For more than 14 years, Copper Ridge Surgery Center (CRSC) in Traverse City has offered patients in Northern Michigan expert surgical care in a non-hospital setting under a wide umbrella of specialties. Chief Executive Officer LoAnn Vande Leest leads the CRSC team with an ultimate goal: to be recognized both regionally and nationally as the place for outpatient surgery and the place to work.

This last May in Orlando, CRSC’s Patient Experience Initiative was named one of 12 Intalere Healthcare Achievement Award winners. Copper Ridge Surgery Center won in the “Quality/Patient Care Delivery and/or Patient Satisfaction” category alongside health care facilities in Wilmington, North Carolina and Staten Island, New York.

Designed by Mark VanderKlipp from Connect_CX, and displayed prominently in a thoroughfare of the surgery center, the Patient Experience Initiative is a giant navigational tool comprised of every moment of every patient’s visit. As CRSC Clinical Administrative Assistant, Laurie Olson, notes, “It’s not just the surgery that patients remember, it’s all the little things that happen in between.”

Indeed, every step, from diagnosis to parking, to anesthesia to family waiting has at its center the patient. And the map shows how the patient is supported at every turn by a groundswell of engaged, smart and happy staff.

Case in point: CRSC staffers Stefany Comeaux (Endoscopy Team Leader) and Tricia Wollam (Total Joint Program Coordinator). The duo helped craft the initiative—behind the scenes and above and beyond their regular duties. Vande Leest says Comeaux and Wollam became “patient experience officers” in the process, asking every department for input. Now, each person who works at the surgery center can see precisely where he or she falls in the patient experience. And, says Vande Leest, “that that they contribute to something bigger.”

Today, the award-winning roadmap is a way of life for the staff. But Comeaux and Wollam didn’t rest on their laurels. They co-created a staff pledge highlighting personal conduct with patients and with each other. Each team member signs a detailed promise to: be accountable, show respect, practice stewardship, demonstrate compassion, work as a team and reinforce safety.

“We provide an environment for health care professionals to apply their skills in a manner that is valued,” Vande Leest says. “We take care of our patients and one another.”

The ripple effects of this cycle of care rise to the surface in the stories the patients tell after their time at Copper Ridge Surgery Center. Says Vande Leest: “Recently after surgery, a patient said to me, ‘You could tell the staff made me feel so cared for because they are so cared for.’ And I think: Yes. Goal made.”

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Northern Michigan Medical & Health

Photo(s) by Michael Poehlman