The Key to a Successful Plan

The Key to a Successful Plan

Practice makes perfect in executing your vision.
Runner preparing to run.

Like many people around Jan. 1, Toni Gross decided to focus on exercise for the upcoming year. But this wasn’t a typical New Year’s resolution.

Members of the leadership team at Children’s Hospital New Orleans annually ring in the new year by forgoing the traditional resolution in favor of choosing a single word to serve as their focal point for the next twelve months. For 2022, Toni Gross selected “exercise,” and she’s giving it quite a workout—it remains her mantra to this day.

“The principle is not to keep the same word year after year, but I'm still holding on to ‘exercise,’” says Gross, M.D., MPH, FAAP, FAEMS, chief of the emergency department at Children’s Hospital New Orleans. “The best-laid plans are only words on a piece of paper if you don't exercise them and know how to do them when you need to.”

It’s a concept Gross and her team have put front and center as they address emergency department crowding. The rising demand for ED resources means children’s hospitals must maximize everyday operational efficiency while remaining prepared for occasional spikes in visits—like those caused by the onslaught of RSV, influenza, COVID-19 and pediatric behavioral health issues in late 2022 and early 2023.

“As you try to eliminate waste, you also have to build in some reserve capacity,” Gross says. “Otherwise, you won't have room for surges.”

That’s where regular exercise becomes crucially important.

“Let's say we come up with a surge plan, write it down and say we’re going to do it; if you haven't practiced doing it, everyone may be confused about how it’s supposed to work when the time comes,” Gross says. “When you plan your work, you have to work your plan—and it works best if you exercise it.”

Read more about the ED crowding challenges facing children’s hospitals in the summer edition of Children’s Hospitals Today.

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