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Initiative Identifies Best Practices in Health Care Work Force Development

Case studies highlight organizations investing in entry-level employees while improving business performance

SEATTLE, Feb. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --After working 20 years as a medical assistant in Group Health Cooperative's physical therapy department, Leslee Thompson decided to take the plunge and go back to school, something that would be near impossible without the support of her employer.  She was selected to participate in a unique program offered by her employer to help her become a licensed practical nurse. The program paid her tuition and wages while she was in school.  In return, she committed to work at Group Health for two years after she became a licensed practical nurse.  She completed the program in 2004 and has been happily working in her new role at Group Health since.

Group Health's workforce education program is one of several profiled in a series of case studies released today by the Hitachi Foundation's Pioneer Employer Initiative.  Launched by the foundation in 2008, this initiative showcases businesses, including hospitals, whose innovative strategies to invest in employees benefit both shareholders and lower-wage workers. The initiative was created to identify employers offering education and training opportunities for low-wage American. The program uncovered how business investing in entry-level workers gained a competitive edge and higher profits through the development of a highly engaged work force.

The Hitachi Foundation turned to the Washington State Hospital Association's Health Work Force Institute to lead the search for innovative organizations in the health care sector.  The institute profiled  11 organizations and  developed tools other hospitals and health systems can use to follow in their footsteps.  Participating hospitals and health systems include:

  • Advocate Lutheran General Hospital - Park Ridge, Illinois
  • Bassett Medical Center - Cooperstown, New York
  • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center - Boston, Massachusetts
  • Faxton-St. Luke's Healthcare - Utica, New York
  • Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center - West Islip, New York
  • Group Health Cooperative - Seattle, Washington
  • Northwestern Memorial Hospital - Chicago, Illinois
  • Providence St. Peter Hospital - Olympia, Washington
  • Thompson Health - Canandaigua, New York
  • UNC Health Care - Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Virginia Mason Medical Center - Seattle, Washington

"Given the challenges facing our industry, hospitals and health systems will need to find ways to promote the best from all their employees.  This initiative provides the blue print for those organizations ready to take the next step in investing in entry-level workers," said Scott Bond, CEO and President of the Washington State Hospital Association. 

"Investing in the education of our staff makes sense because they already know and are invested in the health care environment. So, if they can grow and advance within our organization than it's a win/win for everyone," said Susan Meenk, Vice President for Human Resources at Providence Health & Services, Southwest Washington.  Providence St. Peter Hospital was another Washington State hospital profiled in the case studies.

A key element to the success of many hospital programs was progressive human resources policies, such as providing benefits to part-time workers and allowing them to participate in the trainings. Additional findings to help other organizations start similar efforts are included in a toolkit developed as part of this initiative.  The toolkit includes a matrix that will allow hospitals to quickly determine the type of project to explore, based on their own needs, as well as tips for collaborating with post-secondary institutions.

Additional information about the initiative, including the eleven case studies and toolkit is available for download from

About the Foundation: The Hitachi Foundation is an independent non-profit philanthropic organization established by Hitachi, Ltd. in 1985. Our mission is to forge an authentic integration of business actions and societal well-being in North America. Our strategic focus through 2013 is on discovering and expanding business practices that create tangible, enduring economic opportunities for low-wealth Americans, their families, and the communities in which they reside—while also enhancing business value.

SOURCE Washington State Hospital Association

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