By Bob Henger, CEO Northwest Medical Center

Bob Henger, CEOSince taking on the responsibility of CEO at Northwest Medical Center in July, with the support of our entire staff, we have made steady progress in minimizing patient complaints and improving the care and service we provide to our patients. I personally investigate every patient complaint brought to our attention. We fully investigate the concern or complaint and report back to the individual with our findings. If our service is not what it should be, we also communicate any corrective actions we put in place to fix the problem and prevent future occurences.

What I have found most damaging, defenseless and difficult to overcome is the hyper-escalating culture in which one person utilizes social media to voice their complaints before attempting to resolve the issue with us directly. This has a considerable negative effect on our hospital's reputation.

Social media is the "wild west" for better or worse. There are real benefits to the wide-open space of social media, but the culture is one in which there are no rules about decorum, where any individual can build a following quickly by expressing personal opinions that escalate into partisan flame-throwing where the most sensational account is most likely to attract the most attention.

For the receiver there is no opportunity to determine the validity or debate the complaint. The damage is immediate and irreversible. What we do at our hospital is respond to all social media criticism by continually monitoring these interactions and attempting to personally contact the individual voicing the criticism to discuss and attempt to resolve their dissatisfaction.

Negative online narratives may serve as a therapeutic benefit to the party expressing their perceived negative experience, but a more humane and productive method to resolve a negative experience at our hospital is to call 205-487-7555 and ask to speak to the CEO or visit me at the hospital.

I welcome any opportunity to discuss ways in which we can improve our organization and the care we provide to our patients.