published Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Erlanger tab for Ritz-Carlton services climbs


by Chris Carroll
Erlanger Hospital
Erlanger Hospital
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Erlanger Health System has paid Ritz-Carlton $430,500 for customer service instruction, records show, not $388,000 as hospital officials told the Chattanooga Times Free Press earlier this month.

Through a hospital spokeswoman, Chief Nursing Officer Lynn Whisman said when she originally spoke with the newspaper, she was “in her car, on her cellphone, and did not have specifics” with her “which may explain slight discrepancies.”

Besides managing luxury hotels, Ritz-Carlton has a Washington, D.C.-based “corporate university” that focuses on customer service in different fields, officials said.

Erlanger ranks last among Chattanooga’s three major hospitals in federal patient satisfaction statistics maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The measures explore quality communication, cleanliness and staff responsiveness, among other categories.

Along with presentation costs, Erlanger must pay for all travel items reported by the Ritz team, including “air travel, ground travel, hotel accommodations, Internet access, meals, tips and all other reasonable expenses,” according to contracts obtained last week.

In January, Ritz officials spent six hours observing Erlanger operations and eight hours showing their presentation to executives for a fee of $35,000, or $2,500 an hour.

An additional $107,500 went toward “culture advisory services,” the contracts state.

In October, a Ritz-Carlton “service excellence” expert will hold 12 three-hour sessions — the hospital initially said they were four hours each — titled “Back to Basics.” Each session will hold 400 employees, and the bill for all 12 sessions is $288,000, records show.

Whisman has said Ritz-Carlton plans to focus on medically related training, but also “simple stuff — interpersonal skills that make a difference. It’s not rocket science.” She cited eye contact as an example.

The public hospital has prohibited the media from attending the sessions, citing proprietary information that Ritz-Carlton prefers to keep confidential. Further, the contracts prohibit Erlanger from distributing the lessons being taught “in any format or media.”

The hospital has allocated an additional $71,000 toward unscheduled customer service training for physicians, bringing the potential total that Erlanger will pay Ritz-Carlton to $501,500.

Russell King, an Erlanger trustee, said he realized the partnership may appear “ostentatious,” adding “it would be a shame if we learned the lessons for six months or a year and then went back to old habits.”

“We want to be No. 1 in customer service, and that’s what Ritz-Carlton really concentrates on,” he said.

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sandyonsignal said...

Absurd waste of money. Why won't the Times Free Press print the two hospitals that bid for this contract? I think hospitals with a good reputation would be a far better consultant in patient care than the restaurant/ hotel industry.

Erlanger's Board sure knows how to throw money away and spend recklessly.

September 25, 2011 at 10:36 a.m.
eastridge8 said...

No big shock here...WE all saw it coming....why can't local government/politicos? Oh wait!! Guess they had a "hand" in there somewhere too....Ya think?

September 25, 2011 at 12:19 p.m.
eileen said...

If you ever had a loved one at Erlanger Hospital, then you know this hospital needs help. The staff (generally speaking) does not appear to be well-trained in the care of the patients entrusted to them. Erlanger may have the most "up-to-date" equipment, but that is meaningless to me if they don't care about the cleanliness, care and attention to detail of the patients. Time and time again, I witnessed lack of professionalism, lack of adequate training in transmission of body fluids, lack of appropriate response to machine malfunctions, and a non-responsive attitude when concerns are brought to their attention. If the money helps bring better service to the sick and injured people of Chattanooga, then it is money well spent. However, I have my doubts that training the executives will help the service employees.

September 25, 2011 at 1:24 p.m.
328Kwebsite said...

I don't feel a half million dollar smile on my face for their efforts in spending our money.

How much does the Stupidity Avoidance class cost?

Can we have a six pack of that for the board of directors? Make it a double, and hold the political kickbacks. We can already see that the Republicans are spending taxpayer dollars in Hamilton County on themselves in preparation for their stealthpac tax evasions in support of the upcoming elections.

We look forward to seeing these crooked crony Republicans thrown out of office, entirely, as a direct result of their corrupt conduct.

Vote Obama 2012.

Local Republicans' corrupt conduct has cost us:

$328,000 website (including obvious misuse of $60,000 in taxpayer funds)

$500,000 unnecessary contract buyout of School Superintendent

$500,000 School Superintendent Crony Replacement Costs

$125,000 County Chief of Staff salary for Senator Corker's right hand man.

Five county deputies fired to pay for the new County Chief of Staff

Police parking problem

Police vehicle refitting problems (Ford Focus, VW Jetta station wagons, electric tricyles)

$10 Million Dollar "redefining" of liability in the city budget

Secret, self-appointed city/county elections with kickbacks and swaps

Firefighter pay problems obliquely described by City officials

Generalized mistreatment of public works and parks and recreation employees by ignoring them when they needed PR and accounting support (Darde Long and the Zoo. Outdoor Chattanooga's lack of accounting support. Arts Education Council maltreatment.)

Put a stop to crony politics in Chattanooga. Stop electing rich elite people who want to decorate their resume with another title.

Hire a mayor. Elect city officials. Expunge local corrupt Republicans from office as soon as elections will allow.

September 25, 2011 at 3:22 p.m.
328Kwebsite said...

That $328,000 website is still not up. Adjusting the margins on the old website is not worth $328K.

When are we going to see any results for these millions the local Republicans are siphoning off from the budget? Evidently, never.

September 25, 2011 at 3:37 p.m.
ceeweed said...

$42,500.00, a "slight discrepancy"? How many Chattanoogans make $20.00 per hour working full time? In a year this would still be less than what Chief Nursing Officer Lynn Whisman calls a "slight discrepancy"....These administrators do not get it and never will. People whose jobs are to serve the public should already have empathy, concern, and compassion for their clients...You do not need the Ritz to teach you that. You cannot teach empathy, concern, and compassion...You can coach someone how to fake it... Phony concern sticks out like the fake, friendly banter of your local T.V. news team....By the way, I got some crappy service from an indifferent staff at The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans, on a recent stay in the Big Easy.

September 25, 2011 at 4:16 p.m.
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