Cornwall – October 31, 2013 – In 2011, Cornwall Community Hospital (CCH) introduced a culture of continuous improvement (CI) to its organization. CI is not a program with a predetermined start and end date that will be completed when one problem is resolved. It is a way of thinking that is designed to be used every day to make the hospital a more efficient work environment for years to come. Everything from how patients receive their food, to analyzing the steps a nurse takes to file a patient’s records are considered when using the CI or “Lean” thought process. It’s all about finding ways to eliminate needless steps, or “waste,” which hinders the productivity of staff.
Within the CI environment exists groups of individuals who are trained in the principles and strategies of efficiency. As each person gains education they go to the next level of certification. These levels are classified by coloured belts – white, yellow, green, and black. With approximately one quarter of hospital staff having already been trained on the white belt level, more and more employees are eager to get on board with the idea of continuous improvement because they are seeing how quickly it can produce results.
This past summer, three staff members from Child and Youth Counselling Services (CYCS), the Assault and Sexual Abuse Program (ASAP), and the Psychogeriatric Team were tasked with decreasing wait times in their respective programs using the skills they learned in their training. According to John Welton, Vice-President of North American Operations for Leading Edge Group which is responsible for all the Lean training at CCH, all three participants demonstrated fantastic results, thereby confirming how beneficial CI can be.
Diane Caron, Occupational Therapist for the Psychogeriatric Team, explained her experience as nothing but positive, “we achieved amazing results while implementing new processes that have seen wait times for screenings drop by 53 per cent.” Ms. Caron also estimated that cycle times (time it takes to see a client, get collateral information, and write a report) for assessments have decreased by 40 per cent, without having affected the quality of the interventions. “There is a particular energy with projects like these… that creates momentum for change,” she added.
Keeping up with demand is a common challenge all hospitals face. In Ms. Caron’s case, what was once a 46-step process for clients to receive support has now been trimmed to 23, making it possible to take in more clients faster. By creating a map of every step taken in the treatment system, Ms. Caron was able to identify and rid the waste that was impeding her service’s progress. Ultimately, clients who are in need of help from the psychogeriatric team now only see a service wait time of 23 days instead of the previous amount which had them waiting 37 days.
“What surprised me the most about the findings, was how Lean really works and how amazing the changes have been for the team, and how much more efficient we are. Most importantly, our clients can now access our services much faster,” said Ms. Caron. “I am looking forward to leading some more projects in the next six months and seeing our services continuously improve.”
Along with Ms. Caron’s successful experience, the two other participants, Sarah Kaplan – Manager of ASAP, and Natasha Scott – Mental Health Counsellor CYCS, also saw positive results by substantially lowering wait times for the Addictions and Community Health Programs at CCH.