Massachusetts Association of Healthcare Quality (MAHQ)


 Fall 2015 eNewsletter



A Message from the President...

It’s hard to believe that fall is already here; I hope everyone had a great summer!
October 18-24 is National Healthcare Quality Week.  This celebration highlights the work of healthcare quality professionals and their influence on improved patient care outcomes and healthcare delivery systems. We would love to highlight healthcare quality achievements in your organization.  You can email me at
Board members and volunteers have been busy planning for upcoming programs and activities. See the Program Committee update in this newsletter for details.   I want to encourage MAHQ members to consider applying for a Professional Development Grant. 

MAHQ relies on skilled volunteers with diverse experiences in healthcare quality who dedicate their time to support and promote the Association’s mission and activities. Volunteering not only provides opportunity for  business and professional growth, enhancing skills or competencies, personal recognition, but also giving back through service to others.  For details about volunteer opportunities, please go to or contact me directly.

Lynn Myers

Treasurer's Report

The assets of MAHQ as of July 2015 are $42,604.29.Total income through July 2015 was $17,810.42.
This income was generated by program fees, membership dues, fundraising and bank account interest. Specifically, MAHQ received revenue from three (3) webinars and our annual meeting that were completed in the first half of 2015. Total expenses for this same time period were $14,582.35. MAHQ expenses are related to administrative, program, operational, networking and marketing expenditures. The net income as of July 2015 was $3,228.07.

Detailed quarterly financial statements are posted for your review at

Respectfully submitted,

Anne Boffa

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Apply for the MAHQ Professional

Enhancement Grant

Is 2015 the year you plan to become CPHQ-certified?  Do you already have your CPHQ, but find budget cuts are keeping your employer from sending you to that “must attend” conference?  If you answered yes to either of these questions, apply for a MAHQ Professional Enhancement Grant today! 

This grant provides financial assistance to MAHQ members to obtain the Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ) credential or, for members who already have this certification, attend a regional or national conference.  The grant can be used for the MAHQ- sponsored CPHQ Review Course planned for May of 2016.  There are restrictions on how the monies can be used; details can be found on the MAHQ website.  What do you have to lose in checking it out?  Let MAHQ assist you in your 2015 professional development goals.

MAHQ will be accepting applications through October 14, 2015 and grants will be awarded during Healthcare Quality Week October 19-25, 2015.   Go to for more information and to download the application.

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Spreading a Performance Improvement

Program across the Post-Acute


By Debra Blyth-Wilk, JD, RN, CPHQ
Director Quality and Performance Improvement, Spaulding Rehabilitation Network

As the health care system rapidly changes, health care leaders and frontline clinicians will continue to be challenged to deliver the highest quality care with efficient use of resources. One of the most difficult questions becomes how to adopt a methodology that will effectively teach performance improvement to busy frontline clinicians and managers. The choice of methodology would have to be effective across many varied practice settings.  A brief overview of performance improvement methods in healthcare reveals many choices.  Many hospitals choose to adopt a LEAN methodology; still others use the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Model for Improvement, or Six Sigma.  Faced with this dilemma, the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network chose to develop a Collaborative Learning Improvement Program known as CLIP.
The Spaulding Rehabilitation Network (SRN), a division of Partners Continuing Care, spans many levels of care across the post-acute continuum.  With two Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (IRF’s), one Long Term Acute Care Hospital (LTAC), two Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF), and twenty-three outpatient centers, the choice of a performance improvement program was challenging.  A curriculum was developed which incorporated some concepts of LEAN, along with components of the Model for Improvement, such as AIM statements and Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles. The collection and analysis of data, as well as basic run chart rules are also core competencies.  Additionally, principles of change management and team building were incorporated into the curriculum. 
Project Improvement teams are asked to apply to the CLIP program with a particular performance improvement project in mind.  If they are accepted into the program, between two and four improvement team leaders attend the CLIP classes, and bring the knowledge back to the larger team at their facility or practice setting. There are six CLIP classes, three hours in length that span a period of approximately twelve weeks.  Each class focuses on a particular Core Competency such as process mapping, prioritizing improvement ideas, or Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles.  Participants have been very engaged in the classes, and have been excited to learn to use basic quality tools such as cause and effect diagrams, and stakeholder analysis.  The projects have allowed the participants to translate theory into action.
The Spaulding Rehabilitation Network has run three CLIP sessions over eighteen months.  Fifty-four improvement teams have completed the course, with one hundred thirty-five participants.  The program to date has awarded Continuing Education Units to nursing, social worker, case management and speech language pathologists. Several projects have been accepted for presentations at national conferences.  The CLIP Program itself has been a featured poster presentation at the National Rehabilitation Quality and Safety Summit, as well as the Quality and Equity Roadmap, a session at the American Hospital Association Leadership Summit.

Key Take Aways:

  • Make the program interactive: participants love hands-on activities such as learning about Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles with Mr. Potato Head as an example! 
  • Pair each team up with a coach:  the teams will benefit from mentors with performance improvement knowledge to guide them both at and in between classes.
  • Encourage sharing:  teams benefit from hearing other teams present the work they are doing on their projects.  Many participants share improvement ideas that are then adopted at other sites within the network.
  • Make “homework” mandatory.  Each team should be coming to the CLIP classes with 3-5 new slides they have created, so that they have a completed power point presentation at the end of the program.

Celebrate!  At the completion of the six CLIP sessions, all participants attend a Knowledge Sharing Dinner and Graduation where they present their projects as posters, which are then showcased to leadership within the organization.


Program Committee Update

The Program Committee has been very busy planning for this year’s events. The Committee has developed a webinar in conjunction with our partner, Creative Healthcare, Incorporated on how quality improvement and emotional intelligence are linked. In addition, the Committee is working on an additional two to three webinars for our members this year.  In May 2016, the Committee has scheduled a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ) Review course which will be taught by Nancy Ryll and Bert Thurlo-Walsh, both MAHQ Board members. Mark your calendars and continue to watch for updates related to new and exciting webinars in the near future.

MAHQ and the Program Committee are pleased to celebrate Healthcare Quality Week with an exciting new webinar called “Quality Improvement and Emotional Intelligence: What’s the Connection?” by John Delmatoff from Creative Healthcare, Incorporated.  Today's quality improvement leaders are faced with a growing challenge in leading their organizations to higher quality standards while in the midst of the greatest changes occurring in healthcare in over 50 years. In the course of all that is changing, conventional leadership strategies may not be up to this challenge, but for enlightened leaders, taking an Emotionally and Behaviorally Intelligent approach to leading their teams, departments and/or organizations through the gauntlet of organizational change can mean the difference between a highly successful quality improvement initiative and one that is compromised or a complete failure. Please join us for this exciting webinar on Monday, October 19, 2015 from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM. Registration is now open.

Save The Date: The Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ) Review course will be held on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 and Thursday, May 5, 2016 at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, Massachusetts. The course instructors will be two MAHQ Board members, Nancy Ryll and Bert Thurlo-Walsh.  The Annual Meeting will take place on May 4, 2016 from 7:30 – 8:00 AM prior to the start of the two-day course. Registration will open in the near future.


Committee Member Spotlight:

Bert Thurlo-Walsh

by: Eileen Hession Laband, MBA, RN, NE-BC, CPHQ

This month our Committee Member Spotlight shines on Bert Thurlo-Walsh, RN, MM, CPHQ, FABC, who has been on the MAHQ Board for four years and is a Past President. Bert was the Chair of the Program Committee three years ago and became the Co-chair of the Program Committee and he has been the Chair of the Website Committee for the past two years. Bert is the Vice President of Quality and Patient Safety at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. He has been at Newton-Wellesley for the past eight years; starting as the Manager for Quality, then moving to the Director of Quality and Patient Safety before taking his current role as Vice President in November 2014.  In this role he directs and oversees the following functions: Care Coordination, Infection Control, Interpreter Services, Patient Relations, Patient Safety, Risk Management, and Quality Improvement as well as Hospital Incentive programs, and Medical Peer Review activities. Bert also works as a consultant for Partners International. Prior to that he worked for St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center as the Director of Quality and Patient Safety. As an active committee member, Bert works with the Program Committee team to develop professional practice offerings such as webinars and live presentations to enhance the healthcare quality professional’s knowledge. As part of the Website Committee, the team upgraded the website to a fresher, more user-friendly site.

EHL: How did you get interested in a career in healthcare? 

BTW:  I went to a vocational technical high school which offered a track called health careers. This introduced me to healthcare in acute hospital settings. I worked many years in nursing homes and hospitals as a nursing assistant before going to nursing school.

EHL: Who has been influential in your career in healthcare?

BTW: I have had the opportunity to work with many excellent healthcare executives over my 30 years in healthcare. I would have to say there were two who were very influential. The first was a former boss/employee/colleague who introduced me to case management, quality, patient safety and peer review when we worked for Lahey Clinic Medical Center. She taught me how these non-bedside service lines impacted patient and family centered care and how our roles help define what the frontline providers do every day to ensure high quality, safe care. The second is my current boss, our Chief Medical Officer. I have learned a tremendous amount from him. His mantra has always been based on the “Teaching Principle of Quality” which states unless each component of care is delivered in the fashion in which you would teach it, there is opportunity for improvement. The patient has always been the center of care and everything we do in the Department of Quality and Patient Safety must always be done with the patient/family in mind as we transition the patient across the continuum of care. In addition, he also taught me how quality, patient safety, publicly reported data and pay for performance link across the continuum of care.  

EHL: What is your favorite part of your job?

BTW:  Being able to go to work every day and work with a great medical, nursing and ancillary staff that focus on how we can best care for our patients and family as beloved family members.  We all have back-to-back meetings and other events but at the end of the day my goal is to always work collaboratively with my colleagues to ensure the patient and family have the best experience.

EHL: Why did you get involved in MAHQ?

BTW:  I have been a member since 2009 and attended the Annual Meetings in order to increase my knowledge as a healthcare quality professional. In 2012, I was approached by Lynn Myers, the current MAHQ President, to run for President. Since that time, I have been actively involved and have enjoyed learning about both our State Association and the National Association for Healthcare Quality. Being involved has allowed me the opportunity to collaborate with quality professionals from across the healthcare spectrum. As a team, the Board and the Committees have developed some of the best educational opportunities for our membership by providing exceptional webinars and Annual Meetings with world class speakers who are at the forefront of quality and patient safety. Being part of MAHQ has not only been a learning experience but has also been fun.

EHL:  How has your involvement benefitted you?

BTW:  I have gained so much from my involvement in MAHQ over the last six years. From working with an exceptional group of healthcare quality professionals across the continuum of care and beyond, to learning from key leaders in the industry about the future of quality and patient safety I would say that I have benefited greatly. My knowledge base and skill sets were enhanced by the excellent educational opportunities that MAHQ has put forth over the last five years. In addition, the ability to network with like-minded colleagues has been invaluable. 

EHL:  Where do you think healthcare in Massachusetts is headed?

BTW: Healthcare in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is fast paced and ever-changing. With the passing of Chapter 224, the creation of the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA), and other legislative and regulatory changes, this level of activity on Beacon Hill is requiring all organizations to make effective changes to ensure high quality and safe care delivery systems and models are in place. I foresee our work in quality and patient safety being in the limelight more than ever as the Commonwealth focuses attention on outcomes versus process measures. Improving access to primary and behavioral health care must be a primary focus for the Commonwealth’s future. Citizens having health insurance was the first step, but now access to care, health equity, and cost reduction should be the Commonwealth’s future strategy. 

EHL: What do you like to do in your spare time?

BTW: My husband, Michael, and I enjoy spending time with our two miniature schnauzers, going to our home in Vermont and traveling to different countries for vacation.

EHL: Thank you for your time and your service to MAHQ.


Connect with MAHQ!

MAHQ is on Facebook - connect with us here: for updates on programs and other opportunities.  You can also keep up with MAHQ, including job postings, through our LinkedIn account:

Upcoming Seminars

ANCC Med-Surg Certification Review Workshop - A 2-day educational program to prepare nurses for the ANCC Medical Surgical Certification exam.  This activity has been approved to award 16 contact hours.
Oct 19 & 20, 2015
NSMC Union Hospital, Healing Atrium
500 Lynnfield Street
Lynn, MA 01906
Brochure Link

11th Annual GBMP Northeast Lean Conference on September 29-30 in Springfield, MA
The event features keynote speakers including Dan Ariens, President & CEO of Ariens Company and Norman Bodek, widely acclaimed author, founder of Productivity Press and President of PCS, Inc.  
There is also a special appearance by Mike Rother, author of “ Toyota Kata: Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness, and Superior Results as well as breakout sessions, the Networking Nook, and the Lean Mall where you can shop for ideas!  
If you have been to a Northeast Lean Conference or Northeast Shingo Prize Conference event in the past, you know the speakers and attendees all have a passion for continuous improvement and the energy and sharing that goes on in these two days is really special.  People who come to the conference always talk about leaving re-energized and ready to go back to their organizations and take on new improvement efforts.    
GBMP knows that driving improvement is not for the meek and requires a long term commitment, so it is important to take a little time periodically to celebrate progress, share learning and network with others on the journey.  We hope you agree.
Full Agenda Link:[]
Link to Register:[]


Websites of Interest
Health Leaders Magazine is a monthly look at the issues and trends that are shaping the business of healthcare today.

all the covers and read all the cover stories.
HealthLeaders Media Staff, for HealthLeaders Media, December 31, 2014

The Commonwealth Fund
The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation that aims to promote a high performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society's most vulnerable, including low-income people, the uninsured, minority Americans, young children, and elderly adults.



Geoffrey Hickson







































Kimberly A. Smith, DNP, RN, ACNS-BC, GCNS-BC, CPHQ, CMAC
Lawrence General Hospital