Surgical Specialty Center of Baton Rouge: Founded by doctors, built on teamwork, focused on patients

Employees at the Surgical Specialty Center of Baton Rouge (SSCBR) have always worked as a team while enjoying a family atmosphere. When COVID-19 affected daily operations, it became clear that those qualities were not just nice to have; they were necessary for the organization to succeed.

In early March of 2020, SSCBR had hit its stride with an increasing awareness of the hospital’s services in the community. The team was well into a recently implemented total joint program and robotic surgery, and had been the state’s first healthcare facility to purchase a new robotic germ-destroying system a few years prior. While this enhancement to patient and employee safety seemed ahead of the curve in 2017, it became absolutely essential in 2020. 

With these prior initiatives, SSCBR was well equipped to respond to patients’ needs while complying with ever changing regulations when the pandemic hit. Still, COVID-19 offered an opportunity for team members in all roles to learn valuable lessons about how to pivot quickly. 

Even during COVID-19 surges and early days of lockdown, the hospital never completely shut down. In fact, rather than working offsite even one day, leadership and management continued to support clinical staff and physicians in person as they provided much-needed services for patients. This remarkable feat could be attributed to SSCBR’s dedication to maintaining the organization’s family-like atmosphere by listening to the team, showing compassion throughout the many extenuating circumstances, and communicating constantly. 

“One benefit of not being a larger hospital was being able to offer employees flexibility,” said Chief Nursing Officer Kari Ulrich. “We adjusted our time off policy so employees would have vacation days to look forward to, and team members were always quick to cover each other’s shifts when childcare and quarantine situations demanded adjustments.” 

SSCBR’s teamlike atmosphere was never more apparent than when board chairman Dr. Carey Winder noticed understandable nervousness among some clinical staff and held an impromptu hospital town forum. Much like a championship-winning coach, he reminded them that they were there because patients still needed care. That personal approach to a frightening disease gave the clinical staff the boost of confidence they needed to benefit countless patients and their families in the months to follow.

“Now more than ever, I can definitely say from experience that a physician-owned facility will always be invested in its staff,” said OR Director Kristy Baker. 

From the outside looking in, it’s easy to see that from the front desk to the operating room, SSCBR’s leadership, physicians, and teamwork leads to a win for patients and staff.