Welcome to “We Are Valley,” a podcast by Valley Medical Center, located in Renton WA. “We Are Valley” is dedicated to providing you bite-sized advice to improve your health and well-being and keep you updated on the latest medical guidance. This podcast is for informational purposes only and isn’t intended to be taken as medical advice, so please talk to your provider before making changes that will affect your health.
Host: Welcome to the We Are Valley Podcast, I’m Kristin Bidwell, manager of communications and marketing here at Valley Medical Center. I’m really excited to be the host of our first ever episode as we welcome a very special guest, our amazing CEO, Jeannine Erickson Grinnell. Jeannine, thank you for joining us today.
Jeannine: Thank you for having me.
Host: Jeannine, as we get started… In the coming months, we want to use this space for our community and the people in our public hospital district to share some resources and information to improve our health and well-being and just kind of, share what is available to people.
And we thought that sharing a little bit about Valley and who we are would be a great start with you, as Valley is a really important health resource for a lot of people here in South King County.
To start… You got started as our CEO in the middle of a global pandemic, kind of a challenging time as we’ve alluded to in the past for everyone in healthcare; whether you were on the front line or leading.
The good news is, you put out a year-end message a short time ago, at the end of 2023 where you really focused on the word “reignited” and that feels very hopeful to me. I wanted to start out by asking you what “reignited” means to you and why you feel it captures where we are at Valley right now?
JEANNINE: So I think the word “reignited” represents bright… Brightness, and light, and hope.
And… I think that’s where we are. I think that is the right word, I think that it’s the appropriate way to be describing as we emerge from a pandemic. That there are glimmers of all of those things; of hope and light.
And that is what represents our future. As we look forward – and we look forward because of everybody out there – everybody in this organization that had to pull together in the most amazing ways over the last three years, and for anybody who is listening.
And so reignited to me… I am a candle maker as a side- as a hobby. And I really believe strongly in the concept of light. And I think that the concept of reignited, as far as people and their hope and their joy as they look forward in the world is very important.
As for us, over the last several years, we embarked on an initiative called Operation Ascend and we are STRONGER, much stronger because of that initiative. It’s still under way, but it made us more adaptive. And I think this organization needs to recognize how adaptive they were over the last three years. What we had to do, and how we had to do it… it’s amazing. NOW we can turn to hopefully a life that is a little more familiar. Our community has begun to re-emerge and we’ve all begun to re-engage again with our health, which has been what we’ve been focusing on, and reignites our PURPOSE. So’s there’s another theme that I want to make sure we emphasize.
We welcomed more new patients through our doors than ever before. Our entire clinic network: our primary, urgent, and specialty clinics have cared for a record number of community members. Our emergency department, infusion center, acute inpatient areas, breast center, and cardiac cath lab, every area of this organization has continued to see more and more patients, as patients come back from what was a pretty remarkable time.
So, to me, 2023 ushered in a new day, it ushered in a new light, for us. New ways for us to consider how we will care for our community like family – which is our mission, and we believe it very strongly. It allows us to turn our sights towards the future. So, I think at the end of the day, all of that is what I mean when I talk about reignited.
Host: Yeah, definitely quite an amazing journey, and really nice to see people are prioritizing their health again and not just trying to avoid COVID, and actually looking at preventative care, and caring for what needs to be looked at.
So, looking ahead to the future… This crystal ball metaphor, what does your crystal ball tell us for 2024 and the year ahead?
JEANNINE: *laughs* Crystal balls are an interesting concept, but would I would say right now… 2024 looks to be a year of increased stabilization. I think we have set ourselves on a strong trajectory for what I would define as excellence, innovation and growth.
So.. How are we going to do that? I think that there’s a number of different areas that we focus on. First and foremost, we focus on our people. We are an organization of people, for people, taking care of people. That’s what we’re about. And so we need to focus on our people: those we care about, those we employ. So we’ll be focusing on some organizational development and leadership initiatives during this year. Really focusing a lot on recruitment and retention. Those are both extremely important things, if we do not have a strong recruitment and retention program… we are all people. So we have to focus on that.
I think that there’s also the need to continue to work a lot, and we have been, on cohesive and comprehensive patient experiences across the continuum. Which, wherever you may start in your journey as a patient, whether you’re in the clinics, whether you start as an outpatient, whether you come in through the emergency department, whether you start as an inpatient; all of those we need to focus on.
I think.. Underpinning, or overarching all of that, is our never-ending desire in excellence for quality and safety, because that’s why we’re here and that’s why we take care of people. I think also though, this means we have to pivot and think about short and mid-term strategic initiatives and developing a strategic roadmap which is going to focus on our core strengths. Which includes cancer, we just… We are just embarking the construction of the infusion center on the 3rd floor of Valley’s East Pavilion. We were just successful in opening the Lake Wilderness Clinic in Maple Valley… Both of those things continue to emphasize our short and mid-term strategic roadmap, which is getting more access and capacity out into our community to care for our patients. Further work on that probably will be continuing to do renovations on the second floor, and other clinic expansions.
In addition to doing that, we also need to really continue to focus on infrastructure. That’s our core: that’s our facilities, that’s our IT backbone, which also relates to something very much in the news today, which is cybersecurity. There’s just a lot that’s going on in what I would call the infrastructure area we need to focus on.
Through all of that, we have to focus on cash stabilization and financial sustainability… I don’t know any health organization that came out of the pandemic, in any sort of financially strong way. So clearly there has to be an initiative and an emphasis to work on sustainability and stabilization as we move ahead.
I think the last comment I’d make is… We’ve been doing a lot of effort and work in understanding we can’t do it alone. And so that means we also need to focus on areas of philanthropy and working with others in strategic relationships, whether that’s legislators, other companies, other donors… Because we all have to pull together into what we call the tapestry of Valley to make it work successfully. So, that’s sort of where my crystal ball shines forward for 2024.
HOST: Yeah, a lot to look forward to I feel like.. You talked about people and I’ve been at Valley over two years now. You’ve been here over 20. I think most people who work here agree there’s something really special about the people who work at Valley, and that they truly feel called to live our mission for caring for our community like family.
Is there something you want the community to know about the people who work here and a message you have for the staff who may be listening.
JEANNINE: I think we have an incredible culture, and I think our culture is driven by our people. The people who chose to work here and all of the patients who chose to come. What I would want anyone out there listening to know, is how much I appreciate all of you.
I appreciate all of you, I appreciate the resilience, the camaraderie, and the fundamental passion that I think most people at Valley have to help. I think together over the last several years, well for the last 20 that I’ve been here, but definitely more near term in the last several with the pandemic, and as we’ve come out of that. We’ve experienced a lot of turbulence and change. And remarkably we’ve come out of it stronger than when we went in. I don’t think people would have thought that. When we were in it, we were IN it. But we’ve actually come out of it stronger. And so I would just say thank you to everyone for that. And for, showing just, the real grittiness, and the resilience we had to have during that time period.
I think we’re amazingly positioned to do incredible and extraordinary things, and I’m excited about the coming year.
HOST: Thank you for that message. And Jeannine, thank you so much for being with us for our first episode of the We Are Valley Podcast. We hope we can have you back on again in the future, and thank you to all those who joined us and are listening.
This has been “We Are Valley,” a podcast produced by Valley Medical Center in Renton, Washington, as part of our mission to care for our community like family. If you liked this episode, be sure to subscribe to our feed for more great health content. And for more health resources or to find a provider, visit valleymed.org