Meet Ralph Thomas, a program manager for Clinical Transformation who is responsible for implementing strategic initiatives focused on process improvement, operations and performance across our organization.
First starting at Northwell as an intern with our IT Project Management Office in 2015, Ralph collaborated closely with cross-functional teams and received a great introduction to tech project management in healthcare – an introduction that would make a lasting impression on him. After gaining experience elsewhere, Ralph knew he wanted to return to Northwell and to the work that we are doing here every day to make a difference in our communities.
Accepting a position as a project manager on the Clinical Transformation team in 2017, Ralph had the opportunity to successfully advance clinical programs such as his work on the Sepsis Taskforce which works to reduce sepsis mortality within the organization. Ralph also plans and coordinates two internal learning sessions a year to gather all task force members to discuss and report out on breakthroughs. Since the inception in 2008, the task force has successfully decreased Northwell’s sepsis mortality rate by 64%. It’s an important project that Ralph still works on in his role as program manager.
And as program manager, Ralph is continually creating and implementing new clinical programs that help increase the skills of our team members and the efficiency of our facilities in innovative ways. Recently during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ralph developed and taught the first virtual improvement science program for the Behavioral Health service line that included educational sessions, interactive activities and coaching.
Building leadership skills at Northwell
Northwell’s Center for Learning and Innovation (CLI) also played a major role in teaching him new skills and developing the leadership qualities his own manager saw within him. CLI provides development courses for all our team members, including project management classes and programs Ralph enrolled in such as LEAN, Six Sigma, Intro to Project Management and the Change Acceleration Program. He credits these programs for teaching him processes that help him identify opportunities and barriers in a project and effectively brainstorm to create new solutions.
Along with providing Ralph important tools and methods for project management, CLI’s programs gave him the opportunity to work on projects within the organization. As part of the Six Sigma program, Ralph was assigned to co-lead a project at Glen Cove Hospital that created a standardized discharge process for patients from inpatient to subacute rehabilitation facilities. Ralph and his team used the tools he had learned in the Six Sigma course to work on this project which successfully led to a decrease in unnecessary transfers to the ED and readmissions while improving patient satisfaction.
According to Ralph, in order to succeed we must always be continuously learning. “Northwell has a wonderful resource for employees to develop their skills in the Center for Learning and Innovation. These classes were beneficial to building my professional skillsets along with learning the organizational structure.”
Connecting Northwell to our communities
Beyond leading projects, Ralph is co-chair of Northwell’s African American/Caribbean Business Employee Resource Group (BERG). Open for all team members, the role of our BERGs is to provide resources to ensure we have an inclusive environment where all feel accepted and respected. For Ralph, one of the most exciting parts of being a co-chair is being able to cultivate a trusting and safe work environment for all.
Beyond supporting diversity and inclusion within our organization, Ralph is passionate about the work our BERGs do to organize and drive events for the individuals we serve within our regions. “Being a co-chair of a BERG allows me to be a part of a bigger initiative that directly impacts our communities in and out of the workplace,” says Ralph. “I suggest all team members join a BERG to engage with others across the organization while making an impact on disparities in our communities.”
The experience Ralph has gained at Northwell has expanded what he does outside of our organization as well. Ralph not only serves as the Diversity and Inclusion Chair for Healthcare Leaders of New York but is an active member of the National Association of Health Services Executives, a prominent non-profit association of Black health care executives. Last summer, he participated in the Greater New York Hospital Association Summer Enrichment Program where he mentored a graduate student through a 10-week program to discuss professional development, work/life balance in the healthcare industry, and future planning.
“Healthcare and our world are changing every day, and I am part of the next generation of leaders that will elevate the delivery of quality healthcare services,” says Ralph. “I’m proud to work for a truly patient centered organization where we think about the communities near our hospitals and the NYC metro region as a whole.”
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