Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s biggest asset – the 22,000 employees who through everything they do touch the lives of millions of patients and their families each year – were honored at last week’s “Celebrate the Difference YOU Make Every Day.”
Thousands attended the celebratory event, held in three sessions over two days at Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gymnasium, and hundreds more served as volunteers and executive greeters.
Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., President and CEO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) and Dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, welcomed everyone, saying that the Medical Center’s strong “culture of caring” is one of many things that sets it apart from other hospitals in the region.
Health care of the future, he said, will be intertwined with technical advances, many of which are being discovered and tested at VUMC. And many patients will undoubtedly be cared for outside the traditional health care setting.
“Those advances won’t define us. We are going to wrap our culture of caring around those advances…We’re not asking just for patients to come to us. We’re going to them – at work, at home and wherever they need us. That’s what’s different about Vanderbilt,” Balser said. “It doesn’t take just great health care providers; it takes everybody, all of us, to create that kind of vision for health care.”
Those attending Celebrate were treated to videotaped thank-you greetings from Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, entertainers Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts and others. They heard from Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse Martha Lott, who in 1961 was the first baby ventilated in Vanderbilt’s pioneering Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and from the family of burn survivor Noah Kelly and members of the large team who cared for him during his 142 days in the hospital.
Live entertainment was provided by The Music City Sound and The Vanderbilt Melodores a cappella group, accompanied by Chris Kirkpatrick, formerly of NSYNC. CMT personality Allison DeMarcus, president of the board of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and wife of Rascal Flatts’ Jay DeMarcus, emceed the event.
C. Wright Pinson, MBA, M.D., Deputy CEO and Chief Health System Officer, also spoke to attendees at Celebrate.
Pinson said he asks himself a few questions every day when he comes to work: What can I do today to help improve the lives of our patients and their families? How can we create more value? What can I do today that will honor and value the tremendous employees who make it all happen?
“One of my greatest pleasures is hearing from patients and their families about the difference we make in their lives. It’s an awesome responsibility, but it’s a wonderful opportunity. We help people stay well, improve the quality of their life, help those with serious disease heal, and we provide hope. We do this for our patients every day.
Event co-chairs Marilyn Dubree, R.N., Executive Chief Nursing Officer, and Paul Sternberg, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of the Vanderbilt Medical Group, said the event was a success.
“We are very appreciative of the many staff who made the effort to attend a Celebrate session. We hope that each person who attended left with an understanding of how much we appreciate their contributions,” Sternberg said.
“Celebrate provided our employees with an opportunity to hear from leadership about how important they are — those in direct patient care and those behind the scenes. Everyone’s role is crucial to the success of Vanderbilt Medical Center.”
Celebrate ended with attendees being asked to participate in a smartphone poll, completing the phrase “I make a difference because I (fill in the blank) every day!” The words submitted were shown in a “word cloud” on the stage’s screen, with the words chosen most often appearing the largest. The word “Care” was largest in all three sessions.