Hats off to the Clinical Center for winning two Plain Language awards during the first annual "Celebrating Plain Language at the National Institutes of Health" awards ceremony, March 5.
The CC won in two of four categories. Maureen Kennedy, R.N., and Cheryl Fisher, R.N., won in the Superior category for "7E Cardiology Unit Patient Information," a website that introduces incoming patients to the unit with information on the facilities, life on the unit and tests and medications patients may undergo or be prescribed.
CC Director Dr. John I. Gallin, Linda Silversmith, Ph.D., CC Communications and Dr. Gregory Curt, NCI, won in the Outstanding category for "Standards for Clinical Research within the NIH Intramural Research Program" The standards were developed to help ensure patient safety and high quality in NIH's intramural clinical research programs.
"Winning these prestigious plain language awards demonstrates NIH's success in communicating useful information, something we have striven for, for many years," said Ruth L. Kirschstein, acting director of NIH.
More than 100 submissions were received by the Plain Language Coordinating Committee, ranging from websites, journals, calendars and a traffic sign.
Pulitzer-prize-winning author and Washington Post "Book World," Senior Editor Michael Dirda spoke to more than 70 award recipients in Lipsett Auditorium about the power of clear and simple language.
"As scientists and administrators, you have all been taught the cardinal virtue of plain prose. If writing is communication, then only clear writing is effective communication," said Dirda.
Plain language is clear and effective writing that communicates with a specific
audience so that the audience can fully understand the information provided.
In 1998, President Clinton issued a memorandum requiring use of plain language
in all government documents written for the public that explain how to obtain
a benefit or service or how to comply with a requirement. A government-wide
directive requires all Federal agencies to use plain language in all documents
written for the public by January 2002.
For the past three years, the Housekeeping Department has made efforts to improve the level of customer service provided to the Clinical Center. Today, those efforts have paid off. With new management and training, the Housekeeping Department has marked its course for a stellar reputation.
"Housekeeping had a bad reputation, but it doesn't anymore," said Henry Primas, chief of the Housekeeping and Fabric Care Department (HFCD). "We are not at the point where we want to be. We want it to have a sterling reputation. But at least the people have a sense of pride in their work and the management is more credible."
Part of that credibility came through a training program targeted at supervisors, that not only taught the theories of proper management, but also gave opportunities for workers to move up and not remain complacent.
"The old supervisors did the best they could, but they were never trained in how to be supervisors," said Primas. "Through this program, they learn not only how to supervise, but how to do the jobs of everyone they manage."
The year-long program begins with intense classroom training that focuses on infection control, safety issues and quality customer service. Trainees are taught management theory and leadership development skills and are also given hands-on assignments in public speaking and professional writing.
"Where there were deficiencies, we corrected them with job skills training and academic education," said Osmond Adams, assistant chief of HFCD.
Trainees are continuously tested throughout the program, given homework and take outside classes at local facilities and community college. Each trainee must pass a final examination with 80 percent or better before being placed in a supervisory position.
"There is potential for serious injury from lack of training," said Marie Vought, training coordinator for HFCD. "It's our responsibility to ensure that employees are equipped to do their jobs safely and efficiently."
Vought joined HFCD in 1999 and began training staff members. The department soon realized there was a need for supervisory development. In response, Vought developed a training program to prepare candidates for supervisory positions. "People were being promoted from within the ranks, but weren't given the tools necessary to suceed in their new positions," said Vought.
James Jackson was there when the breakdowns began. Jackson has been a supervisor for 10 years, but it wasn't until he went through the training that he fully understood what it is to be a supervisor.
"We were made accountable. Before, no one was made accountable and things went haywire. Now I have confidence because I know what is required of me and I know how to do it," said Jackson.
As part of the training, Adams places trainees on a floor and assesses their work, how they dress, their communication skills and professionalism. Trainees that are lacking in certain areas must take that portion of the training course over.
"This program gave me the skills to do my job effectively. Everyone says they can be a manager, but there is a lot to it," said Chauncey Buford, a manager in the HFCD, and a product of the training program.
For 15 years, Buford wore a housekeeping uniform, mopped the floors, picked up trash and cleaned the bathrooms. He took on leadership roles, which eventually moved him to a housekeeping aide and later to an assistant supervisor. Adams selected Buford as one of the initial four trainees to join the program last March.
"I have a lot of confidence now," said Buford. "When I leave my job, I have a different smile on my face. My friends see me and they can tell that I'm doing something with myself."
Sandra Bowles agrees that there have been positive changes not only in the managerial staff, but with the type of service provided. "I was a little concerned when we were told there were going to be changes. I thought the changes might be for the worst," said Bowles, a nurse manager in the CC nursing department. "They have taken extra steps to get things done. I am so impressed with the changes."
Once a week, Bowles walks with a housekeeping manager and is asked to rate the level of cleanliness and point out at least three areas that need to be approved upon. "We have a great deal of respect for the department because they fill a need. Being a nurse and being in patient care, we understand that and have a great deal of respect for their work," said Bowles.
And that was the ultimate goal of the HCFD staff. "There is now a greater focus on customer service and our supervisors are more confident and more competent," said Adams. "The department now has more solid leadership at higher levels and provides good service to the Clinical Center."
Hazardous chemicals are everywhere. From the correction fluid on your desk to the preservatives used for clinical specimens. But to what extent should you go to protect yourself from the harmful effects? What if you come in contact with something you are not sure is harmful? Don't you have a right to know?
"It's not necessarily a right to know, but have to know," said Dr. Michele Evans, environmental safety officer. "It's good business that we want our employees to know what they are using."
An Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulation requires that employees know the risks and follow precautions to minimize exposure to hazardous chemicals at work. The regulation, referred to as Hazard Communication, is also known as (your) "Right to Know." According to Dr. Evans, manufacturers are using fewer hazardous materials in their products and the Clinical Center has taken steps to use those safer products.
In 1996, an initiative was undertaken to rid the Clinical Center of mercury in medical devices and laboratory chemicals. To date, the Clinical Center is clean of mercury-containing devices and uses safer instruments and chemicals that perform the same job.
"But when there isn't a substitute, we want employees to know how to handle hazardous materials," said Dr. Evans.
The Clinical Center uses policies and procedures, Material Safety Data Sheets, warning labels, and training programs to teach employees about chemical risks in the workplace. Chemical manufacturers prepare an MSDS for each of their products, which describes the scientific and chemical trade name of the product, its physical and chemical properties (e.g. vapor pressure, reactivity or flash point), health hazards and recommendations for safe use and emergency response procedures. The Clinical Center has adopted the Hazardous Materials Identification System, which assigns a numerical score to varying levels of hazardous materials.
The Safety Office is currently preparing a hazard communication book that will contain a description of the Hazard Communication Act, the Clinical Center guideline for identifying hazardous chemicals and a list of commonly used products and their respective safety data sheets. The book will be delivered to all clinical areas by September.
Dr. Randall Robinson, president of the Washington-based TransAfrica and TransAfrica forum and author of The Debt - What America Owes to Blacks, was the keynote speaker during the annual African American History Month observance. Dr. Robinson, along with the University of Maryland Baltimore County Gospel Choir, celebrated in Masur Auditorium with the theme "The History of Medicine and Science in Creating and Defining the African American Community."&
"In Black History Month, we will talk in these 28 days about how many things George Washington Carver did with that peanut, what Sojourner Truth did, where Harriet Tubman went, what Frederick Douglas wrote, how Malcolm was brave and how King did this, that and the other," said Dr. Robinson. "It represents a period scarcely three centuries long for a people who have civilization, culture, memory and story that are thousands of years long."
The Department of Transfusion Medicine is in critical need of type O blood. Several recent surgical procedures have significantly depleted the inventory of this type blood. If you have type O blood, please donate by visiting the Blood Bank, Room 1C-713B, or call 496-1048 to verify the best time to donate. We need your help to contintue to supply blood to our patients.
Interpreters are needed in the following languages: Farsi, Cambodian, French and Haitian. If you are fluent in these languages and would like to volunteer, please contact Andrea Rander at 301-496-1807.
CC News on web
Did you know that the Clinical Center News is online? Visit us at http://www.cc.nih.gov/ccc/ccnews/current.
You are invited to attend the Thyroid Cancer Support Group for survivors, families and friends, every second and fourth Tuesday of each month from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Meetings are held in the Social Work Conference Room 1N248, Bldg. 10. For more information contact Margaret Sarris at 301-496-6020.
NIH general parking permits for campus employees whose last names begin with E, F, or G will expire on the last day of March. To renew yours, visit the NIH Parking Office in Building 31, Room B3B04, weekdays between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Please remember to bring your valid NIH identification card, driver's license and valid vehicle registration certificate for each vehicle to be registered.
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development invites healthy women, ages 45-70, to participate in a study of a new investigational hormonal treatment for menopause. You may be eligible if you are not diabetic, had no menstrual periods for at least one year, do not take hormone replacement therapy, do not smoke and have not had a hysterectomy. Participation involves brief weekly outpatient visits over 8-10 weeks. Compensation is provided. Call 1-800-411-1222 (TTY: 1-866-411-1010).
College-educated adults ages 30-50, are needed for a two-day outpatient study with the National Institute of Mental Health. Involves blood draw and routine clinical, neurological and cognitive procedures. Compensation provided. For more information or to volunteer, please call 301-435-8970.
The Behavioral Endocrinology Branch, NIMH, is seeking female volunteers ages 18-55, to participate in studies of the effects of menstrual cycle hormones on brain and behavior. Must have regular menstrual cycles with no changes in mood in relationship to menses, be free of medical illnesses and not taking any hormones or medication on a regular basis. You will complete daily rating forms and be offered participation in one or more protocols. Payment will be in accordance with the duration of each visit and the type of protocol. For more information, call Linda Simpson-St. Clair at 496-9576.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke seeks families with stuttering or speech articulation disorders. Compensation provided. For more information call 1-800-411-1222.
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development is seeking women, ages 18-42, to participate in a study comparing bone density in healthy women. You may be eligible to participate if you have no medical conditions, a regular menstrual cycle, not pregnant, nursing or planning pregnancy over the next three years, do not use oral contraceptives or prescribed medications, smoke less than two cigarettes per day, and drink less than two alcoholic drinks per day. Participation involves four visits over a three-year period, blood test, bone density test, urine test and cognitive testing. Compensation is provided. For more information call 301-435-7926 or 301-594-3839.
The Clinical Neuroendocrinology Branch is seeking people with current or past depression, as well as matched normal controls, to participate in an evaluation study . Participants must be 18-65 years old; medically healthy; nonsmokers within the past year, able to participate in studies involving at least a one night stay at the Clinical Center. Eligible volunteers will receive a physical evaluation, metabolic studies and participate in studies for possible heart disease in depression. Compensation provided. For more information call 301-496-5831.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is seeking volunteers, ages 18-50, with asthma made worse by exposure to allergens (dust, pets, pollen) for a research study of allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots). Participants will have allergy and lung function tests and will have blood drawn. For more information or to volunteer for the study, please contact Mary Huber at 301-496-7935. Compensation provided.
Back and leg pain
The NIH Pain Research Clinic is conducting research studies to improve the treatment of chronic back and leg pain. They are interested in pain resulting from a pinched lumbar nerve caused by conditions such as a herniated disc, a bone spur or arthritis. You may be able to take part if you are age 18 or older and if you have had pain in your back and leg or buttock for the last 3 months. Call 1-800-411-1222 (TTY 1-866-411-1010).
National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is conducting a study to test the safety and effectiveness of a potential new Crohn's disease treatment against a placebo (a substance that neither harms nor helps). If you are 18 or older with moderate CrohnÕs symptoms, call 1-800-411-1222 (TTY: 1-866-411-1010) for more information.
The Behavioral Endocrinology Branch is seeking female volunteer mothers ages 18-40, who have had one or more past episodes of postpartum depression following a full-term pregnancy. Must be six-months post-delivery and not lactating, have no current symptoms of depression and must be medically healthy and medication-free. Volunteers may be asked to participate in a six-month protocol investigating the effects of ovarian and stress hormones on brain behavior. Compensation provided. For information call Linda Simpson-St. Clair at 301-496-9576.
The National Institutes of Health seeks people 18-65, with early onset or later stage TMD for a study testing treatment medications against placebo. Call 1-800-411-1222 (TTY 1-866-411-1010).
This page last reviewed on 09/9/09