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Safety Officer II

Julia R
Meet Julia! Julia is a Safety Officer II for Medxcel in Southeast Michigan. In her position she is responsible for the Environment of Care Program and sits on the hospital committees for Environment of Care, Safety, and Emergency Management. As a safety professional, Julia is responsible for coordinating, collecting, disseminating, and intervening in all areas of safety and is accountable for identifying, preventing, and controlling hazards within the facility. Julia works with the customer and the Medxcel compliance team to maintain continuous survey readiness, complying with all regulatory agencies including The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), The Joint Commission (TJC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), state and local agencies, and identified industry best management practices (BMP). Julia regularly partners with Facilities Managers, other Safety Officers, and managers and staff at the facility, working together to ensure safety and compliance and achieve organizational goals. She is also responsible for implementing and maintaining the Environment of Care Program at her site, including safety and security management, fire safety, hazardous materials and waste management, medical equipment, utilities management, emergency management, and environmental stewardship.
 
“I feel Medxcel shines very brightly when it comes to training and education. Every year during the goal setting process we are encouraged to set a personal development goal. I have taken that to heart and Medxcel has supported me in obtaining my Certified Healthcare Safety Professional (CHSP) certification, and I am currently studying for my Certified Health Emergency Professional (CHEP) certification.”
 

Describe your day-to-day responsibility and a typical day.

There is definitely no such thing as a typical day, especially during the past year. But I would say a normal day’s activities can range from attending the daily safety huddle, which right now during COVID is a daily incident command call, weekly Environment of Care rounds, unannounced visits from MIOSHA, conducting onsite safety risk assessments, walking a construction project, and there are always administrative tasks to be completed. My schedule varies weekly. As the Joint Commission chapter lead for Environment of Care (EC) and Emergency Management (EM), I am also the EC/EM Committee Chair. So I have those meetings once a month. I spend approximately half of my time on foot rounding in the hospital, and the other half at my desk doing administrative work.
 

Describe the path you took to arrive in your current role.

My first job in healthcare was as a patient safety sitter at a different healthcare system. I eventually held positions in the Emergency Department as a technician aide and a data clerk in Occupational Health. After working in the Occupational Health clinic I applied for a position in the Facilities Department as a coordinator. While I had these jobs, I completed my bachelor’s degree and my master’s degree in healthcare administration. While I was working in the facilities department, our hospital transitioned ownership and Medxcel eventually took over facilities management responsibilities. I moved over to the Safety and Emergency Management team in the fall of 2017. It seems ironic now, but I did my masters thesis on the topic of employee injuries in the healthcare workplace and that was before I ever worked in Safety and Emergency Management. That really ended up tying in with my position now!
 

Has Medxcel provided you with training and development opportunities that have helped you along your career path? 

I feel Medxcel shines very brightly when it comes to training and education. Every year during the goal setting process we are encouraged to set a personal development goal. I have taken that to heart and Medxcel has supported me in obtaining my Certified Healthcare Safety Professional (CHSP) certification, and I am currently studying for my Certified Health Emergency Professional (CHEP) certification. A few years ago I took a course that was really valuable called “What to expect when MIOSHA shows up on site”. The information was terrific and walked us through exactly what to do when a Michigan OSHA inspector comes to our facility. As a young professional, new in my career, it was extremely helpful since I had not yet had much face-to-face experience with surveys. Michigan is one of three states that has unique state-specific OSHA requirements, so it was important for me to learn the particulars that pertain to Michigan. When inspectors come on site their requests vary, depending upon whether they are inspecting a specific complaint or just conducting a routine visit. If it’s a complaint, they might want to see a specific unit that may have been involved, and they will need to see the logs that I am responsible for maintaining. In the past few years there has been more involvement from MIOSHA than normal due to COVID. I work closely with the Medxcel regulatory team and they are very helpful and supportive.
 

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is knowing that I directly impact the safety and wellbeing of our staff and patients. In some ways, the little tasks I do each day may not seem that important or to directly impact the employees and patients, but when you look at the big picture, our work here is extremely meaningful and impactful in terms of safety. We do not provide bedside patient care, but we are definitely in the business of providing patient care.
 

How has the COVID pandemic impacted your position as a Safety Officer?

The time beginning in Spring of 2020 has definitely been the most challenge time in my career. My hospitals in Michigan were hit very hard with COVID. I serve two facilities, one with 400 beds and another with 120 beds. The first wave of COVID hit us like a freight train. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the term ‘flashbulb memory’. The term is used to describe the way a person recalls every single detail about a specific event that occurred in the past. Many of us have a flashbulb memory of where we were and what we were doing when the Twin Towers were hit on 9/11. I know I can still recall every single detail of that day. Well the day we were hit with COVID is another one of those flashbulb moments for me; words simply cannot describe the emotions and feelings that we were feeling in the hospital. Ironically, it was Friday the 13th, March 13, when we received the first confirmed COVID diagnoses within our site. I remember being with my CMO and other leaders and we were walking the hospital, discussing how we would address the need for COVID testing and how we would handle the expected influx of patients. I remember that I was outside walking when we all received a message from our infection prevention lead telling us that we had our first confirmed case; that’s when it hit us, this is real; it’s here; it’s really happening.
 
As difficult as the pandemic has been, I must say that all of our staff including local leadership and the C-suite of our facilities have become much closer and have really learned how to work together. It was almost as if everyone’s walls came down once we were in this crisis situation. We came together in a way I didn’t expect.
 

Which of Medxcel’s Core Values are most important to you?

Integrity and Dedication are my favorites of the Medxcel Core Values. The very definition of integrity is having the quality of honesty and having strong moral principles. To me, dedication is defined as being dedicated or fully committed to a task or purpose. Every day I dedicate myself to doing my best work to serve our staff and patients. That really describes my job responsibility in terms of safety and emergency management. I can’t think of any two better words to summarize my role as a safety officer.
 

Have you learned anything unexpected in your role?

During the COVID pandemic we have learned so much. Of course we never expected a worldwide pandemic, but we prepare as best we can for anything that’s thrown at us. Working through the pandemic brought all of us in the hospital closer together than ever. It seemed to be an equalizer in a way; barriers were down, everyone was hurting and vulnerable, and we all showed our “true colors” and that’s a good thing. We were all impacted by COVID and we had to work together to keep the staff and patients in our facility safe during a frightening time while information was changing daily. In my world, COVID turned out to be a great equalizer.
 

What would you say to someone who asks you if they should consider working for Medxcel?

I recommend Medxcel as a great place to work for anyone who is looking for career growth opportunities. Medxcel is very big on education and providing associates with opportunities to learn and grow. Medxcel is a still in its infancy as an organization, but since it began, I have seen the company itself constantly improve and grow. It’s a great place for young professionals to come and build a rewarding career. And although every site and state differs, as we grow we are working to standardize operations which makes it even easier for associates to move to new locations and quickly become successful.
 

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