Hugh Chatham's IT department scores high marks for giving employees the freedom to be innovative and creative


Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital CEO David Loving doesn't just use a couple laudatory adjectives when he describes his hospital's IT department; he produces a high-velocity stream of praise. "They're can-do, action-oriented, focused, very goal- and mission-oriented, customer-friendly, effective, and they really understand how vital a role they play."
For the second year in a row, employees have ranked the hospital IT department as the No. 1 best small hospital IT department in the country.
Part of the IT department's high marks comes from the freedom each employee is given to be innovative and creative – a workplace philosophy CIO Lee Powe stresses as the foremost reason for his department's high morale and effectiveness.
"All are allowed the freedom to be flexible and creative to solve issues. Staff members are empowered and trusted to prioritize their work schedule," he wrote in an email. With this flexibility, he added, everyone enjoys his or her job more.
Kevin Stainback, the hospital's systems analyst, particularly appreciates the latitude he has to do his work.

"Lee treats us each individually and allows us to take on a lot of responsibility for our projects, kind of as if we are our own entity," he said.

At the same time, the team provides one another with support to ease workload burdens. The team convenes every Monday for a roundtable to hear updates on others' projects and schedules, and to determine who needs extra assistance.
Powe also makes a point of using the first hour of every day to find out privately who is having professional or personal issues. "I set aside time to speak with (that employee) and provide support if needed," he wrote. "In preventing stress, I almost always approve time off that is requested."
This good cheer is not just found in the hospital's IT department. Positivity permeates the whole hospital environment, according to Stainback.

"From the first time you walk in the front door, and meet the person at the switchboard, to the person I walk past six times a day, it's always like the first time I've seen them in a while," he said. "We'll always say, 'Hi'."
That teamwork, rapport and positivity has enabled the small IT team to make clinical information available and easily accessible for all the hospital's providers and its 10 off-site physician practices, according to Loving. "We have multiple systems that talk to each other, all with the goal of supporting high-quality care. The whole team can now coordinate care."
He said the team consistently "stays focused on users, and the performance is constantly above expectations to support the hospital mission to be the best community hospital in the country, with service as our guiding principal."


Teamwork, rapport and positivity let this small IT team make clinical information available and easily accessible for the hospital's providers and its 10 off-site physician practices.



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