Hospice manager helps coordinate care when needed most

Liz Weisbrich makes complex laws simpler for providers and end-of-life care better for patients

Hospice manager helps coordinate care when needed most

One of the most important roles for Sanford Fargo Hospice director Liz Weisbrich is to create an understanding of hospice care and its appropriate use among hospital partners in her market.

It’s not an easy task. Regulatory compliance demands a questioning attitude from both managers and employees. Establishing an environment of collaboration and accountability is a necessity while navigating the compliance-related complexities often associated with hospice care.

Weisbrich’s efforts have been recognized with the Sanford Health Compass Award, given annually to honor a Sanford employee who has best exemplified integrity and excellence as part of the organization’s commitment to compliance, patient privacy and overall safety.

“She has dealt with these challenges with a great degree of grace and poise while standing her ground to do what is necessary to protect the integrity of her agency and her team,” wrote Sanford Health clinical compliance specialist Stacy Knott of Weisbrich’s work. “Through consistency, education and collaboration with these partners, she has begun to create a true culture of hospice compliance.”

Hospice care is ‘a real privilege’

Weisbrich, who grew up in Karlstad, Minnesota (population 710), began her career as an inpatient oncology registered nurse for Sanford. She has steadily advanced into roles of health care leadership since then.

In 2019, she became part of the state of North Dakota’s first home hospice program with Sanford. It was an effort that progressed to the opening of the Sanford Fargo Hospice House in February of 2020, where she now works.

“It’s a real privilege,” Weisbrich said. “We get to spend time with patients and families in the most intimate way at what is a real pivotal point in their lives. That, in itself, is a blessing. And then I get to work with such a phenomenal team and organization.”

Weisbrich’s history with Sanford has included many instances of taking on challenges and solving problems. One example is how she responded when she was recently greeted with an opportunity to improve understanding of general inpatient (GIP) level of care at the Hospice House. Weisbrich coordinated conversations that involved leaders from the Fargo market, the Good Samaritan Society and Healthcare Building Solutions, a prominent consultancy in hospice care.

The goal of these discussions was and continues to be to improve processes and to raise awareness of an increased regulatory presence in hospice care.

“Liz took many of the ideas generated in that group and ran with them,” Knott wrote. “Her hope is the work generated by this group will ensure that only people appropriate for the GIP level of care receive it, while also streamlining discharge planning that involves hospice care.”

About the Compass Award

The Compass Award was created as a way for Sanford to recognize that compliance involves everyone. Success involves the engagement of front-line leaders in evaluating and analyzing the delivery of health care every day.

Sanford Health and Good Samaritan Society employees were asked to nominate a co-worker or leader who met these criteria:

  • Demonstrates integrity in their words and actions
  • Maintains an “open-door” policy
  • Takes accountability for doing the right thing
  • Admits mistakes and uses them as opportunities for improvement
  • Promotes compliance awareness
  • Goes above and beyond to fix a process
  • Prevented, detected or corrected a compliance error

Previous Compass Award winners include behavioral health director Ashlea McMartin in 2021, respiratory care manager Teresa Kershaw in 2020, clinic president Luis Garcia, M.D., in 2019, patient and financial services director Tony Morrison in 2018 and nuclear medicine supervisor Bill Beard in 2017.

“We wanted to establish an award that recognizes someone from our more than 40,000 employees who truly went above and beyond in their efforts,” said Robb Schlimgen, system vice president, regulation and chief compliance officer. “We do that, No. 1, to recognize the work of that individual and, No. 2, to demonstrate that we understand, appreciate and want to reward a greater culture of compliance throughout our organization.”

The Compass Award is closely connected with Sanford Accountability for Excellence (SAFE), the organization’s commitment to patient safety through its people. Embedded in Weisbrich’s efforts are SAFE initiatives that apply both in a conscientious boots-on-the-ground way and as part of institution-wide points of emphasis.

“One of the SAFE skills is to know why and comply,” Schlimgen said. “It goes back to collaboration. Liz Weisbrich took it upon herself to work with compliance, to understand the rules, to know why they’re important and then to implement them.”

Invitation to a surprise celebration

A few weeks prior to learning she won the Compass Award, Weisbrich was asked by her executive director, Nancy Demarais, to attend an event where Sanford’s annual Hero awards would be announced.

At the end of the event, she learned they would be announcing one more award. The compliance team came up and described the criteria used to choose a Compass honoree and then told those gathered that Weisbrich, with her invaluable contributions in establishing compliance at the Hospice House, was this year’s enterprise-wide winner.

“We’ve had tremendous support from every team around the organization – and our compliance team has been instrumental since Day 1,” Weisbrich said. “I want to credit our whole team for that. When we started in 2019, we were dealing with a new service line, the merger with the Good Samaritan Society and COVID. This team worked tirelessly. They never strayed from our focus on quality care, safety and compliance. Knowing that is valued and that it’s noticed speaks volumes about our organization and the work of our team.”

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Posted In Awards & Recognition, Fargo, Hospice