Wheeling to success: Nursing Team speeds up return of stretchers to Emergency Department

Back row: André Poitras, Michael Norrish, Joanne Charbonneau, Karine Lepage, Margaret Hoodspith and Yves-Alex Dejean. Front row: Danny Broccoli, Samantha Prahalis, Georgia Papadopoulos. Not in the photo: Michael Angeles, Arnel Balazuela, Jonathan Harroche, Julia Mazzonna, Joël Pierre and Erin Cook.
Back row: André Poitras, Michael Norrish, Joanne Charbonneau, Karine Lepage, Margaret Hoodspith and Yves-Alex Dejean. Front row: Danny Broccoli, Samantha Prahalis, Georgia Papadopoulos. Not in the photo: Michael Angeles, Arnel Balazuela, Jonathan Harroche, Julia Mazzonna, Joël Pierre and Erin Cook.Front row: Danny Broccoli, Samantha Prahalis, Georgia Papadopoulos Not in the photo: Michael Angeles, Arnel Balazuela, Jonathan Harroche, Julia Mazzonna, Joël Pierre and Erin Cook

Lean Six Sigma project cuts average return time for stretchers to 22 minutes

What could be more irritating for a health professional than looking for a stretcher while trying to provide care? How do we ensure that such a situation occurs as rarely as possible both for Emergency Department staff and other teams at the Jewish General Hospital?

A Lean Six Sigma project that ran from March and October this year reviewed the movement of stretchers in the JGH. “Our goal was to improve efficiency and timeliness so that 80 per cent of stretchers were systematically returned to Emergency,” says Karine Lepage, project co-leader and Interim Head Nurse – Geriatric Medicine, NSA and Geriatric Clinic.

An interdisciplinary team from the JGH looked at how healthcare staff could be assured access to a stretcher — at least, as quickly as possible. The team was made up of professionals from the Department of Nursing, including managers, nurses, orderlies, transport attendants and unit agents.

As a result of the team’s review, the trajectory of stretchers between the Emergency Department and the different units and floors of the JGH has been completely revised.

The team’s analysis revealed that stretchers were more likely to remain in various departments and floors than returned to the Emergency Department. The Lean Six Sigma project reduced the number of steps in returning stretchers from 71 to 26 steps. A simplified and much more efficient process!

Before the project was implemented, only 27 per cent of stretchers, including those used at night, were returned to the Emergency Department. After two months of implementation, about 85 per cent of the stretchers were placed in a designated area and then returned to the Emergency Department. 

The process has become quicker, too. Now, it takes an average of only 22 minutes to ensure the stretchers’ return.

When needed, the project team can rely on the Alertus emergency notification system to transmit an alert to all computers in the JGH. Pre-determined care units can then intervene quickly and effectively.

“The project received only positive feedback from healthcare staff, who cited the improvement and efficiency of this new process, always for the benefit of all our patients”, says André Poitras, project team member and Clinical Administrative Coordinator in the Nursing Directorate.

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