When Richard D'Aquila joined Yale-New Haven Hospital in 2006 as executive vice president, he introduced a series of birthday parties that have become popular monthly events. Employees and volunteers on both campuses are invited to attend a morning, noon or late afternoon party during the month in which they celebrate their birthday.
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Employees may attend their birthday party on the campus of their choice. On the SRC, lunch will be served; on York Street, breakfast and late-afternoon snacks will be served. The first party on the Saint Raphael Campus was held on January 28 in the event room of the Selina Lewis Building where employees enjoyed pizza, salads with grilled chicken and miniature birthday cakes.
"These birthday parties provide us with one way to say thank you and have fun at the same time," said D'Aquila, who is now president of YNHH. "Another tradition is the birthday video that is made by employees, for employees."
Before introducing the video, D'Aquila updated employees on the first quarter of 2013, which ended on December 31, and early January results.
"We have hit record numbers of patients on both campuses — and that's without counting the influx of patients with the flu. You have hit a record 400 patients on this campus more than once and we have had record days with a combined census of more than 1,400," said D'Aquila. "During a difficult time, you are making patients comfortable and providing excellent care."
D'Aquila also pointed out that during the first quarter, the hospital grew by 4 percent while the state continued to shrink. "We are the busiest hospital in the state and that reflects the power of two hospitals getting off to a good start," he said.
D'Aquila noted that the next five weeks will be equally challenging as the hospital continues to care for patients while preparing for The Joint Commission (TJC) extension survey on the SRC. "We are working on clutter — we are clearing the hallways and making sure exits are free; we are getting rid of equipment or storing it properly," D'Aquila pointed out. "TJC is looking to see that we are working as one hospital, with standardized policies. But getting our house in order isn't just for the survey — it is for every day."
Paul Patton, vice president, Administration, addressed the guests. "Open forums, leader rounding, lanyard give-aways, birthday parties — these are your opportunities to learn more and to ask questions. Take advantage of them," he advised.
Patton then introduced the birthday video made especially for the Saint Raphael Campus parties and titled "The Best of Yale-New Haven — So Far." He told employees, "We take our work seriously but wedon't take ourselves seriously!"
As she was returning to work, Katie Brady, RN, Labor and Birth, said she was glad she had attended the birthday party. "This was very warm and welcoming, the film was great and I have a good sense of the direction we are going and that we are growing.
"The integration has been a huge transition and morale was down but people are realizing that Yale-New Haven is committed to this campus and we can be part of the growth," said the 27-year SRC veteran. "Now we can go back and tell people they should come to these parties — they're fun and you learn something."
Another birthday party attendee, Ginny Einhorn Steller, MSW, geriatric service coordinator, Senior Services, enjoyed the event so much she emailed D'Aquila a thank you note.
"I wanted you to know what a great ‘lift' the noon birthday party was today!" Steller wrote. "I think our campus had lost some of its spirit over the last few years, wondering how things would work out individually and for the Saint Raphael campus in general.
"I left the Selina Lewis building with a big smile while humming the Mamma Mia tune from the employee video! I commend you for not only supporting such activities but being there in person — along with a great group from Administration," she continued. "Although I will be retiring in March, I leave feeling hopeful that the hospital I began working for in 1994 is heading in the right direction with a lot of caring people!"