Posted on July 16, 2019
The Medical Center of South Arkansas has been named among the top workplaces in the state by Arkansas Business magazine, along with 45 other businesses from around the state.
“I would say, as the leader of the organization, it’s an honor and we are excited about the recognition,” said Scott Street, MCSA chief executive officer. “It’s a reflection, I think, of the energy and culture that has been created here … due to a lot of significant effort by our leaders, our Board and our team members.”
When Street took the reins at MCSA in October 2017, one of the first policies he initiated for employees was LSS — look, smile, speak. That policy, directing “team members” (MCSA employees) to always be sure to make eye contact with their co-workers, smile at them and exchange at least a few words, has set the tone for the hospital’s work culture.
“The key things with look, smile, speak is that first impressions are so important, and as we change things, those we serve don’t necessarily see things behind the scenes — new equipment, new ORs (operating rooms), the new things that we create — but they do see us,” Street said. “That’s the difference-maker in health care today is that personal interaction, and that’s why it’s so important.”
From there, Street and HR Director LaKeitha Davis have worked together to develop employee training in areas like customer service and leadership.
Davis and Street take an almost theatrical approach to preparing team members for customer service. At every new employee orientation, which is mandatory for every new team member and physician at MCSA, Davis guides the new team members through a trip to Disney World — in their imagination.
The team members imagine themselves visiting Disney and receiving poor service. Disney, having some of the strictest rules for cast members dealing with the public, draws a hard line between acceptable front stage and backstage behavior; Davis’ goal is to show how important that hard line is for MCSA team members as well.
“A lot of emotion goes on during these orientations,” Davis said. “We always say ‘we’ve got to be Snow White today. Make sure you have your Snow White face, because Snow White knows how to separate the front stage and the backstage; when you finish, you go front stage [and] customer service and creating a wonderful experience for your customers is most important. … Our patients are the most important people here and the experience for them and their family members and their visitors — we want to make sure they can come back. They have choices, and we want to make sure they come back.”
Street personally leads monthly team forums, where team members have the opportunity to interface directly with him and MCSA leadership officials. The forums are general meetings where Street discusses hospital business, his continued vision for health care in this area and then conducts a question and answer session. Team members’ direct supervisors do not attend the forums, so it gives them an opportunity to be open with the company’s highest leadership.
“I’d want them to argue with me if they don’t think so, but I do think it’s a key ingredient. You do read, within different organizations that are called best-class organizations or world-class organizations, there is that transparency between the workforce, or team members, and executives, the CEOs,” Street said. “I do enjoy doing it, that’s another part of it.”
MCSA also has a program to develop their team members into leaders. The LDI, leadership development institute, is a program designed to help team members elevated to middle management or higher leadership positions grow into their role as managers.
Street explained that a lot of people, while qualified to be a nurse, doctor or other health care professional, do not have management experience or the skills needed to lead a group while keeping morale high. LDI’s role is to give them those skills.
“I like to brag about, we do try to promote within. We try to grow our leaders from within,” Davis said. “We start with the family first, and we’ve done an exceptional job with that the last few years, just promoting our current staff. … If you want to join a winning team, come see us.”
Street is a man with a vision. His primary goal is to give every patient and their families a positive experience, which is why he has implemented so many programs to help grow team members’ skills since he took over at MCSA.
“It’s all about creating experiences. We want to create an experience with those we serve so that we’re not just treating a patient, but we’re creating an experience for each patient and guest that comes on our campus,” he said.
He also wants to grow the health care industry in the area. He said that when he started at MCSA, the state of health care for El Dorado, and by extension Union County, had greatly diminished — the old Warner Brown hospital had closed and trust in MCSA was way down.
He went to community leaders to share his vision and has worked to implement it since. A large part of his vision has centered around growing the services offered at MCSA — in the past two years, new neonatal and newborn services and a program to treat opioid withdrawal have been added, the hospital has undergone extensive renovations and a possible cancer center is in the works. Street also said the hospital is considering re-opening the Warner Brown campus for a comprehensive mental health treatment center.
“In days past, Warner Brown and this hospital were two thriving organizations, and then over time, it has dwindled to just this one hospital, and there’s a lot of out-migration that occurs because of this,” Street said. “What we’re doing is bringing that back — we’re bringing back services that left years ago, we’re bringing back providers that left years ago. And in this growth-mode that we’re in, I think it does play big into the culture that we’re creating … We want to be that hub of health care in South Arkansas — not just Union County, not just five counties, but South Arkansas.”
MCSA recently implemented a ‘My Hospital initiative.’ Davis said including team members in the company’s vision and growth allows them to take ownership of their jobs and feel proud of the work they do.
“One thing that Scott talks about during our new team member orientation is being a renter versus being an owner. If you rent something, oh, you don’t really want to take care of it. When you own it, you’re passionate about it, you want it to look good and you want to show it to the public. He (Street) has taught us and our new team members and our current team members to be owners. I’ve seen a lot of that change, from renting to owner,” Davis said. “It gives you pride. Just look at this place — who could not be proud of this?”
MCSA has a 94 percent employee retention rate. While Street said it can be hard to recruit, the programs offered by the hospital have helped.
In addition to their training programs, MCSA offers tuition reimbursement to both full- and part-time team members after 90 days of employment. They also offer an Employee Assistance Program, where team members are able to undergo up to five free therapy sessions with total privacy from their other co-workers.
MCSA will be represented at a September awards ceremony for their recognition. The hospital will hold their own internal celebration this week, with high fives all around — from the CEO to the greenest CNA.
“A lot of hospitals are striving to be more than just a sterile, cold hospital. They’re trying to make it a warmer, more welcoming environment,” Street said. “That raises our bar. That just keeps raising the bar that we’ve got to find different ways to be creative, innovative and a place that people feel comfortable.”
The SHARE Foundation was also recognized by Arkansas Business for their workplace culture.
Caitlan Butler can be reached at 870-862-6611 or email@example.com.