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Charleston VA Director receives Leadership Award

Charleston VAMC Director and CEO Scott Isaacks (left) presents an ICARE award to Tamika Blount-Currie (center) along with Deputy Chief of Staff Dr. Simon Scalia (right) at the monthly employee awards ceremony, one of the new initiatives at Charleston VAMC to recognize staff for going above and beyond to serve Veterans. Photo by James Arrowood.
Charleston VAMC Director and CEO Scott Isaacks (left) presents an ICARE award to Tamika Blount-Currie (center) along with Deputy Chief of Staff Dr. Simon Scalia (right) at the monthly employee awards ceremony, one of the new initiatives at Charleston VAMC to recognize staff for going above and beyond to serve Veterans. Photo by James Arrowood.

Last week, Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center Director and CEO Scott Isaacks received the inaugural South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) Drive to Zero Harm Leadership Award.

Last week, Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center Director and CEO Scott Isaacks received the inaugural South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) Drive to Zero Harm Leadership Award, a recognition given to the South Carolina health care leader who demonstrates extraordinary commitment to creating a culture of high reliability to eliminate harm from all facets of care.

Isaacks has followed the example of his medical center’s namesake, PFC Ralph H. Johnson, as he leads more than 3,100 employees with a focus on excellence, commitment to mission, sacrifice in service to others, and honor for our nation’s heroes every day.

“This award is a direct reflection of the dedication of our staff to improve the quality of care for our Veterans, ensuring they get safe, quality, timely care,” said Isaacks. “Ralph’s legacy is not just a name on our building, his leadership, selflessness, sacrifice, and commitment to service and country are characteristics each of our employees aims to embody each day as we care for our nation’s Veterans.”

Isaacks has led the hospital to embrace non-punitive root cause analyses for any patient safety concern or near miss. His efforts have helped empower staff members to raise concerns in a just culture environment so that the best care is delivered to every Veteran.

“Our staff continues to bring their improvement ideas forward, they volunteer on process improvement teams, and truly own patient safety.” said Isaacks. “Their ideas are now helping lead change within our agency by providing resources and expertise to the other VA medical centers nationwide. I am proud to be at a facility where our employees are devoted to such a high level of quality care.”

In February, the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center was named one of VA’s 18 High Reliability Organization (HRO) pilot sights. Since then, the Charleston VA has focused on building the foundation for its HRO policies while ensuring they create a blueprint for other facilities to follow in the future.

“Our facility was chosen, in large part, because of the hard work of our staff to this point,” said Scott Isaacks, Director and CEO of Charleston VAMC. “This distinction is an amazing honor and we are excited to develop best practices that can be repeated at facilities across VA.”

Isaacks announced the hire of Kathleen Gillard to the HRO team in her role as the HRO project lead. One of her first tasks is to build a team around her and continue the foundational training program that is underway currently.

“I’m excited to welcome Kathleen Gillard to the HRO team, and I can’t wait to see her exceed our expectations in her role as the HRO project lead,” said Isaacks.

Research shows high reliability organizations experience fewer accidents despite being high-risk environments where small errors can produce catastrophic results. A February Leadership Summit kicked off the HRO journey and introduced high reliability concepts and practices to the 18 sites. Lessons learned from these 18 sites will guide a more impactful rollout across every Veterans Health Administration (VHA) medical facility in 2020.

“One of the reasons that our facility was chosen as a pilot site for VA is because our employees have all dedicated the last few years to improving the safety of care for our patients even more,” Isaacks said. “I’m proud of the fact that VA has recognized the hard work of our staff, and as we embark officially on our HRO journey, I know we are starting from a strong foundation.”

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