In January, Susan McDonald, MD, was named the new director of Organizational Excellence for Sentara RMH Medical Center.
“Dr. McDonald brings a unique combination of medical expertise and process improvement knowledge to this new role,” said Dale Carroll, MD, chief medical officer and senior vice president, Clinical Excellence for Sentara RMH. “We are excited to have her on our team.”
Dr. McDonald and her staff use Lean Six Sigma principles and tools to improve processes in the workplace by eliminating unnecessary work and other forms of waste. Their goal is to improve efficiency, increase workplace safety, promote quality care, and enhance patient and employee satisfaction. They also seek to cut costs wherever possible without sacrificing quality, efficiency or safety.
The Organizational Excellence team works closely with staff members from other departments and services.
Dr. McDonald has more than 18 years of clinical and administrative experience in healthcare. Before she assumed her new role at Sentara RMH, Dr. McDonald served as Vice President of Medical Affairs for St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Stockton, Calif. from 2010 to 2013.
“In my previous role, I was very much involved in process improvement,” said Dr. McDonald. “You would be surprised how much waste you can find when you map out a process using the Lean tools.”
Dr. McDonald’s involvement with process improvement projects goes back to her time as a faculty anesthesiologist at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, Wash. from 1999 - 2007.
“Virginia Mason was one of the first hospitals in the nation to adopt Lean principles from industry and apply them to healthcare,” she said. “My first Lean project was helping improve how inguinal hernia surgery patients go through the system. We followed the patients and all the steps they and everyone working with them took, and identified all the stall points and wasted steps. We ended up streamlining the recovery process not just for inguinal hernia patients, but for all the outpatient surgery patients. Going through that whole process and applying those principles was fascinating to me.”
Dr. McDonald graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. She completed an internship and anesthesiology residency at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, Wash. and a fellowship in cardiothoracic anesthesiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo. She is Board-certified in both Anesthesiology and Perioperative Transesophageal Echocardiography. She is a member of the American Society of Anesthesiology, the International Anesthesia Research Society, the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesia and the American College of Physician Executives.
In addition to her administrative role, Dr. McDonald reads intraoperative transesophageal echocardiogram studies for the Sentara RMH cardiothoracic surgery program
. The studies, she explains, reveal structural abnormalities of the heart and help the surgeon in his surgical approach.