Dignity Health

Dignity Health, the fifth-largest nonprofit hospital system in the country with more than 60,000 employees in 17 states, recently completed a transition two years in the making.

The system rebranded itself from Catholic Healthcare West to Dignity Health. The system is made up of Catholic and non-Catholic care centers, and there are ethical directives of the church in place, but behavioral principles drive them.

One of the member hospitals is Mercy Gilbert Medical Center in Gilbert, Ariz. Mercy has a unique on-boarding approach to help instill its organizational values. On-boarding is a full-day event for new employees as they experience Service and Culture Day.

The day starts with the vice president of mission services telling the history of the Sisters of Mercy and how everyone in the organization is involved in patient and family-centered care.

Family-centered care is not a new concept. Organizations realize they can make a patient well, but full healing may take time and involve a whole family. Mercy has supported this practice by creating a family environment, choosing soothing decor and artwork, non-restricted visiting hours, complementary caregiver practices and establishing patient-friendly times for environmental services to run equipment to clean the building.

The storytelling aspect of Mercy’s on-boarding program helps new employees understand the importance of what they will do every day and that every employee — not just direct caregivers — plays a part in family-centered care.
Anita Harger, director of human resources, said the day ends with the group going to the chapel for the blessing of the hands.

Each person lights a candle and the chaplains say a blessing over each person’s hands. They all gather in a circle and listen to the closing of the day. “It does not matter if you are a practicing Catholic or what you believe spirituality is,” Harger said. “This is a very moving experience, and by the end, there’s not a dry eye in the chapel.”

To dedicate an entire day to educating a new employee about an organization, how each person is expected to behave and the reason the principles of behavior exist is a sound approach to instill organizational values.

Dignity Health is also considering hosting full- or half-day sessions for current employees to continue to experience the commitment to family-centered care and renew their understanding and commitment to the organization.