BY NINA POLIEN LIGHT | PHOTO BY MCKINLEY WILEY
“I liken what we do to match.com,” she says. “We ask patients to complete an online health risk assessment. We know our physicians well, so we get a sense of their personality and the patient’s personality and needs. Then we make a pairing for them.”
This concierge, or navigator, model recognizes that women often overlook their own health and wellness even as they nurture every aspect of their husband’s, children’s, and parents lives. It acknowledges working women’s difficulty in finding time to visit a primary physician who, in turn, may order a mammogram or refer them to another specialist at a different location. The model also appreciates that some women are hesitant to schedule medical appointments because of long-ago experiences with doctors who were not attuned to the best approaches to caring for and communicating with female patients. From conducting extensive research, the model also recognizes that women over age 50 do not necessarily have a gender preference for doctors, but younger women prefer female physicians.
The Women’s Health Institute, which was launched last September, allows women to receive a variety of health services at several convenient locations—including routines exams, mammography, bone-density screenings, obstetrics and gynecology, and other specialties—from healthcare providers with a specific interest in women’s health. Currently, all but three of the Institute’s doctors are female.
“Nothing like this exists in the Cleveland market,” Ramadan says. “There are hospitals that primarily focus on OB/GYN and mammography, but we take care of the whole woman.”
Ramadan, who works from the Institute’s administrative offices in Mayfield, is responsible for realizing the vision of her former vice-president. That includes managing the physical spaces, engaging with physicians who are dedicated to working with women, expanding services to other areas throughout the region, growing the program, and maintaining patient satisfaction and quality outcomes.
She also supervises a three-person staff. The educator coordinates programs for medical staff and patients on a variety of women’s health issues. Community programs have covered managing menopause, weight loss, nutrition, sexual health, and parenting. The patient navigator helps patients with scheduling, access to doctors, and insurance questions. She also refers women to community resources for support groups, financial assistance, meals, or housing, when applicable. The nurse navigator reviews health risk assessments and follows up with patients after their appointments to answer questions or provide additional resources.
“We work with people who haven’t seen a physician in years, maybe because of fear or distrust,” Ramadan says. “When we pair them with the right provider and they get engaged in their own healthcare, it’s so incredibly rewarding.”
In addition to holding two nursing degrees and an MBA, Ramadan is a green belt in Lean Six Sigma, which is based on Toyota’s production model. The approach looks at processes to identify waste, inefficiencies, underutilization of people, delays, and errors.
“It has very strong applicability to healthcare,” Ramadan, who advocates removing practices that do not add value to patients, says. “I believe Lean Six Sigma is a tool that will help revolutionize healthcare to improve outcomes and costs.”
Ramadan began her nursing career in Chicago before moving to the administrative side of healthcare. Before assuming her position at the Women’s Health Institute in February 2014, she served as project director at the Cleveland Clinic.
She credits the mentorship of Laura Ferris, RN, vice president of continuum of care at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital near Chicago, with her ascension from bedside nurse to leader. Ramadan says Ferris is a generous and warm person who advised, “Sometimes you have to show your teeth.”
“In other words, be strong, own it, stand up straight, hold firm,” Ramadan says.
“A lot of my professional growth and development was learned from her.”
Likewise, Ramadan mentors a woman she worked with at both the Cleveland Clinic and Elmhurst. Ramadan recognized the former phlebotomist’s potential, gave her increasing responsibility, and encouraged her to return to school. The woman, who now holds an MBA and is in a leadership role at a local family health center, still seeks Ramadan’s guidance periodically.
Inspiring others is part of being an effective leader, Ramadan insists. She encourages leaders to build relationships with their staff, demonstrate care for others, articulate their company’s or group’s mission, engage employees, and acknowledge their contributions.
In Ramadan’s case, she also truly cares about the women the Institute serves. Much like the patients, she is a busy, working mother and wife. Her three children range from middle school- to college-age. She also enjoys bicycling, gardening, walking her dog, cooking, scrapbooking, and reading books about U.S. presidents.”
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