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Excellence: It Starts With Your Staff Part 1

Image Above: Patti and Danny Meyer NYC 2008

Inspiration and great ideas for hospice management often come from surprising sources. For instance, what could we in hospice possibly learn from a top-flight New York restaurateur like Danny Meyer? As it turns out, plenty - especially if we’re looking for insight on how to find and keep great staff.

I shouldn’t have been surprised by how much similarity there is in our respective fields; after all, “hospice” and “hospitality” both spring from the same Latin root – and we’re both in the business of providing comfort and welcome to strangers. And, as is true in the kinds of high-end dining places Meyers has created – restaurants like Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke, The Modern, and even The Shake Shack, - our patients’ experiences hinge on the quality of their interactions with our front-line staff. Truly, staff members are the face and heart of our organizations -...

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March Madness

March is the teasing harbinger of spring, when the saying “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb” could easily be flipped by the fickle weather. March was the month of my brother’s birthday, which meant a party on or about the 24th.  March, a transition month from the solid cold of February to the dancing colors of April, can start out quiet, then suddenly, BANG!  You are picking up the pieces from the storm. And then…March is gone. Madness, really.

In my hometown of Gainesville, Florida, March is madness for another reason; it’s round ball, college hoops time! There is madness in the air and it is not due to the weather. It goes without saying that I’m a fan – it’s practically a civic duty – but one team in particular holds a special place in my heart; the Gator Boys of 2006.

Back in ‘06, our team was made up of a bunch of kids who loved to play the game of basketball.  They were a...

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Moore Mission Moments: On the Death of a Tree

Image Above: Our grand daddy live oak on the ground

I’ve always loved trees. I loved climbing trees as a kid.  We had our favorite "big tree" where my friends would meet, a giant live oak that had grown up around a telephone pole.  As elementary school kids we would ride our bikes to the "big tree” and climb up its enormous, gentle trunk. Then the brave ones would slide down the telephone pole, splinters and all.  Mostly we sat on its outstretched branches and just enjoyed the world from that lofty perch.

The first poem I memorized was Joyce Kilmer's Trees; "I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree."  I’ve even made a pilgrimage the Joyce Kilmer National Forest in western North Carolina (Did I mention I love trees?).

My husband and I live on a beautiful wooded property outside Gainesville, FL.  We are surrounded by enormous live oaks whose branches defy gravity, reaching out to embrace the Light, paralleling the earth with...

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The Purpose-Driven CEO: 5 Steps For Finding Your Next Leader

2017 ceo driven hospice purpose Feb 16, 2017

A big part of what I do is executive matchmaking, helping hospices connect with leaders who can pilot them safely through the shifting seas to the future. For those of you who are knee-deep in the search process, or who foresee an executive search in your future, here are some of the things I’ve learned in the 30+ years I’ve spent as a hospice leader, consultant and recruiter.

  1. Today’s hospice CEO/ED must understand not only the clinical operations of the organization, but also the business end. That doesn’t mean that candidates must have an MBA, but it does mean they must understand financials, profit and loss statements, and gross returns on investment. Candidates must also understand what it takes to provide enlightened customer service, inspire a culture of caring and accountability, and have an unwavering focus on quality care, while being innovative and realistic.
  2. The CEO/ED must be a big picture visionary while understanding the demands of day-to-day...
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Intentions vs. Goals

I have been thinking a lot about intentions: Merriam Webster dictionary defines intention as “a determination to act in a certain way”, and goal as “the end to which effort is directed”. When I ask myself what my intentions for the day/week/year are, versus what my goals are, I come up with very different answers.

Last week, I had a few days in my office. My desk was overflowing with documents that were once urgent but had now become simply interesting and the mountains of paper threatened to topple at any moment. My goal was to bring some order to my office work space, and maybe even catch a glimpse of the lovely maple desktop buried deep under the detritus. 

I confess, that has been my goal for over a year!  But the difference this week was my intention.  I was determined not to get frustrated or impatient with the task, or let myself be beguiled into doing something I enjoy more (like connecting with my clients and colleagues)....

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High Performance

          Every couple of years, I get the irresistible urge to change things up; to try something new, to push myself past my previous limitations – in short, to grow. I had a business growth spurt that pushed me to publish a book, and a spiritual growth spurt engaging in the Alembic Program offered by the Kaiser Institute. I embraced the Paleo diet about four years ago to take back control of my health; no sugar, grain or dairy! I’ve always been the kind of person who’d rather be a little overwhelmed than bored. I’m frankly not sure whether that’s a good or a less-good way to go, but it’s always been my style and it’s served me well.

            2017 found me hankering for my next opportunity to go bigger. That chance presented itself when my friend and webmaster Chad Barr invited my husband and me to be his guest at a four-day...

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Ms. Melanie

In hospice, we don’t have anything to sell other than the services we provide. We don’t make a product; we don’t offer goods or trade. What we offer is love and care to people who are dying, and to their loved ones.

Generally, the first order of hospice business is relieving someone’s physical suffering; we give them morphine and the pain (hopefully) goes away. It can be more challenging to relieve someone’s spiritual and emotional suffering. Put it all together: You have a dying person in pain, struggling with the unanswerable question, “Why me?” and a family fractured with grief and in spiritual anguish. The sum of all these is human suffering, not just a health crisis, and it’s our calling to ease it by caring for our fellow beings, empowering them to live their lives fully until they die.

When people speak of hospice and the gallant work they do, who do you think they’re talking about?  For me, it’s Melanie...

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A Day In the Life

Image Above: HopeWest Care Center

We live in a world where healthcare leaders must move as fast as they can to keep up with the changes that confront them daily.  It is easy to get so caught up in the budget shortfalls, the regulations, the competition and so much more, that the actual work done by the hospice staff may be overlooked.

My friend Christy Whitney Bourchard, CEO at HopeWest in Grand Junction, Colorado sent me this story written by one of their nurses working in their Hospice Care Center (HCC). I was struck by her honesty and eloquence in sharing a day in her life at work. It is a beautiful reminder of the fact that death is so much more than a medical event. Hospice workers face multiple losses and deaths every day while supporting families through one of life’s most difficult times, then they must try to cope with their own emotions over what they have witnessed.

The author, hospice nurse Barb Hedges said late one night she wrote down her thoughts from that...

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Re-Imagining Hospice

The San Francisco Examiner announced their 2016 Reader's Choice Winners, naming Zen Hospice Project "Best Hospice Care" in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Chosen by thousands of Examiner readers in northern California, these polls took place earlier this summer. You can read the story about this organization here (check out page 26).

I find it fascinating that in 2016, across all of the sprawling San Francisco Bay Area, it was the Zen Hospice Project that was selected as providing the Best Hospice Care.  Congratulations to them, as they have not forgotten what "Hospice" means...a way station for the weary traveler offering comfort and care for the body, mind and spirit. They interpret hospice as a noun, rather than a verb. They are not a Medicare Certified hospice; they do not fall under the strict rules and regulations of Medicare or Medicaid.

The Zen Hospice Project contracts with area Medicare Certified hospices for care of their patients in their Hospice Guest House....

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The Abundant Future

I hear it every day from the leaders in the not-for-profit hospice world: We’re losing ground. Caught between a rock – reduced federal dollars – and a hard place – the crushing proliferation of regulations – hospice leaders are adopting a bunker mentality, hunkering down to provide the basics to those in their care, while forced to let go of many of the extra services that bring comfort and meaning to their final days. It looks grim – yet I can’t help but feel like we’ve been here before.

There weren’t a lot of resources for us at the start of the hospice movement – and no Federal money for hospice – but there was enthusiasm, and partnership within the communities we served. We cobbled together alliances, trained volunteers, worked with what we had, and made life better for dying people and their loved ones.

When I look at where we are today, what occurs to me is this: What might we be able to accomplish, if we more...

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