students, the quality of education we provide as well as faculty and staff development. Central to our thinking was our continued emphasis on community outreach and development of programs that are consistent with setting a high benchmark for inter-professional education and an integrated delivery model of healthcare. 

We are unanimous that our destiny is one of advocacy, innovation and pushing the envelope of what's within the realm of the possible, given the breadth of knowledge, experience and energy our students and faculty bring to the table of American healthcare. I'll provide more detail as the weeks progress but I wanted you to know the high level of energy and alignment that emerged from our off-site. We're all excited about sharing this with all of the University community and working with you towards development of tangible goals and metrics. Have a great week and a safe and restful Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

An Extremely Successful Event

I wanted to take this opportunity to congratulate Sue Oleszewski and her Looking Out For Kids team in making this year's event extremely successful and enjoyable. Philadelphia Eagles legend and Villanova graduate Brian Westbrook and Dr. Janet Samuels, Superintendent of the Norristown Area School District honored us by co-hosting the event. Helping to make the event even more successful was our own Andy Gurwood, who served as our masterful emcee for the evening. I don't think there's a hat he doesn't own (you'd have to have been there to see it!). What a great turnout - over 300 people to include several of our Board of Trustees, many faculty, community leaders and alumni. I understand this is the best attendance over the 7 years we've been doing this wonderful event!  When all was said and done, most of the items up for auction were gone and folks were loading up their cars with all their goodies at the end of the evening (I particularly like the Ryobi tools I won :-)),  thus making this a huge success.

I want to personally thank everyone involved in this great effort, especially our corporate and private sponsors - who without their support and generosity, this never would have been possible. This year we were lucky to have an extra-special participant, local (and very accomplished) artist Elynne Rosenfeld Allenson, who donated one piece of her very beautiful work to the silent auction and contributed 30% of the proceeds for anything she sold during the evenings festivities. Due to popular demand (and the fact that her artwork looks so great in the Hafter Center), Elynne has agreed to keep her work at the Hafter Center for this coming week with the same offer to contribute 30% of her proceeds to the Looking Out For Kids charity!  Thanks Elynne!!!  I would encourage anyone who's local to check out her work.

Finally, as we begin our week at Salus, I will be working closely with the President's Council to complete our preparatory work for the upcoming off-site this coming Thursday and Friday.  I sense a good deal of excitement (at least I know I'm excited about it) about the off-site as we take the input from my 100 Days of Listening, combine that with already established University priorities to forge our path into the future.   I will be sure to keep everyone informed about the progress we make.   Wishing you all a great week!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

There's been lots of press surrounding the new healthcare legislation;  primarily how difficult it has been to access the website and how folks who thought their plans wouldn't change are now faced with having to switch to a more expensive option.  Change is never easy but I strongly believe that this whole debacle could have been avoided if communication would have been more transparent, honest and succinct and greater preparation and thought was put into the actual execution of the website.   This ordeal has been both frustrating and painful to watch as I believe, while not perfect, the legislation moves us in the right direction - with a focus on primary care and wellness.  Time will tell how this will all works out - or not - but I believe we at Salus are well-positioned to help influence the discussion and help to lead the way for how integrated care with a primary care focus should work.  I recently published an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer ( that describes how the Patient Centered Medical Home model has been successfully employed in the Military Health System and should be leveraged more in the civilian sector.  Our programs and clinical facilities at Salus lend themselves to this model.  I'm hoping to partner with one of our local universities to bring primary care to The Eye Institute so we can further validate this model as a national norm.   I will keep you all posted.......

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I've now had the opportunity to present the findings of my "100 Days of Listening" to the university community as well as our Board of Trustee Executive Committee and President's Council.  I can now share the Power Point I presented:
To review what the original task was:
We established 4 Tiger Teams to inform me:
Answer 3 questions
•What 3 things will make this a better place?
•What’s working exceptionally well here?
•What can use improvement?
Groups provide report to me by 25 October
Presidential Vision will be developed based on input from Tiger Teams
What did I hear?
Many things are already working very well: 
Academic reputation of programs and the academic process
Passion and dedication of faculty and staff
Faculty and staff happy with benefits
Congenial work environment
Hafter Center facility and activities
Growth of the institution
Quality of students/residents
Appearance of facilities
Work of the Board of Trustees
Willingness to innovate and change
Scheduling in optometry programs
Technology improvements moving in right direction
Teamwork amongst faculty and staff “exceptional”

What 3 things will make Salus a better place?

     3 main categories:

             Communication - Phones, website, decision making

             Technology - classroom, wireless, phones, keeping up with the times

             Marketing - Salus name (one Salus), association with The Eye and Ear Institutes

             Miscellaneous - classroom ergonomics, library hours, cafe hours, etc.

      In the interest of space, I'm not going to list all the concerns, but rest-assured, there were no surprises and many of the suggestions are already being discussed by leadership here at the university.

      I'm going to take all this great information and use it to inform our strategic planning process that will kick-off when I take our President's Council to an off-site the last week in November.  I'll keep everyone in the loop as we move this forward.

One final note that I think many of you will be interested in.  I've asked Dr. Sue Oleszewski to serve as my Chief of Staff and much to my delight she has accepted this new position.  Starting in December, Sue will move up to the Elkins Park campus to commence her new, expanded duties.  The university and I will greatly benefit from having Sue in this position.  Until next entry....have a great week.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Well, today ends another great week at Salus!  On Tuesday I had the opportunity to participate in some videotaping of what we're calling "vignettes" of student life here at Salus.  The high point for me was having the opportunity to sit down and talk with some of our first year optometry students - totally unplanned.  It was fun to hear how they were adapting to life as a health professional student.  Since our first-year curriculum is fairly rigorous as compared to some of the other programs out there, our students were expressing to me how busy they were but also how they were managing their time and enjoying the program - and even finding time to enjoy some of the great things Philadelphia has to offer.  Brought me back to the good ole days :-).

So, you may be wondering what we're going to do with these vignettes (at least I hope you are).  Well, our Facebook page has a bit anemic so we're going to spice things up and integrate some real student input and experiences.  I'm personally looking forward to seeing the final product.

A high point of the week for me was meeting with the chairs of the Tiger Teams I appointed at the beginning of my 100 days of listening.  Now that the 100 days are over, each team provided me their impressions and answers to the questions I posed back in July:  What's working well at Salus?  What are some of the opportunities and challenges we have at Salus? What's broken and needs to be addressed now?  The good news is there were few surprises.  I've scheduled an "All University" meeting next week to share the results with students and staff.  Once I do that, I'll post the summary on the blog.  Next step will be to work closely with our President's Council to use this great input to inform our strategic plan for the next 3-5 years.  I'm extremely excited about what I've heard and even more so about what we can do with the information.  Stay tuned for more to come on this.

Today we hosted State Senator Mike Folmer from Lancaster County, PA and Pennsylvania Optometric Association President Dr. Bob Owens (a classmate).  We were able to show the senator and Dr. Owens many of the great things that are going on around Salus to include a deep dive into our optometry program, a tour of the Elkins Park campus and a discussion with students and deans from each of the colleges.  Both left with a much better appreciation for what Salus brings not only to our students and local community but also to the state and U.S. healthcare delivery system.

I wish everyone a safe and relaxing Fall weekend.  Don't forget to set your clocks back on Saturday evening!