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Staff can learn about improvement projects
Looking for a fun way to share your accomplishments with the rest of the staff, and teach them a little bit about quality to boot? Why not try a performance improvement fair? That’s what Ruby Redfield, BSN, RHIA, CPHQ, director of performance improvement (PI) for Unity Health Center in Shawnee, OK, has been doing for the past 10 years and with great success.
"We highlight all of our performance improvement projects; it’s one large education session," she says. The hospital’s vendors come in at 7 a.m. on the day of the fair and set up until noon, at which time the fair begins. The peer review organization also participates.
"Our peer review organization sets up a booth and shows our own data compared to other hospitals in the quality projects we do," Redfield says. "They love doing it. Some of the vendors we partner with to improve outcomes . . . also bring in data." Vendors from other areas of safety, housekeeping, and infection control also participate.
Besides being fun, the PI fairs serve an important purpose. "They help get people ready for the Joint Commission [on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations], and they educate the entire staff about all the busy work that goes on here," she explains. "It shows them the big picture on things they think management isn’t telling them about, and some even say, Gosh, that’s neat; I want to be a part of it."
A number of the presentations show how the projects have saved money, reduced staff time, or in other ways benefited the employees. In addition, the employees can earn safety credits at the fair. "We number the poster presentations and give them a test," Redfield adds. "The questions are in the same order as the posters, so traffic flows better."
Creative planning has helped boost the fairs’ popularity. For example, since the national Infection Control Week and Quality Weeks always occur in October, the quality and infection control departments at Unity combine their efforts. "It’s gotten bigger every year," Redfield says. "The last time, we had 17 vendors and maybe 40 posters from departments that had a quality project." Hospitalwide teams, or interdepartmental teams, also participate, she notes. The fairs usually were held in the hospital’s large wellness center, but when new construction was under way, it was held in hallways. "We have about 640 employees, and we end up getting about 70% of them to come through," Redfield adds.
Noting the success of fairs she has learned about through articles and Internet sites, Linda Wennberg, RN, is anxious to get one started for her center, which has about 50 beds and a 90-bed attached skilled care nursing facility. "Let’s face it; performance improvement is very boring," concedes Wennberg, head coordinator of performance improvement for departments in Northwest Medical Center in Thief River Falls, MN. "We’re trying to make it more than something that’s mandated. It should help to get that buy-in and keep education levels up."
Her fair will be organized by the center’s facilitation team, co-chaired by Wennberg and the hospital chief operating officer, and consisting of the board of directors and the quality council — with representatives from different departments, including maintenance and labs as well as. "We require all our departments to do some individual [quality] work," she explains. The PI fair will help interdepartmental communication, Wennberg says. "The other departments used to report to us on a quarterly basis; we’d have a pizza party and talk about what was going on."
The same people would always talk, she notes, and "no matter what we tried, we would not get anywhere." Manager buy-in clearly was needed, she says, so the meetings were made semiannual, with quarterly reports to management. "Now, we’ve just begun speaking about perhaps having a PI fair in November," she says, "doing fun things as a way of learning and to get people to share. We’re learning what story boards are and are having fun with it."
Wennberg says she wants to use the cafeteria or one of the meeting rooms and involve not just department managers but line staff as well. "We just want to concentrate on PI. To let people know that this is not something strange or foreign, and that you should take pride in what you do."
Need more information?
Ruby Redfield, BSN, RHIA, CPHQ, Director of Performance Improvement, Unity Health Center, Shawnee, OK. Telephone: (405) 878-8158.
Linda Wennberg, RN, Head Coordinator, Performance Improvement, Northwest Medical Center, Thief River Falls, MN. Telephone: (218) 683-4327.