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n 2012, Lowell's two hospitals, Lowell General Hospital and Saints
Medical Center merged under the LGH umbrella. The consolidation
of healthcare in the city, with the newly unified hospital running
two campuses the LGH Main Campus in the Pawtucketville
neighborhood, and the Saints Campus across the Merrimack River
in the Belvidere neighborhood presented opportunities and
challenges for hospital administrators.
To meet those challenges, LGH called on one of its strongest
community partners to assist in making the consolidation as
efficient and seamless as possible. Middlesex Community
College's Corporate Education & Training Department
answered the call.
"We are committed to the ongoing development of our workforce and
Middlesex is a key part of that," said Lowell General Hospital Presi-
dent Jody White. "I'm very encouraged we have a partner like MCC.
No matter what the challenge, they know we will be knocking on the
door to ask how they can help, and they will."
Working closely with MCC's Judy Burke, Dean of Corporate and
Community Education & Training, and Corporate Education &
Training (CET) Program Manager Lisa Tuzzolo, last year LGH
obtained a $244,000 grant from the state's Health Care Workforce
Transformation Fund. It was used to train 190 hospital supervisors
and executive leaders in "lean" practices to minimize waste of
material, effort and time. One of those lean initiatives involved making
sure all emergency-room treatment bays include the same equipment
and are set up exactly the same way, to save time and streamline the
patient-care process.
LGH employs more than 3,500 people from a wide variety of
backgrounds, including many who do not speak English well.
Through a state Department of Higher Education Rapid Response
Grant, Middlesex made it possible for the hospital to offer those
employees onsite ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages)
classes specialized to include medical terminology and phrases
often used in the hospital setting.
"Employees are eager to engage in the workplace, but need to
learn some English first," said White. "And it is a huge benefit for us
to have multi-lingual staff available when translation services
are needed in the emergency room at 3 a.m."
Another prime example of the LGH/MCC collaboration is the
development of a Certified Healthcare Access Associate (CHAA)
examination-preparation course for hospital front-line employees
tasked with handling patient intake, registration and access. Offered
as an open-enrollment noncredit course managed by MCC Program
Manager Sheila Morin, CHAA exam-prep is available to all hospital
workers, but many LGH employees have enrolled.
After taking the prep course the first of its kind in the nation
employees sign up to take the certification examination established
and governed by the National Association of Healthcare Access
Management. "Our challenge was how to take these middle-market
employees and establish a professional credential. Everyone likes to
see a credential after their names," said White. "And the
college stepped up."
The curriculum for the month-long CHAA prep-course was
developed by Sue Hunt, retired Middlesex faculty member and
former Chairwoman of the Medical Assisting Program, and Angel
Pepin, Director of MCC's Academy of Health Professions (AHP). They
were joined by Sandra Clay-Hillyard, LGH's Director of Patient Access,
and Linette Farris, LGH's Patient Access Manager for the Emergency
Department and Admitting. The four have also taught the course,
which has been offered for three years.
"It was great that Middlesex asked us to be so heavily involved,"
said Farris. "The perception of patient-access workers has been
elevated so dramatically in recent years, they really need to be
true professionals."
Clay-Hillyard said one of the goals of the course was to give the
staff a better understanding of not only what they do in their own
roles, but also why they do it and how their job fits into the larger
cycle of patient care.
Lowell General Hospital Called
and Middlesex Answered
Corporate Partnership