Several years ago, the CEOs of several hospitals in the region attended an NWA Business symposium. During that meeting, they decided to do something to foster a friendlier environment among their respective hospitals.
For the first time ever, each hospital system decided to send several teams, separated by departments, to compete in the first annual Medical Awareness Day (MAD). With such games as Tug-of-War, Engineering Feats, Singing Contest, Cook-Off, Softball Tournament, and Spelling Bee, the CEOs also proposed that each department would compete outside of its normal comfort zone, drawn and assigned randomly to each department.
After a full day of intense competition, the Nursing, Dietary, CNA, Housekeeping, Biomedical, and Support Services were all tied among three hospitals. As the day progressed, the strain of having a good time while valiantly attempting to win each competition had intensified. The day was a huge success. The trophy for the overall winner now waited for a single team to claim it.
For the last competition, the Maintenance Departments from each of the three major hospital chains drew “Spelling Bee” as their realm to compete. The maintenance men all shrugged their shoulders and decided to compete to win.
All three teams sat in a huge “U”, with the CEOs seated up front, given that this would decide the entire crown for the year. The remainder of the 1,500 capacity room was packed with onlookers. As each team began, each of them spelled their assigned words without much complication. They only asked for the definition of a word three times for the first 30 words.
The CEO for Northwest Health held aloft a tiny strip of folded paper.
“This is the last word. The first to spell it correctly wins it all.” He smiled, certain that his team would be crowned as champion, given that the maintenance team from his hospital was next up.
The CEO read the word.
“Could I have the definition? I don’t recognize that word,” the team captain for Northwest Health’s maintenance team asked.
“Sure,” replied the CEO. He pronounced the word and then read the definition.
The Northwest Team Captain stared blankly. “Pass,” he said. “I’ve never heard that word before.”
The CEO then continued asking each member of his team to spell the word. All 6 of them failed.
After Northwest, the Mercy maintenance team did the same, with the same result. Everyone in the room became anxious, knowing that the entire competition could now be won by the maintenance crew at Washington Regional.
The CEO for Washington Regional was smiling from ear to ear.
Starting with the team captain, he asked each person of his maintenance crew to spell the word neither of the other two teams could master.
In succession, all of them misspelled the word. Gasps could be heard among the onlookers.
Finally, the last maintenance person from Washington Regional attempted to spell the word. As he said the last few letters, everyone knew that he had failed. The CEO put his head in his hands in disbelief.
The coordinator for the event, knowing that the moment was being televised on a local news channel, leaned in and asked the CEO, “What was the word none of the maintenance crews could spell? We have to know!”
After a moment, the CEO opened his right palm and laid the strip of paper with the impossible word face-up on the table in front of him.
The camera zoomed in to focus on the word.
On the strip of paper was written: R E P A I R E D