Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital: Where the hospital meets hospitality

When I was at TEDx Alva Park last November, I kept hearing about this hospital, Henry Ford West Bloomfield. It was a topic of Henry Ford Health System CEO’s Nancy Schlichting’s talk : “An Idea on Leadership“. She referred to “thinking differently about hiring leaders,” which meant hiring Gerard van Grinsven as CEO of Henry Ford West Bloomfield ( @HenryFordWBH ) from the Ritz-Carlton organization. I checked it out online and even the web site has a different feeling than what you would expect from a hospital. I was determined to go see for myself.

Fortunately, the Innovation Learning Network ( @healthcareILN ) spring in person meeting would be hosted by Henry Ford, so they arranged it for our whole group, and we went.

We were toured by the hospital’s resident farmer (and they do have one) who told us about the Hospital Greenhouse that is now under construction. We learned that the revamping of the food choices has resulted in people from the community coming to eat in the hospital’s cafeteria. There’s a hair salon that produces wigs for chemotherapy patients, just right off the main street inside, where they have farmer’s markets and Joshua the therapy dog visits. There have been 7 weddings held in the hospital’s atrium. When Gerard found our tour, he quoted the statistic that the hospital receives 85% top box scores ( 5/5 ) from its patients in surveys. That’s the influence of hospitality.

Our group had lots of questions about sustainability and how this innovation can be affordable in an industry that is so challenged. I think it might be fair to say that some of the innovations here are unrealistic for health care to adopt on a wide scale. However, many of the innovations are realistic, and that was the point of the visit, to learn about something we had not seen before. Take a look at the photographs below and see for yourself.

When we got back to the main Henry Ford Health System hospital, we couldn’t help noticing the pizza place and donuts for sale there. The juxtaposition is well known to people here, and the key thing is that they now see a juxtaposition – where there used to be uniformity in un-health, now there is a noticeable deformity across this health system, that will tilt things the other way.

Thanks to Gerard van Grinsven and the Henry Ford WBH team for taking the time to show us what they’re learning.

Ted Eytan, MD