What Success Looks Like
Redefining World Class personalized health care: Taking our values across borders
August 28, 2010
One might think the only way you can make a difference in responding to the medical needs of a natural disaster is to bring a bag of supplies and state-of-the-art equipment. But Monica Terez made a difference in the lives of many Haitians armed only with the leadership tools she learned at the Medical Center.
After the January 12 earthquake, Terez, a staff nurse in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), spent 18 days in devastated Haiti providing world class, personalized health care to seriously injured children, despite the lack of supplies, equipment, and even buildings that she’s used to.
How was she able to do it? Terez credits everything to the internal tools she learned working at the Medical Center. The values instilled in her allowed her to communicate despite language barriers, identify a need and think creatively to find solutions, and quickly build a high-performing team.
Her focus on leadership and collaboration allowed Terez to jump into action immediately after she arrived. After being led by flashlight from the plane to the hospital tent, Terez had a 10-minute orientation. The tent, basically a circus tent Terez said, was the bare basics with rows of cots on the bare ground, IVs held up by string, and no doors, cabinets, or blankets. In the corner of the pediatrics section, she noticed a small cardboard sign hung up with string that said “NICU/PICU.” She walked over and jumped in to help.
“There were babies in suitcase, babies having trouble breathing – utter chaos, but I knew we could make sense of it,” said Terez. “I knew I had to take initiative and form a team I can work with for the next 18 days.”
In a rudimentary NICU with donated, makeshift supplies, and no running water, innovation was the only way to operate. Terez said she had to constantly ask herself how to provide patient care in a disaster situation without her usual medication, tools, and supplies, and a language barrier. But, the lack of resources didn’t present any challenges, and the team found ways to use the resources on hand.
Just getting to Haiti took a little creative thinking and innovation, said Terez. Her supervisor and other nurse managers and department heads helped her schedule unplanned vacation time, and adaptable coworkers helped cover her shifts. She said the ability to make the trip possible is another example of how the Medical Center exemplifies collaboration and innovation.
Terez wants to use her experience to help create a global response plan that would enable the Medical Center to quickly send a group of doctors, nurses, and supplies based on the specific needs. She said our values will make it possible to offer the same level of care, and will have the same results.
“I deliver personalized health care in Columbus, Ohio,” said Terez. “When I deliver this same care across the borders of our country, it has the same impact – it delivers hope, improves lives, and shows the world what integrity and excellence mean.”
Terez, who is quick to point out that others from the Medical Center team also made a difference in Haiti, said she doesn’t want to draw attention to herself, but to the many hidden benefits of everyone who volunteered in Haiti, and made the experience possible. Stepping outside of our comfort zone paves the way for everyone.
“We raised the bar of excellence in the workplace, and tore down some of the preconceived fears about what it would mean to serve outside of our boundaries,” she said.
Collaborating as One University
Acting with Integrity and Personal Accountability
Openness and Trust
Diversity in People and Ideas
Change and Innovation
Simplicity in Our Work
Empathy and Compassion
Saving Baby "Camille"
"Camille,” a baby born 16 weeks early and weighing less than 2 pounds, arrived at the hospital in grave condition – even in the U.S., a baby born 16 weeks prematurely has a tough fight ahead, and generally spends about four months in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit. In order for Camille to have a chance at survival, Terez knew she would need to rely on her medical training and internal tools.
"I knew that whether or not she stayed alive was up to me, and I had to pick up the subtleties of a NICU patient," she sad. "I also knew she had to get to the U.S. to get the right equipment and care - any infection would kill her."
Terez and a NICU doctor from North Carolina jumped in to stabilize Camille. They had to think of innovative ways to use the equipment such as IVs that weren't the right size, and the medication they had on hand, even if it wasn't the most effective.
The team then worked with the Army and Air Force for four days to evacuate Camille, but ended up missing by hours the deadline for evacuating patients who were injured in the earthquake. They didn’t let that stop them, and coordinated with a private Atlanta-based company to arrange for a private transport, escorted by the military.
Their innovation and persistence paid off, and Camille arrived safely in the U.S. to begin receiving the level of care she needed.
"When I got the e-mail that said she was safe, and had a clean IV and the right antibiotic, we all cheered," said Terez.