HCA Graduates at Work

Graduates of the health care administration program are making great strides in the local health care community through their Capstone Projects and related work at Marlboro College. Here is a sampling of their outcomes for health care organizations in the region. 

Kate McNally Receives Leadership Award

Kathleen “Kate” McNally is the program coordinator for the Cheshire Coalition for Tobacco Free Communities. Kate's Capstone Project was a smoking cessation program. Soon after graduation, Kate was awarded the Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene First Quarter 2013 Presidents’ Leadership Award. The Leadership Award honors employees who exhibit outstanding leadership qualities as demonstrated by excellence in caring, character, commitment, competence, and communication.

In recognizing Kate’s outstanding efforts, it was noted, "Kate McNally works on the front lines in our community, promoting healthy lifestyle choices with tireless effort and dedication to her work through the Cheshire Coalition for Tobacco Free Communities. Her work has affected policy decisions both in our facility and in our community and changed the culture of how people view the use of tobacco and address the barriers surrounding cessation of tobacco use. Through age-appropriate educational programs, her work engages children, adolescents, and young adults in ways that are meaningful to them, promoting healthy habits at an early age. As a resource to our medical staff members, Kate counsels patients and their families through the smoking cessation journey. Her compassion and responsiveness is apparent to all who benefit from her assistance and the results achieved."

Debbie Partrick: Developing a nurse mentoring program at BMH

"Nationwide statistics show that 1 in 4 new nurses leave their job within the first year of hire," said Debbie Partrick, nurse manager at the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital Birthing Center. "Data shows this occurs for many reasons, with the top reasons being a lack of team support and feeling unwelcome by co-workers. A committee at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital (BMH) was asked by our human resources department to find a way to improve retention and increase recruitment. The committee did research and came up with the idea of a nurse mentoring program to support and encourage nurses hired at BMH."  

Debbie undertook this nurse mentoring program as her Capstone Project in the MSM-HCA program. "In January of 2009, our first group of nurses went through mentor training and our program was launched. Since that time, we have had additional training and to date have 20 trained mentors. At the end of one year, our statistics showed only 1 in 8 new nurses leaving BMH. The mentoring program has played, and continues to play, a vital role in the retention of nurses for both new graduates and new nurses to our facility."

Lynne Fuller: Improving the Retreat’s practice management system

"Hospital business is tough these days," said Lynne Fuller, lead admissions coordinator at the Brattleboro Retreat. "Rising health care costs, decreased reimbursement and an increasing amount of uninsured or under-insured clients make the business of health care almost impossible. Most hospitals are looking improve legitimate revenue capture for the services they provide, and so is the Brattleboro Retreat. As a private non-profit in a small rural community, it has even greater challenges."

For her Capstone Project, Lynne developed a more robust practice management system for the Retreat. "This project focused on helping the Brattleboro Retreat collect the most accurate patient information as possible during the admissions process. The project aimed to: create and implement new computer screens within their current computer application system; train the staff using a variety of methods; and help clients become better informed of their health care options given their specific situation. The end goal was to strengthen the financial position of the institution, as well as make the process transparent for the clients."

Hilary Cooke: Planning the future of Sojourns Community Health Clinic

"Successful organizations reach a point in their development where defining questions involving strategy, finance, market and systems must be carefully reviewed and determined," said Hilary Cooke, a health insurance agent and founder of Health Plan Marketplace. "Sojourns Community Health Clinic, an integrated and multi-disciplinary medical practice located in Westminster, Vermont is at that crossroads. How do you advance the organizational mission, vision and values without disturbing its current formula and culture for success?

"My capstone project focused on examining the strengths of the clinic and leveraging those strengths to enter new markets. It was an exercise in coordinating a web of disciplines. Component disciplines involved project management, strategic planning, finance, organizational law, and marketing. The sponsor for this capstone project was the executive director at Sojourns Community Health Clinic. It is being used as a component in defining the future of this important health care resource in our tri-state region."

Jeffrey Kelliher: Search engine optimization for the Retreat website

"The Brattleboro Retreat website is currently undergoing a complete redesign and navigation refresh," said Jeffrey Kelliher, communications and media relations coordinator at the Retreat. "My Capstone Project dealt with optimizing the newest iteration of this website to ensure the highest rankings possible on major Internet search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. In addition to researching and employing a keyword strategy for content development, my Capstone involved the inclusion of search engine optimization (SEO) tools such as page titles, meta-tag descriptions, alt-tags, content formatting, 301 server side redirects and other goodies. Key deliverables for this project included an updated information design, creation of a content developer’s guide book and the establishment of key 'landing pages.'

"My Capstone made use of the following disciplines from my master’s program in health care administration: marketing, information technology, negotiation (contract with an SEO consulting firm), law (inclusion of a new, counsel-approved website disclaimer) and project management."

Sherry Providence: Online incident reporting at the Brattleboro Retreat

"Incident reporting in health care is a tool used to improve the safety and the quality of care an organization provides," said Sherry Providence, manager of quality improvement and risk management at the Brattleboro Retreat. "Data is analyzed to identify trends and inform change, and when done online that process is quicker. The focus of my Capstone Project was to complete the creation of, and the implementation for, a paperless internal reporting and tracking system of incidents that occur at the Brattleboro Retreat. 

"In addition to creating an online system where incidents can be reviewed as soon as they are written, managers now have a space for follow up and severity rating assignment. The online system decreases time spent on duplicative data entry and provides an avenue for increased accessibility to the incident information based on security access. Screen design, process flow and creation of reports were a part of this process as well as the education of clinical staff and managers. For many staff at the Retreat, this was the first time they had been expected to use computer technology in their job. Because the product will be used for our future EMR, logging into the program and navigating the system lays the foundation down to prepare people for this important change."

Nathaniel Shipman: A strategic plan for the Retreat's Ripley Building 

"The Birches Treatment Center (BTC) at the Brattleboro Retreat offers services for clients who are struggling with psychiatric and/or substance abuse issues," said Nathaniel Shipman, who did his Capstone Project on one of the primary buildings used in the BTC. "Patients transitioning from inpatient services and individuals referred from other providers can use the Ripley Building. It offers a private dormitory on the Brattleboro Retreat grounds as a housing option for clients while they attend the BTC.

"Standard processes did not align with current billing practices as the patients admit and discharge from Ripley, obscuring the impact this unique dormitory has on quality of patient care, lengths of stay and revenue sources at the Brattleboro Retreat. My project developed clear processes for documenting the use of the Ripley Building, assessing the effect that the dormitory had on revenue sources and addressing methods to maximize financial viability. In addition, this project addressed ethical implications resulting from the creation of a strategic plan for the Ripley Building in relation to quality of patient care."

Tin Barton-Caplin: Grant management for Central Maine Health Care

As executive director of Healthy Androscoggin, a community health coalition, Tin Barton-Caplin did his Capstone Project on grants management for the organization. "Healthy Androscoggin is part of the Central Maine Health Care Corporation, and is grant-funded. Funds primarily come from the State of Maine, but Healthy Androscoggin has also secured grants from the federal government as well as private foundations. Grants management at Healthy Androscoggin has been a challenge since I have come to the organization. The challenges are primarily due to two major areas:  (1) a lack of formal and standardized procedures and (2) a health care system’s accounting office that is not well equipped for grants management.

"Central Maine Health Care (CMHC) is positioning itself to secure more grants, particularly federal grants. To realize this goal, they need a stronger organizational perspective on grants management. Efficiencies could be gained in centralizing some functions of grants management. My Capstone allowed me to develop a model of grants management that can be expanded and modified to have a grants management system that would be appropriate for the whole CMHC system and other hospitals and health care systems."