Leading the Way in Patient Care. UPMC


It’s 11 p.m. on a Saturday night at a UPMC hospital in Pittsburgh when a nurse realizes his patient doesn’t speak English.

But this doesn’t delay, derail, or impact the quality of care the patient receives.

Thanks to Tami Minnier’s leadership and insight as the Chief Quality Officer for UPMC, the nurse calls an internal toll-free number and is connected to a translator, ensuring the patient’s needs are met as soon as possible.

“If you, as a patient, have that translator, you can understand your care, ask the nurse questions, and ask the nurse to explain something that you may not have understood otherwise,” Tami said. “It enhances the patient experience.”

Creating a culture where patients are acknowledged and respected as whole and unique individuals through the CHRIS Initiative is exactly why Tami, Amy Ranier, and their team at UPMC are being honored by the Dignity and Respect Campaign. They Lead the Way, going above and beyond in the implementation of everyday operations.  Their best practice in patient care ensures each patient is heard, respected, understood, and cared for as an individual person to the best of everyone’s ability.

When the CHRIS Initiative was first introduced to UPMC clinicians and employees, a graphic image of a person made up of puzzle pieces represented the program. The CHRIS patient care model allows leadership to help staff understand and put into action the value that not all people are the same – but they are all equally wonderful.  Each puzzle piece signified a different attribute of a single patient: religious beliefs, sexual orientation, cultural background, personal goals, and other characteristics and values.

“As a caregiver, you need to figure out what is in those puzzle pieces for each of your patients. When you assume you know, and when you think you know, is when you fail. When you don’t meet your patients’ expectations, or you don’t deliver the care that is important to them, or if we don’t communicate to them in a way that they understand, that is when we fail,” Tami said.

CHRIS is at the core of UPMC’s patient care programming to the extent that now, each of the variables—or puzzle pieces—of a patient are embedded in electronic records. When a clinician admits a person to a hospital, questions about his or her religious beliefs, sexual orientation and cultural background are asked, so that each employee approaches the patient from the perspective of dignity and respect. The program makes sure every employee views every patient as a whole person with a complex identity and personal history.

In addition to embedding the CHRIS philosophy into UPMC’s electronic records system, the initiative can also be seen in action with a hotline that can be used by employees any time, day or night.

They simply call UPMC’s CHRIS Hotline for Patient Needs and a question is answered or a problem is solved. As a large organization with multiple locations, UPMC recognized a need to give employees a resource if they experienced a situation they weren’t sure how to handle.

“We have woven dignity and respect into the fabric of the organization,” Tami said.

These programs aren’t the only aspect of the organization keeping the values of dignity and respect at the forefront of employees’ minds and actions. The success is also measured by holding employees accountable. Fifty percent of an employee’s annual evaluation and potential merit increase stems from whether or not he or she is actually living the values of dignity and respect.

UPMC also evaluates potential new employees through the lens of these values, asking specific questions about how they react in various situations. This behavioral approach to the hiring process allows UPMC to make sure new recruits are ready to participate in a culture that values dignity and respect in daily operations—not just with words, but in practice.

In addition, UPMC added a Dignity and Respect Index to its employee engagement survey to measure success. Employees are asked about how they perceive the principles of dignity and respect are being implemented in the organization and how authentic they feel in the day to day activity and interactions taking place. From the patients’ perspectives, the program’s success is measured in the number of complaints and grievances.

“You realize that it is about how you have to change your culture, and as a result, we have seen the number of egregious complaints really reduced. I am really proud of that,” Tami said.

Amy Ranier, senior director of the patient experience at UPMC, is a member of Tami’s team. One of the many initiatives she helps to lead includes the Culture of Service Excellence initiative at UPMC. Leadership looked to direct-reports for support in developing this program, which has been led by employees. The training contentdeveloped for and by employeeshas been presented in four-hour sessions to nearly 60,000 individuals thus far throughout UPMCUPMC’s facilities.

“Those are employees who raised their hands and said ‘I want to train my staff in service excellence,’” Amy said. “Every hospital president and chief nurse went through the training and now we are at the staff level. We are so proud of this initiative. How we treat each other matters and how we treat our patients matters. It sends the message that this is how we do things at UPMC.”

The Culture of Service Excellence initiative is another demonstration of the commitment that Tami and Amy have to changing the culture for the long-term. Involving employees in every step has been the key to embedding the values of dignity and respect into operations.

“Tami and I lead a group called the Patient Experience Leaders. This is an informal group that meets every month. They developed the content of Culture of Service Excellence initiative. I cannot thank enough our training and development teams. They supported the training and this came out of the patient experience,” Amy said.

The results prove that leadership has communicated its initiatives effectively, making sure every patient who comes through UPMC’s doors is treated with respect and kindness every step of the way.

“Everyone is a mosaic with their own world experience and you can’t make assumptions. You need to think about how you approach people,” Tami said. “You have to build the right process if you want the right outcome.”

Lead the Way with Inclusion

Inclusion is a difficult concept to quantify. How do we know if our efforts to include another person are successful? What does it take to make someone feel included? How might someone else perceive our attempts at inclusion?

These are perhaps some of the questions we ask ourselves when contemplating the possibility of initiating interactions with someone we might not know very well. These are also the questions that can lead us to do nothing at all when it comes to reaching out. And while these fears or insecurities are valid and can certainly be surmountable, perhaps the most worrisome aspect of inclusion is when we don’t realize we need to achieve it.

Say a new person at work has joined your company. You’ve been very proactive in introducing yourself to him, you say hello when you pass him in the halls, and the two of you have chatted in the office kitchen. You feel certain that you have done a good job of being friendly and making this new coworker feel included on the team. However, you and a couple other coworkers have a regular coffee run to the local cafe every afternoon. You don’t think to invite your new teammate because it’s a tradition that the three of you engage in regularly.

However, this new coworker happens to love the cafe you get coffee from and can’t help but feel slightly excluded at not receiving an invite. He doesn’t tell you this, nor does he feel brave enough to invite himself.


The Lack of Inclusion

Is the above example a very minor instance of lack of inclusion? Of course. But this lack of awareness about inclusion is also visible on a larger scale – say the controversies in Hollywood over neglecting to nominate people of color for the 2016 Oscars, or the consistency of all-male speaker lineups. Though no one can say whether these instances of exclusion are intentional, they are certainly present. And the first way to address a lack of inclusion is to be aware of it.


The Benefit of Inclusion

So once you begin to be aware of what inclusion truly looks like, you might wonder how does being proactive benefit you? Naturally, inclusion spreads kindness to another person or group of people, but what it also does is break us out of our own boxes.

Many times, we live in segmented existences, working alongside people who are like us. We form friendships with similar minded (and looking) people, and often our neighborhoods and families are filled with more people who are like ourselves. And while it’s important to feel comfortable and safe in our environments, we also can’t grow as much without challenges or diversity.

Including other people into your circle who are new and different works to break up this monotony, and also helps to build cultural awareness. With this in mind, it’s up to you to lead the way. Let your inclusion behavior light the way for others to follow. Be the one to invite that new coworker to your coffee runs with you, or to befriend someone from a different background than yours.


If everyone relied on other people to lead the way or start a movement, then nothing would get done. Don’t be afraid to take that first step. You might just make a bigger difference than you realize.



#LeadTheWay with Kindness

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”   -Ralph Waldo Emerson


In a world that seems to highlight conflict, violence, and tragedies over optimism and compassion, it becomes increasingly important to call attention to goodness when it is being spread. One such initiative is the unofficial holiday, Random Acts of Kindness Day, which typically falls on February 17th. Many organizations and groups in the past have actually promoted an entire week devoted to random acts of kindness, and developed resources to further that cause.  

But this year’s commemorative week looks a little different. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, one of the major organizations that usually leads the march on this endeavor, seems to have a different call to action brewing. Go to their homepage and instead of finding resources or information about how to participate in Random Acts of Kindness Week, you’ll find a massive bright orange banner that reads:  


“Let’s make 2016 the year of kindness.”


So instead of only promoting acts of kindness for one week or one day out of the year, The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation seems to have focused their efforts on spreading thoughtfulness and love into all 365 days of the calendar year. As part of their mission, they are also promoting RAKtivists, or Random Acts of Kindness activists, to help develop a compassionate global community – which we feel is truly the ultimate example of a Lead the Way initiative.

At Dignity & Respect, Inc., we are excited by efforts that promote empathy and spread inclusion. Even though we support and celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day, we too believe that kindness should be a constant effort.


What Kindness Can Do

It’s true that we believe the spread of kindness and overall respect can make the world a better place for us all to live – but being kind to others can also serve our own overall wellness. In fact, performing acts of generosity has been proven to reduce the effects of stress. Some research has even been the impetus for physicians to recommend volunteer work to their patients as a way to increase health.

So where does one start? Spreading kindness can be as simple as buying a coffee for the person behind you in line at the coffee shop. It can be as involved as making a commitment to donate time volunteering with a local nonprofit. It can be as easy as smiling at everyone you pass for an entire day – or a whole week. However you choose to incorporate kindness into your daily life, know how important it is. Know that you are playing your part to #LeadTheWay.

Make a Resolution to Spread Dignity & Respect All Year Long!


Happy New Year to you and your family! Are you trying to motivate yourself to change your life? Are you going to make a greater effort this year to practice the Tips and spread Dignity & Respect? If you are making a resolution this year, you might find it difficult to keep as the year progresses. Here are some great tips to keep you on the straight and narrow path all year long:

1. Create a Plan
Setting a goal without formulating a plan is merely wishful thinking. In order for your resolution to have resolve, (as the word “resolution” implies), it must translate into clear steps that can be put into action. A good plan will tell you A) What to do next and B) What are all of the steps required to complete the goal.

2. Create Your Plan IMMEDIATELY
If you’re like most people, then you’ll have a limited window of opportunity during the first few days of January to harness your motivation. After that, most people forget their resolutions completely.

3. Write Down Your Resolution and Plan
… commit your resolution and plan to writing someplace, such as a notebook or journal.

4. Think “Year Round,” Not Just New Year’s
Nothing big gets accomplished in one day. Resolutions are set in one day, but accomplished with a hundred tiny steps that happen throughout the year. New Year’s resolutions should be nothing more than a starting point. You must develop a ritual or habit for revisiting your plan.

Check out the full article with even more tips here: http://www.mygoals.com/about/NewYearsTips.html

Lend A Hand this Holiday Season: Spotlight on Paws With a Cause



Still looking for a way to Lend a Hand and give back this holiday season? Paws With A Cause is a national organization that trains and provides assistance dogs to people with disabilities. Their mission is to encourage independence by training assistance animal and reaching out through education and support programs. Assistance animals and service dogs help their owners in a variety of ways:

“Hearing Dogs learn to alert individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to basic sounds such as a smoke alarm, a ringing telephone, a crying baby or a doorbell. The dog is trained to alert the individual of a sound and then lead them to the sound. If the sound being alerted to is a smoke alarm, the dog then accompanies the owner out of the building. All PAWS Hearing Dogs are taught basic American Sign Language commands.”

“Service Dogs are custom-trained to assist people with physical disabilities or seizure disorders. Service Dogs can perform tasks such as opening doors, turning light switches on/off, or picking up an object as small as a dime. Should the client fall, the dog can even be trained to act as a brace so the person can regain position.”

“To children with Autism, everyone, everywhere and everything is ‘outside’ of their world. Dogs can break into this world by always being there when they are needed by the child; dogs don’t pass judgment on a child, like humans tend to do. By nature, the dog does not care that the child has Autism; they only care that they are a part of the child’s life.”

Read about all these trained animal companions can do here: http://www.pawswithacause.org/Clients/AssistanceDogs/tabid/700/Default.aspx

If you would like to Lend A Hand to this organization, Paws With A Cause welcomes your donation but also is in need of volunteers. You can foster an animal or learn to become a trainer! Learn more here:


Lend A Hand this holiday season and make sure everyone is treated with Dignity & Respect. And if you have a charitable organization that you would like to spotlight, share it with us on our Facebook wall!

Lend a Hand this Holiday Season – Spotlight on Habitat for Humanity



Still looking for a way to Lend a Hand and give back this holiday season? Did you know that when you give to Habitat for Humanity, your gift might have twice the impact!

Investing in a Habitat family creates a brighter future for the children in Habitat homes.
Did you know that children who live in inadequate housing have lower educational achievement and are more likely to be impoverished and unemployed as adults? The good news is that, according to the Harvard Center on Housing, a dollar invested in housing has a greater impact on a child’s long-term well-being than a dollar invested in health or education.

Check to see if your employer will match your donation here: http://www1.matchinggifts.com/habitat/ It’s a great way to give doubly for the holidays!

And if you own a business, you can encourage your employees to give back this season by joining Habitat for Humanity’s Gift That Builds program:


And here are some more ways you can help:

Share your enthusiasm about Habitat for Humanity with your colleagues. Here are some ideas of how you can support Habitat at your workplace:

· Identify Habitat for Humanity supporters in your company.

  • Encourage others to take advantage of your company’s matching gift program
  • Ask your Human Resources team to add Habitat for Humanity to your workplace giving campaign.
  • Raise money for Habitat by collecting donations and allowing donors to wear jeans on a designated day.
  • Host an event in the office to raise funds for a specific Habitat project.
  • Organize a group of coworkers to volunteer on a Habitat build site or go on a Global Village volunteer trip.

What will you do to Lend a Hand this holiday? Share your ideas and favorite charities with us!