UH/CVC leadership team reflects on past year

August 31, 2017  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership,

Earlier this month, David Spahlinger, M.D., president of the U-M Health System, recounted the achievements of the clinical enterprise over the past fiscal year.

Recently, the leadership team for University Hospital and the Frankel Cardiovascular Center — Chief Nursing Officer Marge Calarco, Ph.D., RN, NEA-BC; Executive Director Shon Dwyer, MBA, RN; and Chief Clinical Officer Dee Fenner, M.D. — sat down with Headlines to discuss the major accomplishments and milestones at UH/CVC over the past 12 months.

“The dedication of UH/CVC faculty and staff to face challenges, adapt to change and continually improve is incredible,” said Dwyer. “Everyone is driven to find the best solutions for our patients and families.”

Quality and safety

“Decreasing hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) is critical to our mission of improving patient care,” said Dwyer. “The UH/CVC community has rallied around this goal with remarkable results.”

UH/CVC decreased HACs by more than 10 percent, surpassing its target and contributing significantly to the organization’s overall reduction of 6.35 percent. Some of this success can likely be attributed to the rollout of the Daily Management System (DMS), which uses visual boards and daily huddles to track safety priorities and outcomes, identify problems and implement improvement strategies.

“DMS has absolutely made a difference in our entire unit’s ability to understand our outcomes and tackle issues,” said John Swirple, clinical nursing director on 6B.

Rommel Sagana, medical director for 6C, agreed: “I think it encourages everyone to be proactively involved with problem solving to reduce falls and HACs.”

The willingness to embrace new approaches has been critical as the hospitals are continually at full capacity.

“High occupancy has become a normal state for us,” said Fenner. “We’re thankful to have the teamwork and collaboration to design and implement changes with patient interests at the forefront.”

Other successful efforts include the Admitting Officer of the Day (AOD) model, which has decreased the average acceptance time of outside transfers from 177 minutes to 27 minutes, and the Priority Discharge program, which improved the number of patients discharged by 11 a.m. (thus making room for patients coming from the emergency department or out of surgery). Changes to the Patient Placement Algorithm, coming in September, also aim to improve patient flow.

UH/CVC also saw an increase in overall patient satisfaction for adult inpatients. The leadership trio cited cleanliness and physician communication as two major focus areas for the next year.


In February, the health system achieved Magnet recognition, the highest honor in nursing achieved by only 6 percent of hospitals.

“Juanita Parry, Magnet program director, put it best when she said ‘Magnet isn’t awarded; it’s earned,’” said Calarco. “Attaining this designation took the effort of our entire community. I’m incredibly proud.”

In addition to achieving Magnet, Michigan Medicine’s adult hospitals were ranked No. 6 in the country and No. 1 in Michigan for 2017-2018 by U.S. News & World Report. Nine specialty areas ranked in the top ten nationally.

The organization was also included in the 150 Great Place to Work 2017 from Becker’s Hospital Review. The assessment takes into account a number of criteria, including sense of community.

Crystal Gray, clinical nursing director on 8C, said that teamwork certainly is a major driver in her work: “I came here after 16 years with another organization. The environment here is so inclusive. I feel like I truly have a voice.”

Financial achievements and investment in community

“Dr. Spahlinger’s message touched on planned investments in our people and facilities,” said Dwyer. “We’re also investing in the care that we provide outside of our buildings.”

As a result of a 2016 Community Needs Health Assessment conducted by U-M and St. Joseph Mercy Hospitals of Ann Arbor and Chelsea, an incremental $3 million was approved for use to treat obesity-related conditions, mental health and substance use issues, and perinatal care.

“Our impact reaches beyond Michigan, but it starts here in Washtenaw County,” Dwyer said. “It’s important to find new ways to engage with the community and work on the plan in partnership.”

For more information on UH/CVC’s priorities, progress, and general news and updates, visit the UH/CVC internal website