QI Innovator Award Winner – Annette VanDomelen

Monday, July 20, 2015 – It is our pleasure to honor Annette VanDomelen, from the Health Services division in Missoula City-County Health Department in Montana, as a public health QI Innovator. Congratulations Annette!

What makes Annette VanDomelen a QI Innovator?

Annette VanDomelen, of the Health Services division in Missoula City-County Health Department (MCCHD) in Montana, has been involved in some enormously successful and well-received projects—none of which were small or easy. She has also implemented QI into her personal life: by doing a marriage QI project with her husband! Annette uses her gift for the QI process to bring people together to think outside the box and find solutions using QI tools. Annette’s ability to grasp the full possibilities of QI right away has helped MCCHD take ownership of its QI culture. During MCCHD’s accreditation site visit, the site reviewers noted the pervasive culture of QI, even listing it as one of MCCHD’s three strengths. MCCHD was accredited in March 2014.

We asked Annette to share some insights regarding challenges encountered, lessons learned, and advice about public health QI. Here's what she had to say!

Q: Describe one challenge you have encountered in conducting QI in public health and how you worked to overcome that challenge.

A: Staff members were very resistant at first. The process and steps of QI and resisting jumping straight to a solution was frustrating for some. Others had a hard time believing that we would be allowed to implement our change once we finally got to that point. It has been very gratifying to see people slowly change their minds about QI and to now eagerly agree to be on teams and to make recommendations about future projects.

Q: What is one key lesson you have learned in your experience implementing public health QI initiatives?

A: I think it is important to "show your work." It is easy to skip steps or do steps incorrectly. I recently helped a team develop a terrible aim statement! (The solution was hidden in the aim statement.) By documenting each step and doing a 5-minute review with our Performance Management Quality Improvement (PMQI) committee, we caught the mistake early and were able to make the correction. We have a summary form and quick review process in place that we hope will keep us on track.

Q: What advice would you give to public health practitioners who are new to QI?

A: I kept hearing that you could not do QI "wrong." You can! We did! But that really is OK. We learned a lot from taking off in the wrong direction for a while and then correcting ourselves. Sharing those mistakes with other teams is just as useful as sharing the successes! Reading the projects on PHQIX is incredibly helpful. Take time to wander around the site and read about projects or explore how others have used QI tools.

Congratulations, Annette! Thank you for sharing these wonderful insights, for your demonstrated leadership in public health QI, and for being a member of the PHQIX community!

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kschneider@co.green-lake.wi.us's picture
Submitted by kschneider@co.g... on

Thank you for sharing Annette's insight. As a QI "newby" I appreciate the advice!

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prusso's picture
Submitted by prusso on

Congratulations Annette.    It is great that you like to "wander" through the PHQIX site for ideas from other projects!

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cgizzi's picture
Submitted by cgizzi on

Congratulations, Annette! I love that you did a marriage QI project! What was your AIM statement?


Cindan Gizzi, MPH

Public Health Centers for Excellence

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