Process Improvements are ongoing improvements for Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, Illinois When Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet, Illinois began preparation to move to their new facility in New Lenox, Illinois, Jim Tyrell, Sterile Processing Manager realized it was an ideal time to implement some process and workflow improvements. In preparation, the Sterile Processing staff identified several initiatives they wanted to tackle before they moved. This meant they could leave old habits behind and be better prepared to service their customers in the new hospital. Today with many of these processes fully implemented, the department continues to seek other opportunities to enhance the business of delivering excellent patient care. When Jim shared with me all of the QA initiatives that the department had accomplished, it was difficult to narrow it down to just one to share. I especially liked the following two projects: Demand based staffing: To ensure that manpower was distributed as needed at peak times during the day, it was important to first understand the workflow at all critical points in the overall process. A Value Stream Map of the decontamination area was developed to identify trends in washer utilization and eliminate any waste from the system. In assembly, afternoon staff was moved to an earlier schedule to manage the heavy caseloads on the a.m. shift. This volume based model served to evenly divide workload by adjusting the number of staff at given times throughout the day. Another project the staff initiated was improving the organization of instruments and sterilization trays. Single instruments are now being sorted by specialty and placed in bins that are properly labeled with identification of the device. This shortens the time it takes to "pick" a missing instrument and improves worker safety. In addition barcodes were removed from the outside of their sterilization containers so the trays no longer had to be matched up or scanned to a particular tray of instruments. Both of these improvements have decreased setup time in assembly. When I asked Jim what he attributed to the department's overall success he said, "We are not satisfied with the status quo and are always looking for the next improvement project to make things better for the staff, internal customers and our patients." Here's to the Heart of the Hospital!


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