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By Dr. Claire Neely, ICSI President & CEO Lately I’ve been part of several conversations centered on “flattening the curve” and what that means for all of us.  The good news is that under the leadership of our local government and thanks to the extraordinary efforts of Minnesotans across the state, we have flattened it.  We now have the hospital beds, ventilators and other equipment we need to care for the people who most certainly will continue to become seriously ill from COVID-19. What concerns me at this point, however, is that some people are equating “flattening the curve” with a return to our pre-pandemic lives.  Of course, within all of us there is the hope that soon we can go back to “normal”. We miss our lives as they were, and being with the people we love. Unfortunately, the truth is that the “normal” we all long for is at minimum many months away. And honestly, we may never go back entirely to the way things were before the pandemic. We’ve done a good job of slowing the rate of infection, and given our hospitals the time they need to prepare for caring for people who will be getting quite sick from COVID-19 for months to come. But that is just a start. In fact, we now have another large hurdle to overcome.  We need to regain ground where other important healthcare have been delayed. We need to “catch up” in several important areas of healthcare. For example:
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By Sarah Horst, ICSI Team Director For the last six months I have been conducting a workshop entitled Lead Courageous Quality Improvement with Improv and Collaboration for audiences around the country. My job at ICSI is to do “capacity building” for healthcare leaders who know what they want to do technically, but are often stuck in the activities of how to get it done. The challenge with the how is often related to psychology – how people think and feel about the change. Within the healthcare industry there seems to be a lack of formal training to address the mindset needed for change. To address that need our team at ICSI  developed the Quality Improv(e) Framework. The Quality Improv(e) (pronounced improv) Framework  marries the science of improvement, which relies on testing hypotheses and learning through small iterative tests of change, with the art of improvisation, a mindset of agility, adaptability and collaboration at its core. The Guiding Principles within the Framework are:
  • Trust - Trust yourself and your partners.
  • Awareness - Tune in to what’s happening around you.
  • Acceptance - Say “yes” to your circumstances.
  • Movement - Say “and” to continue moving forward.
  • Empowerment - Be free to explore bold ideas and take safe risks.
  • Commitment - Stay fully engaged to the end.
In my workshops, I coach leaders to access their confidence and bravery as they tackle the challenge of leading complex systems change. I have taught thousands of people that the most powerful tool in quality improvement is the thoughtful conversation and that “courageous QI” involves cultivating an improvisational approach to navigate the attitudes and behaviors that help and hinder collaborative change. I believe this work can transform teams. And then came the coronavirus. In the weeks following school closures and stay-at-home orders being issued, my various inboxes were inundated with solutions for “these difficult times." This included homeschooling suggestions, work from home suggestions, and my utility companies and the businesses I patronize all telling me that “we are in this together.” Professionally, I was encouraged to quickly convert the Quality Improv(e) content to video and be part of the hopeful solutions that were so desperately needed.  If ever there was a time for an improvisational mindset, surely it was now. But I froze.
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By Dr. Claire Neely, ICSI President & CEO
In the past few years, our healthcare industry has done a better job of addressing issues around mental health for our healthcare professionals with new programs to help promote the wellbeing and emotional resiliency. Some medical schools are trying to reduce the impacts of physician burnout with training that teaches a more balanced, therapeutic relationship between doctor and patient, as opposed to the more traditional, hierarchical experience most of us were shown.

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To slow the spread of COVID-19, Governor Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health issued a stay at home order last week directing Minnesotans to limit movement outside of the home beyond essential needs. Based on our experience with other infectious disease epidemics like measles and polio, we need all Minnesotans to take this order seriously.

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As a physician, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the greater risks associated with COVID-19 for people with chronic conditions. And I’ve also been thinking about how many people may not realize they actually have a chronic condition. For many people, their chronic health conditions are well managed, and don’t limit their day to day activities. But, they may still be at increased risk of serious illness, if they are infected with COVID 19.

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In our Board of Directors meeting last week several of our ICSI leaders were discussing how grateful we are to reside in Minnesota during this time. As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread in our state, our Minnesota healthcare community of providers, clinics, physicians, plans and partners are prepared for a biological emergency like COVID-19.

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The Zero Suicide Initiative, a new partnership between the MN Health Collaborative and MN Department of Health, will launch on May 1, 2020 with the Zero Suicide Summit. The new Zero Suicide initiative will help design and nurture a less fragmented system to support patients at risk for suicide based on the nationally acclaimed Zero Suicide Model.

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Last spring the MN Health Collaborative announced a new set of evidence-based recommendations for suicide prevention and intervention in Emergency Departments. These standards, adapted by work groups consisting of physicians and other leaders from Emergency Departments and psychiatry, are rooted in the mix of combined experience of MN Health Collaborative's members, shared learnings about tools and current or planned practices in use, and review of existing relevant literature.

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