17 Great ASCs to Work For

Ambulatory Surgical Center of Stevens Point (Stevens Point, Wis.)

Annual Volume: 1,100 procedures

Specialties: Urology, podiatry, pain management, orthopedics, ophthalmology, general surgery and plastic surgery

What makes it great: When the Ambulatory Surgical Center of Stevens Point opened in 2006, all of the staff was already hired, with many of them handpicked by the physicians. A slow start for the center, with only 81 patients in its first few months, did not cause the physician owners to make any changes.

“Obviously with very low volumes, the tendency would be for a layoff or reduction in staff,” says Becky Ziegler-Otis, administrator for the ASC. “Instead of doing this, the staff were kept busy as much as possible during the hours they were promised. This meant those with benefits were kept at their same benefit level. This was extraordinary for a startup operation and all of the startup expenses incurred. The owners kept their promise to their selected employees.”

This loyalty has been reciprocated by the staff — there has not been a single employee turnover since startup, says Ms. Ziegler-Otis. The physicians recognize the value of the staff, frequently discussing patient care and operations with them. Employees receive a recognition lunch reach month and the center celebrates notable accomplishments, including rewarding employees with lunch bags with the center’s logo on them after setting a new record for number of cases seen in a month.

AtlantiCare Surgery Center (Egg Harbor Township, N.J.)

Annual volume: 12,000 cases

Specialties: GI, ophthalmology and pain management as its top three

What makes it great: Staff happiness and commitment to excellence are such critical components of the success of AtlantiCare Surgery Center that a committee was assembled made up of staff members — called “The Best People Best Workplace” — with the primary task of presenting thoughts and ideas to the center’s management for how to maintain an excellent working environment.

By following a motto of “happy employees make happy patients,” the center, which opened in 1997 and is part of a large health system (AtlantiCare, with the surgery center falling under the AtlantiCare Health Services division), is constantly striving to improve the well-being of its staff. There are quarterly incentive bonuses, holiday parties, birthday lunch celebrations, free bagels daily, summer evening boat cruises, gym memberships, Weight Watchers at Work financial support, summer lunch barbeques, 401k contribution and recently a 10th anniversary celebration that saw staff members receive fleece jackets with the center’s logo.

Boulder Surgery Center (Boulder, Col.)

Annual volume: 3,000 cases

Specialties: Specializes in orthopedics, podiatry and pain management

What makes it great: The Boulder Surgery Center (BSC) has made itself a great place to work by focusing on teamwork and keeping the number of staff small so as to encourage closeness and a vested interest in the success of the center, says Cindy Parsons, clinical manager for the center’s PACU. The owners of BSC, which opened in 2005 and is a partnership between the physician owners and Boulder Community Hospital, reward staff members for their work and dedication to patient satisfaction and quality care.

“The staff receives bonuses every quarter based on meeting mutually agreed goals,” says Ms. Parsons. “BSC is a very positive and upbeat place to be, and we have an annual holiday party with the physicians and a summer party just for the staff. It’s the innate commitment we all hold to provide excellent patient care and have fun doing it that makes this the best job I’ve ever had,” she says.

Cypress Surgery Center (Wichita, Kan.)

Annual volume: More than 10,000 procedures

Specialties: Gynecology, orthopedics, otolaryngology, general surgery, GI, urology, plastic surgery, oral and maxillofacial surgery and pain management

What makes it great: Discounted YMCA memberships and company trips are just some of the perks of working at the Cypress Surgery Center. Staff members are rewarded because the center’s leadership views their work as critical and appreciates the effort they commit to quality patient care.

“Cypress Surgery Center was founded by Drs. Michael Brown, David Grainger and Bruce Tjaden with the theory that, to achieve a culture of success, we must provide quality care by hiring key employees that were experienced and committed,” says Judy Graham, administrator for Cypress. “To that end, we have aligned incentives — lunches, bus trips, gift cards and also a bonus incentive program — in order to give something back to them.”

Cypress, which is a joint venture with Symbion that opened in 2000, has received recognition for its commitment to the staff as a local business journal has named Cypress a “Best Place to Work in Wichita” for two years.

DuPage Orthopaedic Surgery Center (Warrenville, Ill.)

Annual volume: 2,000 cases

Specialties: Orthopedics and pain management

What makes it great: By encouraging staff members to share their thoughts and ideas about the ASC’s operations and encouraging a team mentality, DuPage has flourished and kept its staff happy in the process. The ASC has doubled the number of operating rooms (from two to four) since the facility opened in 2006. In some matters of interest to the entire staff, such as determining days for paid time-off, DuPage has created staff committees to address these issues to encourage outcomes the staff can find reasonable.

The center’s physicians are on staff at two area hospitals, one of which recently ranked 37th in the country for orthopedics in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals Report.” These physicians and the center’s anesthesia team regularly find opportunities to spend time with and get to know the staff members.

“Staff enjoy their time with the physician’s and on long surgical days, being able to have lunch with them and interact outside of the OR allows them to get to know each other better,” says Donna Carmignani, nurse manager for the facility.

Marietta Surgery Center (Marietta, Ohio)

Annual volume: 1,200 procedures

Specialties: Orthopedics and pain management

What makes it great: Opened in June 2000, this two-OR, AAAHC-accredited center has five physician-owners/utilizers. “The collegiality of the physicians with the entire staff creates an atmosphere of teamwork that cannot be beat,” says Joyce Deno, the COO, Eastern Region, for Regent Surgical Health, which is the Center’s corporate partner and manager. And the numbers demonstrate that: Employee satisfaction is 88.8 percent, and patient satisfaction rates 98 percent (as reported to CTQ).

“The entire healthcare team — four RNs, two surgical techs, four business office personnel and one administrator — share the everyday stresses of providing patient care with the fun of semiannual social events,” says Ms. Deno. “The members of the team care about each other on a personal level. All this has come together in an environment of hardworking individuals committed to a common focus of excellence.”

Mississippi Surgical Center (Jackson, Miss.)

Annual volume: 8,800 procedures

Specialties: All major specialties except neurosurgery and GI

What makes it great: Mississippi Surgical has retained numerous staff members for close to and some for more than 20 years. The ASC, which opened in 1987, has been able to keep staff members with the organization by creating an environment that fosters closeness.

The ASC holds an employee appreciation week annually. The event features daily activities that include door prizes such as gift certificates and gift bags; breakfast, lunches and ice cream sundaes are served. Throughout the year, the staff members receive gestures of appreciation, including t-shirts and fleeces with the Mississippi Surgical logo and occasional free breakfasts and lunches.

“The fact that people are here for as many years as they have is a testament to the fact that they enjoy being here as employees,” says Cindy Cefalu, clinical director, who joined the staff in 1991. “I think we have a real sense of family among the employees.”

Moore Orthopaedic Clinic Outpatient Surgery Center (Lexington, S.C.)

Annual volume: 1,300-plus cases

Specialties: Specializes in orthopedics

What makes it great: Moore Orthopaedic, which was developed and is managed by Practices Partners in Healthcare, has seen a return rate of 45 percent on its patient satisfaction questionnaires, 100 percent on patients recommending the facility to others and a very high scoring for all categories associated with a patient’s experience at the center since it opened in late 2007, according to Janet Cordovano, RN, nurse manager for Moore.

The center’s orthopedic surgeons are very active in the community, serving as team physicians for high school/college athletes. The ASC includes flat screens in the lobby, pre-op and staff lounge. The staff uses top-of-the-line equipment, having access to electronic medical records and patient MRIs and x-rays which can be accessed electronically and used in the OR.

Northeast Surgical Care (Newington, N.H.)

Annual volume: 1,800 procedures

Specialties: Includes orthopedics, ophthalmology, pain management, general surgery, plastic surgery and otolaryngology

What makes it great: A focus on providing personalized care and identifying opportunities to connect with and give back to the community are just a few of the reasons staff members at Northeast Surgical Care (NESC) think the ASC is a great place to work. The center, which opened in 2000, stays very busy with its single operating room but staff members make time to participate in community and social events. Members become involved with charitable events and activities such as Coats for Kids, Toys for Tots, blood drives, and various walks and runs, with participation in these activities initiated by the physician owners of the ASC through their practices.

There are social activities planned for the staff including softball and flag-football teams, summer outings and a winter holiday event. Low turnover at the center is also likely attributable to management’s consideration of staff and patient needs. Staff members have flexibility with their schedule to accommodate personal needs. Management participates in staff and patient safety activities, encourages staff input on operations issues and regularly invests in new surgical and anesthesia technology.

Orthopedic & Sports Surgery Center (Appleton, Wis.)

Annual volume: 2,400 cases

Specialties: Specializes in orthopedics with some pain management

What makes it great: When Aaron Bleier, the business office/finance manager joined the staff of the Orthopedic & Sports Surgery Center in 2007, he had no prior medical industry experience. His previous perception of the medical industry was one where big hospitals charged high dollars without much of a focus on innovation or customer focus. That perception changed as he learned about the ASC industry and the mission of his center.

“The reason our center exists is simply to provide a better form of patient-focused healthcare,” he says. “The fact we provide this at a lower cost than the hospital is a bonus.”

The center, which opened in 2006, has seen tremendous growth in the short time Mr. Bleier has served as a member of the staff.

“It’s most notably with our 23-hour stay program for joint replacements,” he says. “We have performed a number of partial knee replacements along with total shoulder replacements and the response we have received from patients has been tremendous.

“I never would have been involved in something this exciting and rewarding in my previous career, and to know we are helping members of the local community makes everyone in our ASC very proud,” he says.

Ramapo Valley Surgical Center (Ramsey, N.J.)

Annual volume: 4,500 procedures

Specialties: ENT, orthopedics, ophthalmology, general surgery, podiatry, gynecology and pain manageme

What makes it great: The staff members at Ramapo Valley Surgical Center (RVSC) like to say that their physicians can “set their watches to RVSC.” This motto demonstrates a commitment by the staff to ensuring that cases remain on schedule and there are few or no delays, work that requires a high level of efficiency from RVSC staff members, says Amy Allard, RN, administrative director for Ramapo.

Ramapo Valley, which opened in 2005, has retained its original staff members, fostering a family-like environment. The physicians, under the leadership of Dr. Austin, treat the staff with respect and high regard, acknowledging the staff’s attention to patient and physician satisfaction.

“They have a personal interest in maintaining instruments and equipment, as well as the general environment, as if it was their own,” says Ms. Allard. “They treat every patient as they would like to be treated.”

Southern New Mexico Surgery Center (Alma Gordo, N.M.)

Annual volume: 1,500 procedures

Specialties: ENT, orthopedics, GI, pain management and podiatry

What makes it great: In just over two-and-a-half years, Southern New Mexico Surgery Center has established itself as a great place to work and to have a procedure: employee satisfaction is 95.3 percent and patient satisfaction is 95.1 percent (as reported to CTQ). There are five physician-owner/utilizers.

“This rural community ASC is a shining star in the desert of New Mexico,” says Joyce Deno of Regent Surgical Health, the facility’s corporate partner and manager. The staff comprises four RNs, two surgical techs, three business office personnel, a business office manager and an administrator, and “Decisions are made as a team working toward the common good of the patient and facility.”

“The staff is cohesive in their provision of patient care with all RNs rotating through all portions of perioperative patient care” in the two-OR, one-procedureroom center, says Ms. Deno. “The clinical staff have worked out processes with the business office staff to maximize utilization of staff hours. Every member of the team is accountable for the quality of their work and takes pride ongoing to ensure a high level of care and service is provided to the customers.”

Stonegate Surgery Center (Austin, Texas)

Annual volume: 8,000 cases

Specialties: Specializes in orthopedics pain management, ortho, and neuro.

What makes it great: Stonegate Surgery Center (SSC) executive director Jared Leger asked employees to share why the center “really is a great place to work”:

  • “ I have am really impressed with how supportive the management is and how well the staff works together; the doctors are extremely generous to the staff and they make work fun,” says Heidi Walker, RN. “This is the first job that I have been at that I have really enjoyed in my eight years as a nurse. I live in the neighborhood and turned in a resume one day after seeing the center on my way home from the grocery store — it was the best move that I have made in my career, and I consider myself lucky to be part of the staff here. All the stress that I had while working at the hospital is now gone, and even the hardest day here is still a good day.”
  • “Each employee has a common goal and that is for our patients to have a great experience here at the surgery center,” says Trish Howell, RN. “If we are running behind our physicians will buy the employees’ lunch to help keep our patient flow going, and to help us with our daily stresses we are rewarded with massages. One thing that stands out for me is that, at the end of the day when we are ready to go home, we are being thanked for the work we have done.”
  • Jan Walters, RN, BSN, notes the fairness and attention to staff of management as highlights of working at Stonegate. She also appreciates that “There is a core of staff who have worked together for a long time and there is a genuine effort to hire new people who fit the work culture. The result of this is a group of people who work together from helping to start IVs to changing linen of a gurney.” But actions speak louder than words: “I left SSC for one year and came back because of the above reasons,” says Ms. Walters. “I plan and hope to retire from this facility.”

Surgicare of Lake Charles (Lake Charles, La.)

Annual volume: 4,800 procedures

Specialties: ENT, pain management, orthopedics, Gynecology, plastic surgery, dental surgery, general surgery and podiatry

What makes it great: The leadership of Surgicare of Lake Charles has earned its staff’s confidence through a strong record of success and quality care since the organization opened in 1975. The center, a subsidiary of Community Health Systems, is still thriving today, more than 30 years after it opened, thanks to the foundation established by its management team, says Kathy LeJeune, business office director and manager for the ASC.

“If I were thinking of starting an ASC, I would certainly want to have the input from leadership that has withstood the problems in the medical field over the past 25 years,” says Ms. LeJeune. “The departments are supervised by managers that have the passion and drive for success, the vision for growth and appreciation of staff.”

Vail Valley Surgery Center (Vail, Col.)

Annual volume: 4,000 cases

Specialties: Specializes in orthopedics

What makes it great: Vail Valley, which opened in 2002 as a joint venture between Vail Valley Medical Center and physicians in the Vail Valley, treats some of the nation’s top athletes, with William Sterett, MD, Vail Valley’s medical director, serving as head team physician for the U.S. Women’s Alpine Ski Team.

The commitment of the leadership at Vail Valley Surgery Center to recruiting and retaining top talent is one reason why Laura Millard, administrator for the ASC, says Vail Valley is a great place to work. Working near one of the premier ski resorts in the country and having the ability to take advantage of this proximity even during the work week doesn’t hurt either.

“A few of the many benefits of working at the surgery center include a ski pass benefit, an incentive bonus program and flexible scheduling, which allows some staff to enjoy getting a few ski runs in during the day,” says Ms. Millard.

Wilmington SurgCare (Wilmington, N.C.)

Annual volume: 10,000 procedures

Specialties: Orthopedics, ophthalmology, general surgery, plastic surgery, podiatry, ENT, pain management, urology, gynecology and endoscopy

What makes it great: With an environment where staff members are encouraged to share their thoughts and insights about the work of their ASC, Wilmington SurgCare has thrived for 16 years and become one of the finest Symbion facilities.

“We have an open-door policy with our physicians and employees whereby collaboration, innovation and mutual respect foster a caring atmosphere to positively impact our patients and the entire community,” says James Shafer, Wilmington’s administrator.

The center, which opened in 1992, received Symbion’s “Facility of the Year” award in 2007 and has also earned three “President’s Awards” from its management company for reaching established benchmarks.

Yellowstone Surgery Center (Billings, Mont.)

Annual volume: 7,500 procedures

Specialties: Orthopedics, ENT, pain management, plastic surgery, general surgery, podiatry and oral surgery

What makes it great: Yellowstone Surgery Center, which opened in 2002 and has St. Vincent Healthcare as a 50 percent partner in the ASC, provides catered lunches, big-screen televisions in the break room, and free food and drinks available throughout the day. This comes on top of annual bonuses, merit raises and special bonuses. By running the ASC and providing care with a “family” philosophy, staff members and patients are the beneficiaries.

The employees’ happiness with their work translates to the patients they serve. Patient satisfaction surveys, which come back at a 99 percent satisfaction rate, frequently include the naming of individual members of the ASC’s staff who made the experience easier and more comfortable.

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