Tuesday, September 8, 2015 11:31 AM

Valuing employees with the VATTYs

Community’s fourth annual VATTY Awards celebrated the employees who put in a lot of hard work last year to find better products, negotiate better deals, and standardize supplies and services to find $7,058,955 million in savings. Wow, more than $7 million!

Awards with silly names were handed out for the super serious work of helping our healthcare network be more efficient while delivering better patient care. Since March 2011 our eight Value Analysis Teams (or VATs) have found more than $33.2 million in savings using employees’ ideas for cost-savings and working with vendors, evaluating products/services and piloting process changes and then conducting audits to see how changes are working.

This year the seven VAT’s collectively saved $538,955 more than the goal they set for themselves at the beginning of the year.

Peg Breen, SVP of Human Resources, and John Zelezny, SVP of Communications, handed out kudos and plaques with Chief Nursing Officer Mary Contreras, who heads the Value Analysis process for our healthcare network. “Seven million is a BIG deal,” said John. Peg was even more effusive: “It’s gigantic, it’s fantastic, it’s awesome!”

Peg noted that the employee-driven process “has all of the good juicy stuff that we think drives employee engagement” like teamwork and collaboration across facilities. “All of you take such incredible ownership…using your creativity, flexibility, perseverance and even your diplomacy.”

And awards were given for all those traits. This year’s 2015 VATTY’s went to the following:

Moneybag$ for the team that saved the highest percentage of dollars over their goal went to FIRM (Finance-IS-Human Resources-Materials Management) team which was 172.7% of their goal with a final savings of $1,122,703 on 33 initiatives. Kudos to Rich Cummins. It was his first year as leader.

Mary made special note of the runner-up, the Peri-operative Team, which was 170% over their goal and found $2,211,604 million in savings. “Wow!” she said. “Their savings is 31.3% of the $7 million total saved by all the teams put together. We would not have reached our mark this year if they hadn’t gone so far above their team goal.”

Power Producers for the team that pushed through the most initiatives and projects to completion went to Patient Care for doing the work to put 62 savings ideas into action and help save an amazing $1.7 million. Sandra Yovino, director of our burn center, is a fierce competitor who makes sure folks are having fun while working on ways to be more efficient.

MVP or Most Valuable Project for achieving the biggest savings with a single initiative went to the FIRM team for a project to save an estimated $457,442 by eliminating an IT maintenance contract with a vendor for a system that takes paper documents and scans them in a way that it can be attached to the patient record in our Epic electronic medical records system. We’re switching to another system in the next year or so.

Five R Award – a special award this year for the Sustainability Team, honors the new team’s mantra: rethink, reduce, reuse, repair and recycle. This team started as the Green Team at Community Regional with like-minded employee volunteers who wanted to highlight Earth Day and encourage greener living. Now this group is looking for ways our healthcare network can reduce its carbon footprint, while also educating staff and visitors about the connection between negative impacts on the environment and public health.
The team helped our system reduce 777,957 pounds of waste that was going to landfills and realized $151,849 in savings from switching to more sustainable rather than disposable products. Plus they’ve helped Community get $11,023 in rebates from various recycling efforts. Not bad for their first year!

Physician Champion honoring a doctor who has stepped up to champion our value analysis process on important cost savings measures went to Dr. Michel Maruyama. Earnest Barreto who nominated Dr. Maruyama said he was invaluable in educating other physicians that this is not just about saving money, but actually about finding an equivalent or even better device or product that improves patient care.

VAT Diplomat for the person who could pull together the most contentious or stubborn groups and get them to agree on and implement a cost savings change went to Rich Cummins, leader of the FIRM team. “Rich really took to heart his duties as chair,” said George Vasquez, who nominated him. “He personally worked with one of the vendors to gain quite a bit of savings from our AT&T contract.”

Creative Conserver for the person who came up with and followed through on the most creative savings initiative went to Tim Brown in IS for his idea to retire a software support maintenance contract and save more than $450,000.

Stick-to-itive Saver for the person who pushed through and stayed with a particularly difficult initiative until it resulted in savings went to Mark Hall. Tiffani Quinto, who nominated Mark, said he works on multiple teams and has shepherded several complex projects. “He’s beyond patient and an amazing leader,” she said before leading the crowd on a shout out. “Give me an M! Give me an A! Give me an R! Give me a K!”

Steady Eddy Award for always attending meetings and being there at every step to offer assistance in the process went to Joseph Zlaket. Joe got high praise from Regina Wells, his nominator: “He is a never-ending negotiator with the vendors, and never accepts the first price that comes in. If there is a product he doesn’t know, he researches it and automatically looks for competitive companies for better pricing…Not only does he worry about how much an item costs, he worries about reimbursement for that item. We’ve really come to count on his steady presence.”

The night ended with a few tears and a standing ovation for CNO Mary Contreras who is retiring next spring and stepping down from her role leading the Value Analysis process. But as she noted, this process has become infused into our Community culture – the idea of thinking outside the box to find a more efficient way to deliver amazing patient care.

Shannon Merritt and Erin Kennedy
Senior Communications Specialists
Community Medical Centers