Deployment to Support the Indian Health Service (IHS) Great Plains Crisis at Winnebago Hospital, 2016
By LCDR Israel Cross, PhD, MA
Division of Quality Improvement & Innovation Models Testing
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
What was the mission of this deployment?
The mission was to provide urgent relief to a public health crisis at the IHS/Winnebago Hospital.
What was your role during this deployment?
I served as a Quality and Process Improvement (QAPI) Specialist and Compliance Officer to aid the facility in regaining its Medicare certification. Some of the duties entailed: revising the hospital QAPI plan and grievance policy per CMS hospital regulations; and meeting with the hospital IOP/QAPI director to evaluate the appropriateness of hospital QAPI performance indicators to meet compliance standards, based on the hospital’s high-risk, problem prone areas to increase patient safety.
Was this your first deployment?
What was the most important thing you learned during this deployment?
How important listening (first) and becoming fully immersed in your deployment environment (mentally, culturally, etc.) is to having a successful mission. It makes it easier for you and all those you interface with during the deployment.
What did you enjoy the most about this deployment?
Spending time with the hospital staff who shared a number of stories about their culture, traditions, and courtesies.
What would you consider to be your major accomplishment stemming from this deployment?
My efforts helped address 43 deficiencies found in a hospital survey, leading to policy change and systems improvements.
What were some of the challenges that you experienced during this deployment?
Not having one "true" source of information; there were bits and pieces from different departments in the hospital. Therefore, information gathering efforts took longer than desired.
How did you prepare for the deployment – personally or work-wise?
Clearing my head of preconceived notions about what the deployment would be like, and opening myself to be in the moment as soon as my boots hit the ground. In advance of the deployment, I wrote up a SOP of all of my work and periodically checked in after hours to make sure the work was still progressing.
Were there any classes, trainings that you had completed prior to your deployment that helped you in your current deployment?
Lean Six Sigma Green-belt certification.
How was your post deployment/reintegration experience? Was it smooth to transition back to your daily life as experienced prior to deployment?
It was a very smooth transition back into daily life. In fact, I still keep in contact with some of the people I met out there.
Do you have any advice or “pearls of wisdom” for fellow officers who are being deployed/interested in deploying?
Work hard and maximize your down time to avoid burnout. Listen upon arrival, work as a team, and BE IN THE MOMENT!
Is there anything else you’d like to share regarding your deployment?
This deployment forever changed my perspective in life for the better. I am also happy to share that a career opportunity presented itself months later to continue IHS work while working at CMS, but in a different capacity. I have used my field experience to enrich my current work. You never know what a deployment may lead to or what skills you'll pull from later on in life.
LCDR Cross on deployment at Winnegabo Hospital in 2016.
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