Editor’s Page: Always Striving for Excellence


I’m not a roller coaster guy. Never have been. But last month, during a family trip to Ocean City, Md., my brother-in-law asked me to ride shotgun on the Tidal Wave, a towering steel monster with two vertical loops, a Cobra roll and several stomach-churning lifts and drops. My family circled around me as I weighed the offer, playfully forcing me to push past my comfort zone. I’m glad they did. The ride was a thrilling two-minute adrenaline rush. I swore. I laughed. I screamed. I had a blast.

Adrenaline rushes, swearing, laughing, having a blast — kind of sounds like a day of surgery. I’m sure you’re sometimes hanging on for dear life as unexpected twists and turns throw you for a loop. Getting to the end of a busy day with your head on straight is often good enough, which is why I’m always amazed at the capacity you have to try new things, to push past your comfort zones in a constant quest to improve some aspect of patient care or how you run your facility. 

That attitude is a common thread through this year’s winners of the OR Excellence Awards, our annual recognition of facilities that excel at performing cost-effective, safe, environmentally friendly and welcoming care. For them, good enough is never good enough.

The leaders at Emory Health in Atlanta are thinking outside of boxes, not checking them, in their efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Staff at Eye 35 ASC — that’s them on the cover — think inside the box, a red one, that contains all the supplies they’d ever need to protect themselves and their patients in the event of a large-scale emergency.

Not settling for good enough sometimes requires finding new ways to reinforce the fundamentals. St. Vincent Mercy Hospital in Indiana focuses on basic best practices to prevent surgical site infections. Cedar Orthopaedic Surgery Center in Utah performs opioid-free operations with the help of multimodal pain cocktails and by ensuring patients are up and moving soon after surgery. 

Knoxville Orthopaedic Surgery Center in Tennessee partnered with a physical therapist to improve workplace ergonomics. White Rock Medical Center in Dallas showed a great deal of creative thinking by devising a teaching mnemonic to make sure patients remembered discharge care directions once they returned home. St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Maine taps into the insights of frontline staff to find creative cost-saving measures that help fund the facility’s mission to care for the poor in the community.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan goes green by coming up with a new system to collect and recycle blue wrap, an initiative that diverted 3,000 pounds of the material from the waste stream last year. Yessenia Salgado, co-chair of the center’s Greening the OR Committee, says a spark of an idea requires a team who is passionate about bringing it to life, even if it’s not easy to accomplish or requires a great deal of work to get done.

The surgical leaders who nominate their facilities for awards are really highlighting the hard work and dedication of their incredible staffs. That’s evident when each winner emails us a batch of pictures to run in the profile of their success stories. We always ask for action shots, images that depict the initiatives for which they’re being recognized, but inevitably the leaders send several group shots of grinning teammates striking celebratory poses. Why wouldn’t they? It’s their teams who make sure great ideas don’t die after being mentioned in meetings or scribbled on whiteboards. Those smiling providers aren’t simply along for the ride. OSM

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