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An Eye for Quality

Posted on April 10, 2018

Former Harriman principal, Bobby Renfro says his treatment at RMC was better than MD Anderson.

Bobby Renfro walked into the administration office of Roane Medical Center wearing his “principal’s face,” and he was looking for Jason Pilant, Roane’s chief administrative officer (CAO).

“Is the CAO of this hospital here?” he asked Beth Kincaid, Roane’s executive assistant sternly. “I think I actually scared her,” he said later, “because the look on her face was like, ‘Uh oh … John Jones, please come to the office.’”

But Renfro was there to share good words and praise for Roane Medical Center for quality care during his recent four-day hospital stay. “I just wanted to come down here and thank [the CAO]”, he explained, noting that he considered his hospital experience to have been “really well organized and effective.”

Renfro should know about quality, organization and effectiveness. His post-academic career was spent as director of workforce development for the U.S. Department of Labor. That’s where he became an expert at recognizing problems in failing companies, recommending improvements, or closing the business and retraining workers for new careers.

But Renfro saw no problems at RMC.

“Everything was really just shockingly good,” said Renfro, who has business experience in the healthcare world. He developed nurse training for displaced workers and studied quality control standards at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. “My treat­ment was better than any­thing could ever be any place else, including that of MD Anderson.”

Renfro’s visit to RMC’s administration offices came about two weeks after he awakened at 4 a.m. with heavy internal bleeding caused by a ruptured colon infection. 

At the hospital, he was greeted immediately and sent back for a battery of tests to determine the prob­lem. “As soon as I walked into that emergency room, the woman at the desk could tell I had an issue,” said Ren­fro. “She asked my name and date of birth, then she hollered for a gurney, which came immediately and took me back to the emergency room.”

Over the next several days, Renfro said he saw other marks of excellence. “They don’t treat you like you’re a number,” he said. “Every person was friendly and every person made sure I felt like the most important person in there.”

“Of course, I pay atten­tion to things that maybe other people wouldn’t pay attention to,” he said. As an example, he said that ser­vice coordination between departments was obvious, much like a relay team hand­ing off the baton.

Renfro said he wanted to thank Pilant because the staff “needs to be recognized for the good jobs they do. These are the things that make the system ef­fective,” Renfro added. “It’s not the big deal that they did some innova­tive new surgery. It’s the woman out front that greets you. It’s the guy that parks the car for you. It’s the cook that cooked the food for you. Total teamwork solves most problems.”

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