OHSCU nurses Devon Wilhelm-McMullen (left) and Ben Rawalt are seen discussing a patient in their unit. OHSCU is celebrating a 30-point gain in their patient satisfaction scores and continue to work on other metrics, including overall job satisfaction.
As an organization, we strive to be one of the top places to work in Omaha, attracting and retaining talented people. That’s certainly the goal of leaders in the Oncology Hematology Specialty Care Unit (OHSCU) who desire to make their unit the best in the world. Their focused journey of improvement began about two years ago and it’s one that continues today.
It began during their review of their National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI) survey results in the fall of 2014. The NDNQI survey assesses nurses’ job enjoyment, as well as their perception of their practice environment, which includes leadership, support and staffing resources.
“It provided us a better understanding of how we needed to address our culture challenges,” explains Theresa Woodrum, OHSCU manager. “We analyzed the survey scores and reached out to Employee Engagement for help.”
“This survey was taken during a difficult time,” adds OHSCU associate nurse manager Heidi Tonne. “Many of our nurses are newer nurses. When you have a newer staff treating very sick patients, it can be stressful.”
Linda Gloe, senior analyst, Organizational Development, conducted confidential focus groups to get an understanding of the staff’s concerns last spring. Gloe’s questions included: What behaviors would you like to see more or less of? What is your role in supporting change?
“I really appreciated that Linda also empowered the staff to also consider ‘what could I do to make this a better place to work?’” says Tonne.
From that effort, OHSCU renewed its commitment to creating a culture of clinical excellence, engagement, professionalism, accountability and improved staff satisfaction. With that, changes were made. Tonne says she and Woodrum began coming in around 3 or 4 a.m. alternating weeks to provide greater access to the night staff and an opportunity to talk with them. The two also made an effort to increase communication by sending out their availability for the day through a Voalte’ text.
Around the same time, OHSCU’s Unit Based Council (UBC) rolled out action plans for call lights and bed checks. They implemented the “5-foot rule” which means anyone within five feet of a patient’s room needs to address a call light, even by simply saying “I will get your nurse”, says Tonne.
“We really embraced the concept ‘every patient is our patient’,” Tonne says.
The unit adopted a vision statement of “Safe. Accountable. Caring.”
The unit’s Press Ganey scores improved dramatically this past summer. They achieved the 100 percentile mark for the question “please rate the hospital” and jumped more than 30 percentile points for the question “how quickly were you helped to the toilet.”
The unit also increased its score by nearly 30 points for the question that rates the hospital staff and made a 15-point increase in the call light response time.
“We were working really hard,” says Tonne. “Staff was very engaged. We also focused on holding each other accountable.”
Tonne says their newer nurses now have more than two years of experience, which helped tremendously with their confidence to care for patients.
“They have grown tremendously in their oncology knowledge and their ability to care for pediatric, adult and critical care patients,” says Tonne. “Our entire staff has worked extremely hard to ensure our patients are well cared for and part of a family, not just another patient.”
Unit leadership is celebrating their impressive gains in their patient satisfaction scores, and while this fall’s NDNQI scores didn’t improve the way they hoped, Tonne is not discouraged.
“It can be emotionally difficult to work on OHSCU because of the nature of the patients we treat, but it is also very rewarding,” she says. “This fall, we had several long-term patients pass away. It’s hard. We can look at our staff and know everyone is working very hard. Not only have our Press Ganey scores improved, but we’ve seen great improvements in our quality scores, too.”