Leaders greet new staff at orientation

New Employee Orientation is a whirlwind day for new UF Health Shands employees. They’re introduced to the organization, they complete Hospitality and Service Standards of Behavior training and they learn how to work safely in our complex health care environment. But new staff often get a surprise visit during training.

Ed Jimenez, UF Health Shands CEO, and Irene Alexaitis, D.N.P., R.N., NEA-BC, UF Health Shands Hospital chief nursing officer and Nursing and Patient Services vice president, visit orientation several Mondays each month.

“This is the most fulfilling part of my work week,” Jimenez said. “We get to see new UF Health team members and let them know how valued they are.”

During a recent class, the two leaders introduced themselves, shared meaningful stories from their years at UF Health and gave advice. A common thread in their discussions was hospitality.

“We’re a team, and you’re very critical to our success,” Alexaitis said. “Our patients come here for world-class, top-of-the-line physical care because we’re known for that. But once they’re here, we need to provide the kind of care that comes from the heart.”

Jimenez pointed out that being hospitable and welcoming is a multifaceted effort.

“We’re here to make sure when you think about hospitality, you know your senior management team truly does believe that you are the heart and soul of what we do,” he said. “Hospitality is a function of not only how you relate to patients and families, but also how you interrelate with your colleagues.”

Their time wrapped up with a Q&A session and the two noted that nothing was off-limits.

“Ask us anything,” Jimenez said. “We’ve been known to confirm or deny rumors.”

Several attendees laughed and raised their hands.

Here are answers to staff questions from Ed Jimenez and Irene Alexaitis:

Q: You mentioned that you like to hear about accomplishments and great things staff do on a daily basis. How do we get in contact with you?

EJ: Always feel free to email us or talk to your manager or supervisor! A big sadness of mine is that I hear about the incredible things that our employees do long after the fact.

Q: How is the hospital incorporating primary care into the system?

IA: One of the things we do is to ensure that when a primary care patient comes into the E.R. , the patient’s doctors are called. The patient is discussed and information is shared. We really try to establish a great working relationship between the hospital providers and our patients’ primary care physicians. We have a lot of joint programs that make sure the communication is there. Whether you’re employed by the college or hospital, the focus is the patient. That’s what makes us such a great team.

Q: What is your vision for UF Health in the next five years?

EJ: Patient safety and quality care are No. 1 on our list. Every day we have a chance to make a dramatic difference in people’s lives. Another priority is becoming a better organization for our patients. At the simplest level, we need every faculty and staff member to think about what the patient is going through and really put themselves in the patient’s shoes.

Email Ed Jimenez at jimedw@shands.ufl.edu and Irene Alexaitis at alexai@shands.ufl.edu.