2017-03-16 / Healthy Living

Health care and hospitals always evolve

Changing culture is an ongoing process at NCH, where over the past 60 years we have evolved from a frontier clinic to a rural hospital and then to a community health-care system. Today, we are a teaching institution with a graduate medical education program starting this July with 12 internal medicine residents.

With growth and complexity comes the opportunity to improve, which is why we now inculcating a behavioral change that embraces efficiency and effectiveness using lean transformation. I’ll explain with some examples of how we are encouraging our colleagues to ask questions, make suggestions, be engaged and enjoy the success of improvement.

The way we structure operations and solve problems has changed over the past three years under the leadership of Mustafa Abdulali, Dirk van Rossum and Chris Vasta. Examples abound with a common thread of front-line colleagues — who are most familiar with the requirements, processes and areas needing the greatest change — being most involved. A few notable recent projects are:

¦ A nurse at NCH has traditionally been responsible for a group of four to six patients. Under the leadership of Angela Devaney, nurse manager on the fourth floor at the North Naples hospital, however, our nurses and clinical technicians are now organized into teams in order to give one nurse who may be temporarily overwhelmed assistance by a nurse from their team. Think of bowling, where four team members act individually, versus soccer, where team members pass the ball among themselves in a very inter-dependent way. On the hospital floor, this kind of collaboration sounds like a simple mindset change, but it makes a huge difference for patient service, quality and safety, not to mention making for more satisfied and happier nurses.

Medication reconciliation, namely understanding what medicines a person is taking upon entering and leaving the hospital, is a huge challenge in our industry across America. Kim Thorp, our director of pharmacy, and Gina Teegarden, our associate chief nursing officer, and their colleagues are “on the case,” using everyone’s expertise, not merely brute force, to find a sustainable solution. While medication reconciliation is an ongoing journey, we have made significant progress.

¦ Cleaning surgical instrument trays is a complex and critical process that occurs more than 72,655 times a year in our Baker Hospital operating rooms. We had the opportunity to redo the downtown campus’ sterile processing department using a full-size mock-up to create the new space so our colleagues could “walk through” the process. Thanks to the efforts of a team led by Kieran Boyle, our sterile processing manager, many changes were made in the mock-up, quickly and inexpensively resulting in a much better final process characterized by fewer steps both physically and operationally.

In our ever-changing industry, we must constantly be more efficient and effective with our limited resources. Being prudent and using best practices copied from other successful industries will ultimately help NCH help everyone we serve live longer, happier and healthier lives. ¦

— Dr. Allen Weiss is president and CEO of the NCH Healthcare System.

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