Manager Sponsor Profile: Linda J. Bodell
Helping teams do their best work
Linda J. Bodell has a simple formula for being a good sponsor of unit-based teams: Show up. Be of service. Clear a path. Bodell, a former clinical nurse specialist, spent much of her career in critical care settings where patient cases are often unstable and complex. She learned to be watchful and attentive. Today, those lessons define her as a sponsor of four teams at the Fontana Medical Center. She meets with her teams and her labor partners each month. Her personal goal is to understand what works and what doesn’t—and to get to the “why.” Bodell’s teams praise her for guiding them through facility and regional business goals, yet trusting the teams to find solutions that deliver needed results. She talked about being a sponsor with LMP senior communications consultant Anjetta McQueen.
Bodell was clinical director of Medical-Surgical Services at the time this article was written; she is now director of Clinical Care.
Q. Please share one of your best practices.
A. Show up at every team meeting, even if it’s only just one 15-minute window. It’s once a month per team. It’s essential. There is no substitute for being present. Let your teams tell you what they are currently working on. You tell them what’s going on…because they need it to complete their projects successfully. They haven’t had a bloodstream infection in 16 months? They need to hear where they are being successful.
Q. Would you describe an instance when you removed a barrier?
A year and a half ago, an RN and PCA (personal care attendant) from one of my teams asked to get a blood pressure machine that could stay in the patients' rooms. I did that—we had a department closing. I acquired a unit that could stay in one of the isolation rooms. It’s just those little things that make a difference in their work experience every day.
Q. Are there aspects of your past experience that have enhanced your sponsorship?
A. I have served on several nonprofit boards and as a volunteer, in different areas of health care and in Oman and South America, and that’s about taking a service to people, and it’s the same thing I do here as a sponsor. It’s my job to serve them so that they have everything they need to do their job the best they can. I know they care about their patients and their colleagues. They need to know that I care about them and what they do, and that it matters.
Q. Have your teams ever solved something you thought was unsolvable?
A. I would ask them! But the 4 West Med-Surg team was having a difficult time with workflows and getting to their supplies. They work where there are long hallways, where the 34 beds are arranged in a rectangular shape around the unit. This did not look like a process that could be fixed. They did the spaghetti diagram on how many steps nurses take. And the staff, together, made decisions about how to change, where they have their supplies, and how they were arranged. They worked on their workflow. Now the service scores are phenomenal.
Q. What inspires you each day in your duties as a sponsor?
A. So when you know what the goals are and what the actual plans are, and you go out and round on the department, and you can see those in living proof. It’s just exciting to see that this process really affects practice and activity at the unit level.
Words from the front line
“She really has an open door and an open heart. Linda has been a wonderful mentor. She is patient and stays calm under pressure. She knows how to lead you without just handing you the answers. She keeps you focused on what’s important.”—Letty Figueroa, RN, assistant clinical director and management co-lead, 4 East Med-Surg UBT, Fontana Medical Center