Health & Family

Mission statements don’t have to be boring, Carolinas HealthCare CEO says

Carolinas Medical Center is the flagship hospital in Carolinas HealthCare System
Carolinas Medical Center is the flagship hospital in Carolinas HealthCare System mhames@charlotteobserver.com

Workplace “mission statements” don’t exactly light up the average office. But Gene Woods, who’s been at the helm of Carolinas HealthCare System for six months, can barely contain his excitement about the new mission and vision statements adopted by his board of commissioners Tuesday.

They’re not just words, he told the Observer. A mission statement is the reason why 60,000 Carolinas HealthCare employees go to work every day. They should be able to remember it and be inspired by it.

He’s right. The old mission statement wasn’t memorable: “Create and operate a comprehensive system to provide healthcare and related services, including education and research opportunities, for the benefit of the people we serve.”

The new one is succinct: “To improve Health, elevate Hope, and advance Healing – for all.”

Woods said he proposed the three H’s – Health, Hope and Healing – after hearing those themes in conversations with employees during his first few months on the job. Employees lobbied to add the words “for all” because of the system’s history as the region’s “safety net.”

Carolinas HealthCare is one of the nation’s largest public, nonprofit health systems and provides health care for many uninsured and under-insured patients across the Carolinas.

At Wood’s request, the board also approved a replacement for the previous vision statement: “Carolinas HealthCare System will be recognized nationally as a leader in the transformation of healthcare delivery and chosen for the quality and value of services we provide.”

The new one is just as lofty, but punchier: “To be the first and best choice for care.”

Having gone through similar mission statement revisions in previous jobs, Woods said enthusiasm here “exceeded my expectations.” An anonymous survey of 1,500 system leaders showed that 98 percent agreed or strongly agreed with the new statements.

When he got those results, he said, “I knew I had tapped into something. I think the organization was thirsty, a little bit, for clarity on this.”

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, the board unanimously approved adding a practicing physician to its membership for the first time. The new member is Dr. Nancy Gritter of Metrolina Nephrology Associates. Hospital officials said many systems, including Winston-Salem-based Novant Health, have doctors on their boards. In another break from tradition, the board also made Woods, the system’s CEO, a member of the board.

Karen Garloch: 704-358-5078, @kgarloch

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