Project Description

Fostering dramatic performance improvements in healthcare

Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital


“The ties between the cultural improvements we’ve fostered and the dramatic performance improvements we have achieved are direct and profound. We thought we knew about our culture when we started this work, but 3 years later we realize we’re just scratching the surface.” -Russ Myers, COO, Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital

Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital’s culture was, by everyone’s estimation, a good one. Compared to its peers, the hospital performed well. Patients were satisfied and quality and safety standards were being met. Yakima’s objective in working with Inside Results and The Pacific Institute was to measure its culture against high performing organizations in order to identify areas that could be fine-tuned and in the words of CEO, Rick Linneweh, “keep the focus on continued improvement.”


Areas for improvement were identified and Russ and the management team set to work. “What sets Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital apart from many organizations,” reflected Joe Atteridge, Managing Partner at Inside Results, “is that the senior management team, from the CEO on down, fully embraced and engaged in the process of not only understanding culture but of adjusting their own personal leadership styles to foster a highly constructive culture.”


The results speak for themselves. There were some real gains made as a result of the changes in culture and work behavior. Myers said, “Initially, we did not understand the significant impact culture can have on performance. Investment in Excellence helped us understand the attributes of a healthy constructive culture and when you combine honest communication, teamwork, goal setting and achievement with the tools and resources, almost anything is possible. I could not have imagined how quickly and how much we have achieved in the last 3 years.”

The results:

  • An 80% decrease in Serious Safety events over the past 3 years leading to a period of over one year with no events.
  • Surgical operations improving room utilization by 40% in a mere 30 days
  • An Emergency Department that saw a 300% reduction in patients left without being seen while volumes have been at all time record levels.
  • A Laboratory that significantly reduced its stat lab results and variance.
  • Discharge times that now better match the demand for admissions.

Russ can go on for hours citing the improvements due to their change in culture. Listening to him speak, one theme stands out – trust. “The level of trust between departments, levels and functions. It has unleashed a potential that we were unable to access in the past”, he says. As an example, he cites the amazing teamwork from all across the hospital that helped them finds ways to deal effectively with a biennial $6 million cut in state funding in just a few weeks.

Russ and the YVMH leadership modeled the right way to engage in a culture initiative. They have been deeply engaged in understanding their culture and very focused on how to adjust their leadership styles to bring about the spirit of collaboration across the hospitals many areas of operation. They named their initiative, Into the Blue (taken from the color of the constructive section of our culture tool) and promoted it across the entire organization. Yakima’s CEO, Rick Linneweh, personally recorded videos and gave numerous presentations to the staff explaining his view on the importance of the initiative.

They arranged for every employee to participate in the Investment in Excellence program, which gave them the tools of personal change, and coupled it with, Process for Cultural Growth, which charted out the culture they wanted to establish at YVMH. Russ believes that the results speak for themselves and, while he acknowledges that they have been using other methodologies to bring about specific improvements in their various operations, he sees the cultural work as the foundation needed to make these other efforts successful.

The Yakima team isn’t satisfied that they have reached their ultimate goal of a highly constructive culture and continues to work on improving themselves. Russ has said Into the Blue is not just an initiative but a journey they will be on for years to come.