The Model Cell By Karin League, MSN, RN, NEA-BC and James Nataro, MD, PhD, MBA, FAAP

Karin LeagueNataroJ

We are all well aware that the University of Virginia Health System is in the midst of what is called a “Lean Transformation”, a restructuring of our organization to reduce waste and to make us the safest place to both deliver and receive care.  The Be Safe principles have permeated the fabric of our institution, and have helped us reduce morbidity and mortality, while at the same time improving both employee and patient satisfaction.

The next step in our transformation is to identify specific areas of the organization where Be Safe principles will be raised to the highest level, where they will become the foundation of everything we do.  This would be like an injection of anabolic steroids into our service – a seismic shift that could rapidly get us to the place we aspire to go.  To realize this goal, our leaders have decided to focus on a small number of sites and services in the Health System, places that will be asked to pioneer this fundamental transformation.   Because of our already strong commitment to the Be Safe program, the Women’s and Children’s service line has been asked to become the first full service line to act as a model cell.  We have named this effort the Families First Initiative.

What will this mean to you, as a caregiver in the Children’s Hospital?  First, we ask that accept the fundamental tenets: that the patient is the focus of all we do, and that we owe to the patient and his/her family the right care at the right place and at the right time, free from harm.  Moreover, we recognize that you, the caregiver, have the right to expect safety and respect in your workplace.  The Health System is behind us to provide the setting and the structure to achieve these aims.  But our institution is above all us, it is thousands of people who give their all every day and who determine the course of a patient’s illness and each other’s experience.

To realize the aims of the Model Cell, we have articulated some basic steps:

  • Be knowledgeable about Be Safe/Lean methodology and problem solving tools and language
  • Participate in active problem solving
    • Detailed Be Safe Event reporting
    • Gather perishable information
    • A3s
    • Huddles/Debriefs
    • Work Groups
  • Support other team members participating in Model Cell activities
    • Coverage, etc.
  • Know where to find and how to use the tools to problem solve
  • Know when and how to escalate issues and/or activate the Help Chain
  • Know who the appropriate contact within the Help Chain is when needed
  • Support orienting new team members to Be Safe methodology

We, the leaders of this service line, will be there for you every day, assuring that you have the tools and the support to achieve our goals.  We want to hear from you how we can do this better.  Together, we can do amazing things.  Below are links to resources where you can learn more about Be Safe and its tools. 

Jim and Karin

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