Managers: Re-evaluation of procedures paying off for Meritus Medical Center

July 07, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS |
  • Meritus Medical Center is seen in this file photo.
Meritus Medical Center is seen in this file photo.

HAGERSTOWN — In the transition from Washington County Hospital to Meritus Medical Center, what began as a consultation about where to place patients turned into a re-evaluation of nearly everything staff members do, according to hospital officials.

Beginning about 18 months before the move, the hospital worked with Sg2, a health care analytics company that helped Meritus redesign more than 130 care processes, Meritus Health Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Operations Deborah Addo Samuels said.

In a recent interview, Samuels and project manager Kelsey Wilkes talked about that project and reflected on how, more than six months after the new hospital’s opening, patients and staff are benefiting from its recommendations.

Samuels said Meritus commissioned Sg2 as an outside expert that would bring experience with other hospital systems to the design of Meritus Medical Center.

“We wanted to, in one of the phrases Jim Hamill used to use a lot, ‘not build a new, old Washington County Hospital,’” Samuels said, quoting the health system’s former president and CEO.

Some data the analytics company offered was not surprising, Samuels said. The company predicted that the need for senior care would continue to grow, while pediatric needs would remain stable or decline, she said.

Wilkes said what most intrigued her was the way the company asked staff to create flow maps of their actions and reconsider why they did things the way they did.

“Every step we would come up with, they would say, ‘Well tell us why you do that,’” Wilkes said. “And if anybody said, ‘Well, I always do it that way,’ that was like an immediate foul.”

The process helped staff recognize that many of their processes were tied to the old hospital building, and they designed more-efficient approaches for the new building, she said.

For example, in the new building, the courtesy van picks up patients behind the building while cars pick up around front, so discharge processes had to be modified to take the mode of transportation into account, Wilkes said.

Samuels said, overall, the hospital was happy with the outcomes of the project.

“With any consultation, you take some of it, you ignore some of it and you tweak some of it, and I think that’s exactly what we did,” she said. “It did force us out of our comfort zone, and it forced us to think differently, and it brought to the table tried-and-true methodologies.”

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