NCH Leader Earns Lean Six Sigma Black Belt

Clare Fox, PT, Cert MDT, LBC, Director of Performance Improvement for NCH, and Physical
Therapist at AVH, recently achieved Lean Six Sigma Black Belt status from Six Sigma Global
Institute. Fox joins fellow Lean Six Sigma Black Belt holders Bernie Adams, NCH Chief Quality
Officer; Diane Blumenthal, Weeks Medical Center Quality Manager and Privacy Officer; and Joe
Caristi, NCH Vice President of Finance. Together, Adams, Blumenthal and Fox, along with other
dedicated Quality professionals throughout NCH, comprise the NCH Performance Excellence (PX)

“In becoming a Black Belt, Clare demonstrated a mastery of skills which will allow her to tackle some of the most complex problems in the industry,” explained Adams. “And with this added distinction, she’s also in a great position to mentor and guide our employees through their personal Lean Six
Sigma journeys,” he added.

Lean Six Sigma originated in the manufacturing sector where line workers were empowered to
identify and eliminate manufacturing defects, waste and re-work. Through a straightforward,
disciplined approach of continuous improvement, Lean Six Sigma practitioners have revolutionized manufacturing, production and distribution processes, enabling organizations to achieve higher efficiency and cost savings. “The healthcare industry has witnessed the progress that’s been made in other sectors, and we’ve learned that healthcare needs to become more efficient,” said Fox. “That is why NCH has implemented Lean – to help improve the experience from the patient perspective,” she added.

At NCH, systemwide Lean Six Sigma efforts that have been implemented to support the drive towards greater efficiency include: standardizing how new hires are integrated into the organization; decreasing the number of days between a patient’s positive screening mammogram and diagnostic work up; and creating a systemwide plan for effectively supporting specialized patient populations, such as patients with dementia. “There’s really no limit to what can be accomplished using Lean Six Sigma. Our goal is to consider ways to improve the patient experience, and then make incremental changes that bring value back to the patient,” Fox said.

“Clare’s accomplishment must not be understated. The Lean Six Sigma toolbelt and approach is a proven one – in healthcare and in many other industries – that will help propel NCH forward on our journey to becoming a High Reliability organization,” said Adams.

By the end of Fiscal Year 2024, our goal is to empower 100 percent of our NCH team with this knowledge by rolling out a foundational Yellow Belt course aimed at supporting employees in improving their daily work. To learn more about the six-hour Six Sigma training, please contact Bernie Adams ([email protected]), Clare Fox ([email protected]), Diane Blumenthal ([email protected]), or speak with your supervisor. Courses are scheduled through June 2023, and employees can sign up here: Northwoods Center for Continuing Education.


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