Sylvester’s Kendall Director Newest UHealth “Fire Starter”

Nobody likes chemotherapy, but patient Joaquin Hernandez is grateful he receives the treatment at Sylvester’s Comprehensive Treatment Center in Kendall. “If you have to come, this is where you want to come,’’ Hernandez said. “The service is great. The nurses are the best.’’

His sentiment is shared by so many of the Kendall satellite’s patients that the unit earned the highest patient satisfaction scores in Press Ganey surveys for four consecutive months. CTU Director Jacqueline Cereijo, D.N.P., M.B.A., R.N., planned to celebrate that achievement with a cake for her staff when Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., and Michele Chulick, executive director of clinical operations and associate vice president for UHealth, rounded at the unit on June 1. But the Dean turned the tables on Cereijo, presenting her with the fourth “fire starter” pin bestowed at UHealth for inspiring her staff to make patient satisfaction such a priority that it is now second nature, or in the parlance of the Studer Group, “hardwired.”

“This is the highest honor in recognition of great achievement in patient satisfaction and quality of care delivered to patients,’’ Dean Goldschmidt told Cereijio as he pinned the small, bronze flame on her jacket.

“We thank you for all of your hard work,’’ Chulick added. “We thank your entire team. It’s a wonderful recognition of all the success you’ve had and we appreciate it from the bottom of our hearts.’’

Cereijo joins three other officially recognized UHealth “fire starters,” a term Quint Studer, president and CEO of the consulting group that is helping UHealth create and sustain patient-centric excellence through its UCare initiative, borrowed from ancient civilizations. As Studer notes, “fire starters taught others how to keep the flame alive. If they were successful, the tribe lived. If they were not, the tribe died.’’

In addition to Cereijo, Maria R. Cabrera, M.S.N., M.A., R.N., director of perioperative services at Sylvester; Marie Dowd, R.N., nurse director of the cardiovascular step-down and cardiac telemetry units at University of Miami Hospital; and Levi DeCotto, R.N., nurse director of UMH’s penthouse floor, have engineered such transformative and sustained improvements that patient satisfaction scores have rocketed above the 90th percentile in their areas.

Today, under Cabrera’s leadership, 86 percent of the first out-patient surgeries of the day at Sylvester start within five minutes of their scheduled times, up from less than 20 percent when the UHealth system was established.

Quint Studer was so impressed with Cabrera’s motivating energy and ability to communicate and enlist physicians and staff in meeting the OR first case, on-time starts and other UCare goals that he recognized her as UHealth’s first fire starter – taking a pin from his lapel and pinning it on her lab coat – while rounding with the Dean, Chulick and other Sylvester leadership in February. Later, he sent a videographer to film Cabrera for a Studer Group training video on best practices related to on-time starts, patient satisfaction and overall leadership engagement and communication.

UHealth leadership honored Dowd, who fueled a six-month run of patient satisfaction scores above the 90th percentile, with their first fire starter pin on April 26, two weeks before she was recognized with the administrative leader award at UMH’s Third Annual Nurse of the Year Awards Ceremony.

“Her rigor and passion for providing each patient with very good care is noted in everything she does,’’ said David Zambrana, chief operating officer and chief nursing officer at UMH. “Dean Goldschmidt and Michele Chulick, along with the hospital leadership team, awarded Marie this award of distinction as a means of recognizing her contribution to the lives of the individuals she and her team serve.’’

In just three months, DeCotto, a UHealth newcomer, has turned UMH’s penthouse floor from a grim and cluttered place employees avoided into an inviting one where they are clamoring to work. The transformation is evidenced by the warm touches – the welcome sign, plants, flowers and art work that DeCotto installed – as well as the floor’s patient satisfaction scores, which Dean Goldschmidt noted have gone from mediocre to outstanding.

“It’s a phenomenal accomplishment,’’ the Dean said, before affixing DeCotto’s fire starter pin on May 24. “If I had to be hospitalized, this is where I’d want to be.’’

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