Where Are They Now? A Conversation with Past HCIF Intern Adams Ako, MD, MPH

April 20, 2022

April is National Internship Awareness Month and to celebrate, HCIF interviewed some of our past interns to find out what they have been up to since completing their internships with us and how their time at HCIF helped them grow in their professional careers.

We were delighted to catch up with Adams Ako, MD MPH, who interned with HCIF from fall 2019 to spring 2020. During his time at HCIF, Adams helped support the Pennsylvania Urologic Regional Collaborative (PURC) program, which is a quality improvement initiative aimed at advancing the quality of diagnosis and care for men with prostate cancer. Currently, Adams works as a Clinical Research Coordinator in the Neonatology Department at Cohen Children’s Medical Center and the Feinstein Institutes of Medical Research for Northwell Health.

What are you doing now, and what excites you most about your current work?

I work with experienced clinical and laboratory researchers at Northwell, who are advancing medical knowledge and leading innovation every day. It is exciting to be on this path, experiencing first-hand how new scientific knowledge is generated and how that is translated into improved clinical outcomes for patients.

What did you find most valuable about working with HCIF? What’s something you learned from your internship with us?

It was by far the mentorship. The opportunity to undertake research projects with the Clinical Improvement team and physician-researchers at the Pennsylvania Urologic Regional Collaborative (PURC) was an invaluable learning experience. There was also the opportunity to present our research at scientific meetings. The exposure was incredible and I saw how effort committed to clinical research can yield meaningful, useful results.

What’s a quote that inspires you in your work?

“Make incremental progress, change comes not by the yard, but by the inch.”

If we were to check back in with you in 5 years, where would you like to be?

I’d be starting pediatrics residency this summer. ​So, in 5 years, I hope to be in fellowship or working as an attending, more likely the former.

Do you have any favorite hobbies? Is there a place you would like to travel to?

I love to watch soccer. I also like to read a good, fun book every now and then— I’m currently reading “Midlife” by Kieran Setiya. For a travel destination, I would like to visit Italy. I’d like to see Florence and Venice.

Call for Entries Now Open for 2022 Safety & Quality Award Program!

April 11, 2022

The Health Care Improvement Foundation (HCIF) is proud to have hosted the Delaware Valley Patient Safety and Quality Award for the past 20 years. The Award program is one of the unique ways in which HCIF promotes and disseminates best practices in health care patient safety and quality throughout the region. At HCIF, we are committed to supporting a healthcare system that is just, equitable, and high quality. This year, we are expanding our call for submissions and invite improvement teams to submit their most innovative patient safety and quality improvement initiatives that seek to embed patient and family engagement and/or health equity (e.g., focused on underserved communities; addressed healthcare disparities in our health system; etc). Additionally, we continue to welcome initiatives that pertain to COVID-19 response and workforce wellness.

Organizations that contribute to HCIF’s Partnership for Patient Care (PPC) program — whether freestanding or within a multi-entity system — are eligible to submit up to 4 entries for projects undertaken at each site. In addition, a healthcare system may submit up to 4 entries for system-wide projects that span multiple sites. All entries will be submitted via a web-based platform (linked here) and will be judged on specific criteria, outlined on page two of the linked PDF found below. We are again inviting clinical, quality/safety, and administrative leaders from regional healthcare organizations to serve as judges and participate in the initial review of award entries in Summer 2022. Entries must be submitted online by May 27, 2022.

Please click here for further details. If you have any questions about this year’s award process, please contact Cassidy Tarullo, ctarullo@hcifonline.org.

Partner Profile: A Conversation with Dr. Jeremy Souder and Eileen Jaskuta

Liz Owens, MS

March 29, 2022

The Health Care Improvement Foundation’s (HCIF) Partner Profiles highlight the efforts of valued and innovative health leaders. Our partners’ work supports HCIF’s vision of healthier communities through equitable, accessible, and quality health care.

In celebration of Patient Safety Awareness Week (March 13 – March 19) this month, we’re excited to feature the Chair and Vice Chair of HCIF’s Clinical Advisory Committee to learn more about what patient safety means to them and what they see as the most important priorities in patient safety today.

Jeremy Souder, MD, MBA, serves as the Associate Chief Medical Officer for Clinical Excellence and Patient Safety Officer at Pennsylvania Hospital of Penn Medicine and serves as Chair of HCIF’s Clinical Advisory Committee.

Eileen Jaskuta, MSHA, BSN, RN, serves as the System Vice President Quality and Patient Safety at Main Line Health and currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Clinical Advisory Committee.

HCIF’s Clinical Advisory Committee is the voluntary expert panel of health care providers and partners from organizations across Southeastern Pennsylvania that identifies the region’s quality and patient safety priorities and provides clinical guidance to HCIF and its Board of Directors. Additionally, the Clinical Advisory Committee plays a key role in advising the Partnership for Patient Care (PPC) and its programs, such as the Health Equity Data Strategy Collaborative, Safe Table, Delaware Valley Patient Safety & Quality Awards, and Leadership Summit.

Both of you serve in key roles on HCIF’s Clinical Advisory Committee that oversees the Partnership for Patient Care (PPC), which just celebrated its 15 year anniversary last year. What do you consider to be the greatest benefits and accomplishments of PPC during your tenure on the Committee?

Dr. Souder: The PPC convenes a broad regional community around the shared mission to make patient care more equitable, safe, and effective. In particular, I feel that the Safe Table Program and the Patient Safety and Quality Award Program create learning communities that foster the development of a shared understanding of challenges, opportunities, and solutions identified by leaders in our region’s healthcare organizations.

Eileen: I have served on the Advisory Committee several times throughout my career, but my most recent tenure has been 5 years.  I have always found that the greatest benefit of PPC is the sharing of best practices in the region and the opportunity to participate in collaboratives to advance quality of care.

This month, we’re celebrating Patient Safety Awareness Week from March 13-19, 2022. Given the many changes and challenges that have been encountered by healthcare systems over the past two years, what do you see as the most important priorities in patient safety today?

Dr. Souder: I see the ongoing workforce challenges, the care for patients simultaneously coping with behavioral health and other medical conditions, the course of the pandemic, and striving for equity in our care outcomes to be the key priorities.

Eileen: The most important priorities in patient safety today really focus on two things in my mind – getting back to the basics and including equity in the work of patient safety.

What is one key thing you’d like the public, or someone not in healthcare, to understand about patient safety and the role it serves in our communities and the healthcare system as a whole?

Dr. Souder: That it depends on people caring for people—trust, mutual respect, concern, and compassion—in 360 degrees, as much as it depends on process improvement, data, and technical improvements.

Eileen: The role that patient safety provides is to be preoccupied with failure to ensure safety for the patients we serve, and to develop interventions to prevent safety events from occurring.

“The most important priorities in patient safety today really focus on two things in my mind – getting back to the basics and including equity in the work of patient safety.”

Eileen Jaskuta

How did you become interested in patient safety?  What are your greatest accomplishments within your field so far (in other words, what are you most proud of)?

Dr. Souder: In my junior year of internal medicine residency, I began to feel disenchanted with my chosen profession. I saw how hard everyone was working, smart people were, how closely they paid attention, and how much they cared…and yet people got hurt, or didn’t get what I wanted us to be able to give them. 

Then I learned about the field of patient safety, and that there was another way to think about caring for people than the one I’d learned in my textbooks, and it gave me hope. I realized that understanding physiology, anatomy, and pathophysiology and pharmacology were necessary, but not sufficient, to achieve the outcomes we all pursue. 

I’m immensely proud that we, as a field, are grappling with challenges of high reliability, continuing with impatient determination to get better at what we do together for patients. I’m also inspired to see that now, when I bring up concepts like systems error, or the “Swiss Cheese Model” on rounds, students always nod their heads in recognition—they understand these core concepts before they get to their clinical training, and I see them engaging more regularly in ways I don’t remember seeing a decade ago. This gives me great hope! 

Eileen: I was always interested in providing great care and patient safety was naturally a part of providing great care. I also had family members impacted by patient safety events and knew that we in healthcare could and should do better by our patients. I think much has been accomplished over the years in patient safety. Transparency and disclosure were critical to those accomplishments because we could learn from one another to make lasting improvements.

I learned about the field of patient safety, and that there was another way to think about caring for people than the one I’d learned in my textbooks, and it gave me hope.

Dr. Jeremy Souder

You have supported HCIF’s work through numerous PPC programs (including but not limited to the Health Equity Data Strategy Collaborative, Delaware Valley Patient Safety and Quality Award Program, and Safe Community) over the years. What do you think makes HCIF unique? What is something you’ve learned through our partnership?

Dr. Souder: What makes HCIF unique is its ability to convene different regional stakeholders around the shared aim of delivering excellent care to everyone in need.

What is a quote that inspires you in your work?

Dr. Souder: “Every system is perfectly designed to get the results that it gets.”

If you are interested in connecting with our partners on LinkedIn, you can find Jeremy Souder here and Eileen Jaskuta here.  

Something that you may not know about Dr. Souder is that his favorite hobbies consist of water sports—whether that’s winter or summer water sports, he enjoys both! Eileen shared that things she likes to do for fun include hiking, learning how to golf, and watching college basketball!

Recognizing Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month with Go to Know

Cassidy Tarullo

March 29, 2022

Colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable and treatable types of cancer, yet is the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the United States. Black Americans have the highest incidence and mortality rates, with death rates 40% higher than other racial or ethnic groups. Disparities in cancer rates can often be attributed to barriers to cancer prevention, detection, and treatment, all of which can be connected to systemic racial disparities in factors such as social determinants of health.

To combat this disparity, WURD Radio, Independence Blue Cross, the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, Penn Medicine, and LabCorp, partnered to launch, “Go to Know” in March 2021. Facilitated by HCIF, the goal of this initiative was to improve colorectal cancer screening rates among African Americans in Philadelphia. Screening is the most effective way to prevent or detect early stages of colorectal cancer, when it is most treatable. Through Go to Know, colorectal cancer screening FIT kits were distributed to WURD’s Radio audience. The FIT test is a simple and effective at-home stool-based test that can detect blood in the stool, an early indicator of colorectal cancer.

The Go to Know initiative was promoted by WURD through on-air interviews with physician experts, discussions by radio hosts with colorectal cancer survivors, social media campaigns, and other in-person promotional events, such as WURD’s Founder’s Day. The WURD website led listeners to a Colorectal Cancer Alliance patient navigator, who then assessed individuals’ risk of cancer and answered questions about the screening process. LabCorp distributed the kits to those who were deemed appropriate, and also managed the processing of any returned kits and securely sending results to providers. Any individual deemed high-risk or who received a positive FIT Kit result was referred to Penn Medicine for a colonoscopy.

During a six-month period:  

  • 145 FIT Kits were distributed, and 47 FIT Kits were completed and returned to LabCorp.
  • 11 symptomatic individuals were routed to medical consult, and 1 follow-up colonoscopy was completed due to being identified as high-risk.
  • Tens of thousands of individuals were reached and educated about the importance of colorectal cancer screening as a result of the campaign.

These results were achieved during the height of the COVID pandemic and thus we anticipate that future programs may have even more impactful outcomes. This program illustrates the power of innovative collaborations to save lives and reduce disparities in cancer screening and serves as a model for future prevention initiatives.

Health Care Improvement Foundation Welcomes Five New Board Members

March 14, 2022

The Health Care Improvement Foundation is pleased to announce the election of five new members to its talented Board of Directors. The new Board members are Vanessa Benton, MBA, Michelle Burroughs, Ed.D., Joanne Craig, MS, Allison Hess, MBA, and Norman Weinstein, Esq. These new appointees represent several professional sectors and will bring a breadth of knowledge and experience to HCIF. Together, they will work to advance HCIF’s key initiatives with a focus on, clinical quality, patient safety, and population and community health.  

“We are excited to welcome our new board members,” said Wendy Nickel, President, Health Care Improvement Foundation. “Each of them provides our board with a unique background and perspective and we look forward to their expertise and guidance this year, especially as we implement new strategic priorities, with a special emphasis on health equity.”

New Board Members:

Vanessa Benton, MBA is the Deputy Chief of School Planning and Space Management for The School District of Philadelphia, where she manages a strategic process to provide solutions to schools’ facility and utilization challenges.

Michelle Burroughs Ed.D. is the Vice President, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) at WSFS Bank. Dr. Burroughs has almost 20 years of experience in building and leading collaborative environments with a focus on diversity initiatives.

Joanne Craig, MS is the Chief Impact Officer at The Foundation for Delaware County, where she administers their public health programs and grant making services. Her work in public health, nonprofit management, and philanthropy spans several decades and has positively impacted tens of thousands of families in Delaware County.

Allison Hess, MBA is the Vice President of Health Innovations for Geisinger, which is one of biggest health services organizations in the country. Her work includes oversight and implementation of health and wellness programs as well as creating community based strategies that impact food insecurity and related social determinants of health.
Norman Weinstein, Esq. is Of Counsel at Galfand Berger, LLP and he has practiced Workers’ Compensation and Social Security law for over 36 years. The Secretary of Health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania recently appointed Mr. Weinstein to the Pennsylvania Department of Health Equity’s Advisory Committee, as he works towards building a relationship between public health and public interest law.

Additionally, new officers were recently elected to lead the Board for the next two years. Patricia Sullivan, PhD serves as the new Board Chair. She is the Chief Quality Officer at the University of Pennsylvania Health System where she is responsible for clinical effectiveness and quality improvement efforts. Natalie Levkovich, HCIF’s new Board Vice Chair, is Executive Director of the Health Federation of Philadelphia, a position she has held since 1987.

“I am deeply honored to have been elected to lead the HCIF Board of Directors. HCIF is uniquely qualified to support healthcare organizations in achieving better care, improved access, and health equity. I look forward to leveraging our partnerships, along with our talented and capable team, to achieve HCIF’s vision of healthier communities through equitable, accessible, and quality health care,” said Sullivan.  

The Health Care Improvement Foundation (HCIF), hcifonline.org, was founded to support a responsive, coordinated health care delivery system that fulfills the needs of patients and consumers, and achieves better health. Through large-scale collaboration HCIF works with health systems, community based organizations, payors and a variety of other stakeholders to find solutions to complex healthcare challenges, which any one stakeholder could not achieve alone. Since its inception, HCIF has worked with numerous organizations to improve quality of care, health equity, patient safety, and population health issues such as, COVID-19, perinatal care, readmissions, cancer, workplace violence, food insecurity, trauma informed care, and health literacy.

Board Profile: A Conversation with Chaudron Carter-Short, PhD, EdD, RN, NEA-BC

February 28, 2022

In honor of Black History Month, HCIF would like to recognize and amplify the work of Black health care professionals in our region. We are proud to share insights from an interview with Chaudron Carter Short, PhD, EdD, RN, NEA-BC, Chief Nursing Officer & Vice President of Patient Care Services at Temple University Hospital’s Episcopal & Northeastern Campuses. Chaudron has been a member of HCIF’s Board of Directors since January 2020. 

What drove you to pursue a career in healthcare?

My mother always worked in a hospital and as a single mom, she sometimes brought me to work with her. She recommended I go into nursing, but when it came time for college, I chose to go for pharmacy.  However, I realized I didn’t really enjoy being in a lab as a college student and decided to change trajectories to nursing. It sounds cliché’, but I love helping people so nursing was the perfect choice. Prior to becoming a nurse, I was always a nurturer; it was kind of a passion for me. I found nursing fascinating and engaging very early on.

What are some of your responsibilities in your current role?

In my current role as the Chief Nursing Officer & Vice President of Patient Care Services, I have the responsibility and oversight for the nursing department. In my role some of my obligations include vision setting for the department, establishment of best practices for patient care, regulatory compliance, and to ensure there is a strong line of communication between the Chief Nursing Officer and my team. My team is essential to my role, as I have the responsibility of helping them develop and to realize their potential as clinicians and leaders.

During this past year, my team and I had to manage in the face of crisis. In order to be the person that my team looked upon during the height of COVID, it’s been important for me to take the time to de-compress and take care of myself. I enjoy reading, working out, and spending time with family/friends to help me overcome the stressors that have been associated with each COVID wave.

What has been your proudest professional achievement?

My proudest professional achievement was attaining Magnet status for Temple University Health System. Prior to that, I worked as a clinical director at another facility and was looking for a new and different challenge. When I went to Temple in 2015 to support the Magnet journey, some of my colleagues thought the idea was wild. I admit, there were many obstacles and bumps in the road, which made getting Magnet status that much more pleasurable.  We were actually designated Magnet with exemplars (which are additional accolades you can receive by appraisers). The most gratifying reward was when one of my prior cynics that originally doubted me, came to personally visit me and said, “if anyone could do it, I knew you could.”

What is a recent memorable experience you have had as a healthcare professional?

When the pandemic hit, we had to build a full COVID hospital in a different building by moving all ancillary services out of the building to make space.  We took care of about 300 COVID patients in that building. The teamwork and collaboration that took place to provide exceptional care for patients was awe-inspiring. Temple received most of the COVID patients in Philadelphia and had the highest number of patients with the best outcomes. We postponed elective procedures/surgeries, and the nursing staff from those areas, developed a team model concept to care for the COVID patients. Staff were on the units with the sickest of the sick, when patients could not have visitors or could not speak with their loved ones, nurses went above and beyond by providing technology (sometimes their own personal devices) to connect patients with family members. The staff was fearful and exhausted, but you never heard one complaint. The team made sure no person was left alone and as a leader this is what nursing is all about.

What inspires you?

I get inspired by really helping others, especially helping others to achieve a goal through mentorship and support.

What is something you’ve learned being a part of the HCIF Board?

I’ve learned that there’s an opportunity to learn about other organizations across the region. The HCIF Board provides an opportunity to break down silos among healthcare organizations to share and educate. I am enjoying helping to grow HCIF and I’m especially encouraged by HCIF’s desire to diversify the Board of Directors.

When you’re not busy working to improve the lives of others, what do you like to do?

I enjoy being with family/friends, watching TV, reading, playing games, and weight training. I have a daughter who is 27 and a son through marriage who has a 1-year-old. My grandson is the highlight of some of my weekends.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I used to be a competitive figure bodybuilder; when I’m stressed, I need to work out and I try to do it most mornings.