MedWest asks patients: What do you want?

news medwestThe new CEO of MedWest-Haywood is rounding on the county, asking residents about the hospital’s past performance and how to improve in the future.

“I really want to engage your community,” said Janie Sinacore-Jaberg, who came on board with the hospital late last year.


Jaberg is proctoring small community input sessions around the county to gauge what the public perceives as MedWest-Haywood’s strengths and weaknesses. Nearly 20 people showed up for one of the many listening sessions last week at the Colonial Theatre Annex in Canton. A few were past hospital employees; others were community leaders and the rest were citizens with a vested interest in the hospital.

The meeting started off with a series of multiple-choice questions to collect demographics and general feedback. Questions included: Have you ever visited MedWest-Haywood for outpatient services? How would you rate your experience? Would you return?

Each session has brought different responses, Jaberg said.

“Every group has had a different demographic, which is good,” she said.

One of the more telling moments was the hypothetical question: what would keep you from using MedWest-Haywood? The question was intended to ferret out the most important issue for patients — the one thing that would make or break their choice of what hospital to go to. Nearly half said quality of care. Billing problems and reputation ranked second and third, respectively. 

Another question centered around emergency room service. Of those who’d been, would they go back? Of the few who had been, most said “no.”

“I appreciate your candor. This is exactly the information we need,” Jaberg said.

After the multiple-choice portion, Jaberg opened the floor for discussion, asking people what problems or jobs they would tackle first if they were CEO.

“We have a billing issue. We know that. We are working on it diligently, and we are making great strides,” Jaberg said. “Let’s talk about the things I don’t know.”

One man pointed to MedWest-Haywood’s reputation in the county and employee turnover.

“Find out what their real issues are in the exit interviews,” said John Laursen, a former Mission Hospital employee from Waynesville. “I think the real negativity in the community is coming from former staff members.”

He added that the hospital could do little things like improve signage and other little customer service things to win Haywood County residents over. 

Tausha Forney encouraged Jaberg to seek out underserved minorities, people who would not typically come to sessions like that one, at their churches or community centers.

“A lot of people are not comfortable coming to a place like this,” Forney said.

Partnership with community groups or Haywood Community College could help MedWest-Haywood reach more people.

“You could mobilize so much quicker than doing it yourself,” said Laura Leatherwood, vice president of student and workforce development at HCC. “You can’t go it alone.”

Part of the challenge facing MedWest-Haywood is that people don’t forget even the little things that irked them about a hospital stay or health care experience years ago.

“It still happened to you; you still remember it; and it still bothers you,” Jaberg said.

To help ensure that administrators at MedWest-Haywood are interacting with patients and that patients have someone to voice their complaints to, Jaberg has instituted administrative rounding. Each day, administrators visit different people in the hospital.

“Patients know that we know they are here,” Jaberg said.

Despite complaints about past care and worries about future visits, people at the session agreed that a hospital is needed in Haywood County.

“If we did not have MedWest, it would not be good, so we have to support it,” said CeCe Hipps, executive director of the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce.

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