Better Than Most is a regular feature of The Business of Giving, examining the best places to work among social good businesses and nonprofit organizations.
Denver: And for this edition, you’ll be going out Duarte, Califonia just the outside of Los Angeles and to the headquarters of City of Hope known for the being one of the best cancer treatment and research centers in the world. Let’s hear from some of the dedicated and passionate members of the team as to why it is such an exceptional place to work.
Monica: When we talk about our values and how they’re brought to life, you can walk just about anywhere on campus and be reminded of the importance of the work that you do. There’s one piece of art that just stands out for me, and it is two hands grasped together, and it’s not a perfunctory handshake, but it is a firm grasp. To me, it symbolizes our commitment to our patients and to our colleagues as well; that would be true too. It says, “We’re here for this journey with you, and we’re going to walk alongside you, and we’re not going to let go.”
Peter: Talking about our values and the mission, and how all of us down the line absorb and create this mission. I think it also comes—I’ve observed in the business world long enough— that it has to come from the very top, from our leadership. They live and breathe our values and our mission in such a way that it becomes infectious, if you will, for the managers and the leadership below them in terms of a hierarchal below, to do the best we can for every patient that we come in contact with.
Ammar: The culture of City of Home that resonated with me during the interview process was their bench to bedside model. Prior to this, I was on the East Coast where there was a lot of layers before you actually had an idea that went to the patient, and that could have taken up to a decade to two decades. Versus here, I’ve seen products that started in the lab and were in patients within five years, or half a decade. So, that expediency and sensitivity to what’s needed for patients is what resonated with me; and that’s what I love about City of Hope’s culture.
Laura: Something that I’ve really caught on to is that there’s not only a focus on curing, but also a focus on caring. It’s really this deep compassion all of our doctors and nurses have with the people that they care for. It’s a very mission-driven organization. The first day of welcome, at orientation, you hear patients speak about their experience, and it really just drives home why we’re all here and what we’re all contributing to at the end of the day.
Christina: The City of Hope values are compassion, service with a sense of urgency, integrity, intellectual curiosity, excellence, and collaboration. As I was walking here today, I walked past the wishing trees, thinking about all of our patients and the hope that they have here when they come to City of Hope. Writing down their thoughts and their hopes, and that we are all here so that those hopes can become a reality for them, no matter where they are in their treatment. That compassion, really, it strikes through, and it makes me really proud to work here at City of Hope.
Morganna: One of the things that really attracted me to City of Hope as a community was how City of Hope engaged with the community. I see how much we try to integrate with those in the community around us and how we see our patients as a community that we continue to interact with. Since I’ve been here as a big proponent of skin cancer prevention, I’ve been really fortunate to work with community engagement projects, including skin cancer awareness and prevention projects that we’ve done here on campus, as well as a pilot sunscreen program. For me, it’s not just about curing cancer, but it’s about preventing it, and I really love that that’s a big part of the message that we have here.
David: There’s different ways of working that I’ve come across throughout the organization with respect to giving feedback, and I think it’s about being constructive. It’s always with the idea being that you’re looking to make your fellow colleagues better. Getting them to think outside of the box… Look at different ways of doing things… Being innovative and things of that nature. I think if we take that approach with respect to feedback, I think it can be helpful if everybody helps everybody learn to grow.
Christina: One of which has been widely successful for us is we did get feedback that our staff wasn’t hearing enough from our senior leadership team. So, our team decided. What about if we do a quick, 30-minute, once a month, high level from our leadership team on where we’re at in terms of reaching our goals and financials and any key messages that might not be trickling down. So, we opened it up to everyone to dial in and just take 30 minutes once a month. We’ve opened it up in terms of topics, so people can submit topics and questions, and it’s really created this culture of inclusion and filling part of a larger team.
Morganna: I think another important point when we talk about feedback is also the feedback that we solicit from our patients. Patient satisfaction is a pinnacle of the care that we provide here. It’s very important to us that patients feel cared about, and we actively solicit their feedback and their experiences. Everything from how it went when they checked in at valet, or how it went when they checked out of their visit with me. When we have our disease team meetings, we will go over the patient survey experiences so we can look for the areas that we’re doing well and the areas that we can improve on. The feedback is an important component of the patient care experience, as much as it is how staff are performing.
Ammar: So I think that level of engagement again, made me feel part of a family where we have trust and transparency, and I think that’s my parting message for City of Hope where we’re all unified towards targeting cancer cures and diabetes-related cures but at the same time, we’re working together as a team in a circle with the patient at the center of the circle. I think that’s what gets me excited to come to work.
David: One of the things that really distinguishes City of Hope from other organizations is the fact that we’ve been able to break down those kinds of silos. There’s a lot of collaboration that takes place on a daily basis. In my role at the resource center, I typically can deal with anybody from philanthropy, to clinicians, to research folks all in one day, all in one time. It brings me great pride and makes me very happy to know that I can pick up the phone and call a colleague that I maybe have never spoken to my entire time of working here, but they literally will drop what they’re doing to take the time to help me answer any kind of question that I need… which ultimately leads to getting the best care possible to our patients in a very timely manner.
Laura: I want to talk about diversity and inclusion. How does diversity and inclusion manifest itself at City of Hope? I think, in addition to attracting a diverse and inclusive workforce… our HR Department is really focused on that. Also, once we get people here, we also want to make sure that everyone feels welcome on our campus and included. So we have a team in HR that is specifically designated with doing that, where they work with diversity resource groups. We have eight different groups on campus. Some of them are Pinoys for Hope, Latinos for Hope, Veterans for Hope, Pride in the City. They host events throughout the year that everyone can attend. We just celebrated Lunar New Year. It’s really not just about attracting a diverse talent and workforce, but also once they get here, making sure everyone here is included and welcome. That’s really a big initiative here.
Christina: I’m going to go back to what we’ve been talking about —what makes City of Hope unique and special… and I just think about the investment that City of Hope has made in its people, and really preparing all of us for success, preparing us for the big transformation that we continue to go through. I think about unique things like our learning and personal development week. What that is is a week dedicated to learning, and I think that that goes back to our values, to our pillars in action.
Monica: One of my favorite days of the year is the annual transplant reunion where survivors travel from far and wide to the Duarte Campus, and they join us in the celebration of life. Each survivor displays a large button of the number of years they are post-transplant. Some have one year, and some have 30-plus years. It’s a day when everyone on campus is a part of the transplant process.
Peter: So, I have two of her plaques on my wall in my office, and whenever I’m on the campus, whenever I can if I have to walk from one end to the other, I always make sure I walk from the area and my grandmother was honored and I walk into my office seeing my mother’s plaques there. For me, I’m not only working as hard as I can and as smartly as I think I am, for the next generation but I’m also paying homage to my past generation who had a place here at City of Hope also, and here I am in the middle doing something for the next generation and honoring the past generation as well.
Morganna: I also try to get a sense of what’s important to them in terms of their remission; what are their goals? Are there certain vacations that they’re planning to take with their wife? Or is there a certain grandchild that might be graduating, and they want to be around for that? And he said, “You know Doc, I just want to be able to take my wife to Red Lobster because I really love the Cheddar Bay biscuits there.” I said, “Oh, I love them too. They’re probably my favorite thing to eat there.” And I said, “I promise you that we will get you well enough so that you can go back.” We treated him with immunotherapy, and 12 weeks later, thankfully and miraculously, his brain metastases and his metastases inside his body had gone into remission, and he had clean scans. As a way to thank me, he and his wife brought me a box of Cheddar Bay Biscuit Mix from Red Lobster. I had completely forgotten that we had had that conversation. Just for them to remember that, and remember that I had asked them something that made them feel special; and then they, in turn… as a way to thank me, had come up with that… That was a moment where I felt really special, not just because I was able to do something good for them, but because they felt like thanking me in that way.
Denver: I wanna thanks Zen Vuong, and to all those who participating of this piece Ammar Chaudhry, Morganna Freeman, Christina Sermak, Monica Munaretto, Laura Pentini, David Trejo, and Peter Mackler. To hear this again, read the transcript and see pictures of the participants and the City of Hope campus, simply come visit denver-frederick.com
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