Marcella Henry, Chief Compliance Officer
Transparency and accountability are hot buzzwords in today’s media. In general, transparency refers to “something that is easily seen by all.” From an operational perspective, this is a very high bar. For Sunrise, the principles of transparency are what lie at the core of our mission and allow us to best serve the people and families entrusted in our care.
Accordingly, it seemed a natural alignment when Sunrise voluntarily chose to establish a Compliance Program more than six years ago. In doing so, we became one of the first organizations in the field of developmental disabilities to formally instate a Compliance program. The rationale for establishing the precedent-setting program was based upon the following:
Principle 1: Ensure that the organization remains free from systemic fraudulent activities.
Principle 2: Assure that all employees consistently perform their duties and responsibilities in accordance with principle one.
Principle 3: Proactively promote good, sound business management practices throughout the organization.
Implementation of the Compliance program while ensuring transparency, was paramount in the. credibility of the program. With twenty-five years of operational experience, I was appointed to be the Compliance Officer and asked to develop Sunrise’s inaugural program. There were many challenges and my first step was to find a mentor who could guide me through designing a solid program. Shortly thereafter, Sunrise’s Board of Directors approved the Compliance Charter authorizing me comprehensive access to all areas in which Sunrise and our affiliates operate. Next, “buy in” from Executive Leadership and Management was required. I must confess that this step is still “a work in progress”.
Due to the geographic scope of Sunrise’s operations, internal communications and training proved to be yet another challenge in getting the program established. While the work was tedious, the good news is that as a result, vital information on Compliance was successfully disseminated to all staff in all seven states of operation with the support of key members of operations. Sunrise staff are now “fully armed” with the knowledge and empowered to “Do the Right Thing”! This has definitely been one of the most satisfying aspects of the job as Compliance Officer at Sunrise.
Another satisfying aspect during my travels to all our operations has been to be able to meet and engage with all levels of Sunrise staff and the people that we support. Through my actions, my words and on-going trainings, it is my goal that every Sunrise employee understands the innate value of our integrity-driven and transparent Compliance Program. The continued success of this program is directly related to the commitment and ongoing support of all staff, because Compliance is everyone’s responsibility. Standards have been established for all staff to maintain in their daily work routines and are reflected in our Code of Conduct. Having a work culture that is empowered to be transparent and “Do the Right Thing” is what will make the Compliance Program continue to be successful!