George Blike, MD
Chief Quality and Value Officer
What is your fondest memory from your 25 years working at Dartmouth-Hitchcock?
I have many wonderful memories. One of my favorites occurred as a pediatric anesthesiology in the PainFree Unit. A Child Life Specialists and I worked with a teenage boy with Down’s Syndrome. He needed regular blood tests, but had developed a significant phobia of needles from traumatic experiences with previous blood draws. To safely and successfully draw blood, many adults had to secure him to limit his wriggling. Over time, his phobia increased as dreaded approaching the hospital. To help with his phobia, we developed a plan, collaborating with both the patient and his mother, to bring him to the hospital daily to gradually re-introduce him to the steps in the blood drawing process. In a week, he adjusted to coming into the hospital—an experience that had previously resulted in crying and screaming.
The following week, I met him daily inside the Pain Free Unit; he found joy in showing me his Pokémon cards. Within two to three months, he was comfortable entering the procedure room and having his blood drawn. His mother appreciated our efforts to develop and execute this plan. Blood tests, which were previously such traumatic experiences that the family would dread them weeks in advance, became something he could do with ease, and he, rightfully so, was proud of his accomplishment. As a thank you gift, he gave me one of his favorite Pokémon cards. It can be rewarding to support a patient to overcome barriers to optimal management of a chronic condition; resisting or refusing blood draws can be disruptive and stressful for patients and their families. I was grateful for the opportunity to intervene and change this patient’s experience.
What about your work/job inspires you?
How much medical care has changed in the last 25 years inspires me. It is an incredible privilege to be part of a profession that continues to find new and different ways to prevent illness, diagnose conditions and reduce or relieve pain and suffering. I am also inspired by how often we are able to pull together a medical team with unique specialty expertise that addresses what is needed for a specific patient situation. When I find that I am caring for a patient with needs that exceed my specific expertise, I have consistently been able to promptly access dozens of talented peers that immediately help solve the problem and bring the best possible approach to care for that patient. This willingness to understand our individual limits, and mobilize a “team” with the general and specialty knowledge and skills needed—no matter what the scenario—I have benefited from both professionally and personally when our family has needed care.
What do you like best about working in your department?
What I like and have liked best about my Department, both past and present, are the people. I have worked clinically in the department of Anesthesiology, an amazing and dedicated crew. I have also had the opportunity to work in the areas of quality and patient safety over many years of my career at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. And, in more recent years, worked in and led the Value Institute, which helps to coordinate nursing quality, standards work, systems engineering, project management, volunteer services, and the spiritual life program to foster and prioritize a better patient experience.
All of these moving parts are unified to create collaborative systems that work together to reliably deliver the best care possible. While I am sure that everyone claims that the best part of their job is the people they work with, I can genuinely and sincerely say the people in the Value Institute are among the best colleagues I have ever encountered. While they clearly care about delivering quality care and bettering the patient experience, what sets this team apart is their ability to establish long-term goals and plans for how to systematically improve the care at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. Their ability to persevere and follow through on these plans—no matter how many obstacles they may encounter—is truly remarkable.
When I first started working in the Value Institute, we set out to create world-class care at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, establishing goals over a 10- to 15-year timeframe. What is incredible is that this team has actually, and exceptionally, stuck with this plan, staying the course and trusting in a disciplined data-driven approach that was not always praised as flashy or innovative, but with perseverance and dedication, has consistently proven to get results. I have been so fortunate to work with colleagues in the Value Institute who were individually willing to both reinvent programs for learning and improvement at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and to reinvent themselves in ways that have cumulatively and significantly improved care for so many of our patients.