When I was first asked to be a VIP link person for Maureen Bisognano – the President and CEO of the Institute of Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in Boston, I was so excited I ran into my colleague’s office to tell her. I didn’t really know what a link person was, but it sounded exciting! I Googled Maureen and the IHI and discovered the amazing work they do in quality improvement.
I soon found out that I had a very important task which included being responsible for Maureen’s itinerary during the week and making her feel welcome. Being a fellow American and an honorary kiwi I was looking forward to giving Maureen a wonderful experience while she was here.
Maureen arrived on Sunday 16 September. I didn’t meet her at the airport (although now I wish I had), but I sent her a welcome text. On Monday Maureen spent the day at Ko Awatea and it was such an honor to finally meet her and spend the day with her team. Everyone was genuine, down to earth and inspiring…. especially Maureen.
On Wednesday, Maureen got the opportunity to visit the Manukau SuperClinic followed by an interprofessional student Healthcare Quality Improvement session at the University of Auckland. Maureen was a big hit with the students and it was a wonderful opportunity to talk about leadership and the Ko Awatea Student Chapter.
At the Manukau SuperClinic Maureen visited the Dialysis Unit, where she spoke with the husband of a patient who was on Dialysis. He described what he does to look after her – even setting up the dialysis machine. Maureen also met Joeli Vidiri, former All Black, who shared his life story as a dialysis patient and Maureen was moved by the sense of community and family involvement with patient care.
On Thursday and Friday I was lucky to attend Maureen’s keynote speech and presentation at APAC. I learnt about Maureen’s ‘all teach all learn’ philosophy and came to admire how she speaks in stories to really connect with people. Her passion and commitment for improving healthcare for patients and supporting those who work at the front line is inspiring.
I also had the opportunity to ask Maureen’s advice on how she manages her team at IHI. She gave me some very practical advice, such as the importance of values and how they shape the culture of an organisation. In fact the only place you can get chocolate at IHI is in the executive office… three feet from Maureen’s desk! She does this because she wants to foster a culture of ‘no boundaries’, meaning that all staff at any level should feel comfortable approaching the executives, grabbing some chocolate and contributing an idea or stopping for a chat. I love this! They also host weekly staff meetings (yes, all 130 of them attend) where they share information, bring people together face-to-face and create a joyfulness and buzz for the work they do.
I felt so honored to hang out with Maureen while she was in NZ and was sad to see her go. I’d definitely be a link person again – I have learnt so much from the entire APAC experience.
Acting Manager, Centre for Workforce & Leadership Capability
Ko Awatea I Health System Innovation and Improvement