Unit-Based Council Makes Real Change to Improve Delivery of Care

When it comes to ensuring safe care, White Rock Medical Center is taking a team approach.

Groups of staff members are coming together as committees for their units. Called unit-based councils, these small groups lead their units in developing ways to improve delivery of care, ensure patient safety, provide a good patient experience, and build an environment that fosters teamwork.

The ICU’s unit-based council is the first of its kind at White Rock Medical Center. Comprised of six staff members from the unit, including different disciplines and shifts, the council champions issues that affect the unit and how to resolve them, explained IJ Odueze, RN, director of the ICU.

“The unit-based council fosters teamwork because it empowers frontline staff to identify problems, share with others and create solutions. It helps them succeed and ensure our patients are receiving safe care,” said Odueze.

The ICU’s unit-based council has met only once but already has taken actions that are making significant change. For instance, the unit needed mobile computer workstations, called workstations on wheels (WOWs), but had several that required repair.

“Staff had complaints about broken equipment. When in a hurry or caring for patients, they were simply set aside. All it took was re-education about the process of filing an IT ticket. Most WOWs were able to be fixed. The solution was to learn and follow the existing process,” explained Kristina Palmer, RN, a charge nurse who also serves as chair of the ICU’s unit-based council.

Another action item was a partnership with the lab to create an educational poster regarding lab specimen collection kits, which has reduced errors and calls to the lab, saving time and, more importantly, reducing the opportunity for errors. In fact, the poster is being shared with other departments by the lab throughout the hospital.

“This was so important because if the specimen is sent to the lab wrong, it takes time to rerun the lab again, which can delay care, and, in turn, could extend a patient’s stay in the hospital,” Odueze said.

“This is true performance improvement at the bedside,” added Inna Makievsky, RN, interim chief nursing officer. “Often errors happen because there’s not a process in place. For lab specimens, for example, ICU has changed the process so that it’s more difficult for someone to make the error. This makes it much safer for the patients.”

Unit-based councils will be starting in other units at White Rock soon.