Improvement work restores faith in health care for patient, families

2013-09-18 Patient panel RQHR

Larry and Sharon Myers got involved in helping improve health care at Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region (RQHR) because they needed a way to make sense of their son’s death.

“It’s part of the healing process,” said Larry, whose son, Cameron, experienced several surgeries and hospitalizations at Regina General Hospital. “It’s also very rewarding.”

The Myers, along with Janet Barber and Doug Schiffner, were representatives on a panel of patients and family members at RQHR’s Semi Annual Review. Panel members were asked to share their health care experiences as well talk about their work as part of a Rapid Process Improvement Workshop (RPIW) team.

The panel, facilitated by Vice President of Quality and Transformation Marlene Smadu, took place at Pasqua Hospital on Sept. 17, the second day of the event. The review is both a showcase of the Region’s improvement work in the first year of RQHR’s Lean journey and an opportunity to learn from other regions and agencies.  Included in the audience were leaders from the RQHR, the Ministry of Health, the Saskatchewan Health Quality Council, the province’s health regions, provincial health care agencies and John Black and Associates.

The Myers and Barber noted that many of their frustrations with the health care system were because of a lack of communication. The Myers noted that, for example, they were not informed of a stroke that their son experienced until several days after the fact.

“We were making huge decisions on his behalf and were not given the information we needed,” said Sharon.

Communication is key, said Larry. “We ask that you talk to one another and that you talk to us.

“Every patient is somebody’s son or daughter.  Ask yourself, ‘How would you like them to be treated?’”

Barber said that, in one instance, she was excluded from learning about her hospitalized adult son’s care because he had not given consent for the Adult Mental Health Unit to share his information with her. She knows that the policy is intended to protect the patient, but her son was far too ill to provide consent. She felt very much in the dark about his care and was horrified when her son, who was at risk of eloping, left the unit without staff initially noticing and was found in Deer Valley in his pyjamas.

She also said that she experienced communication breakdowns between the hospital and community-based mental health organizations.

“I have often felt that many of the bad experiences involved good people working in a bad system,” said Barber, whose son has been admitted six times to the Adult Mental Health Unit.

Her observation struck a chord with Amy Strudwick, a registered psychiatric nurse and Surgical Kaizen Operations Team member.

“I am part of the system that caused harm to your son,”


said Strudwick, who made the remark during the question-and-answer portion of the event. “It sucks being on the other end, too, when parents phone and ask how their child is doing and you can’t tell them anything. That isn’t right. As a mom, I’m really sorry you had to go through that.”

Barber said she represented the patient/family voice as part of a Rapid Process Improvement Workshop (RPIW) team “because if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” The RPIW in which she participated focused on eliminating cancelled and rescheduled patient appointments with psychiatry.

Barber said, “I found the process quite rewarding and I am honoured to be part of a group making so many changes. I felt I was an equal part of the group.”

The other participants agreed. Said Larry, who with Sharon has advocated for some time for the inclusion of patients and families in daily rounds, “Our previous experiences, although positive, have involved several meetings taking place over several months to resolve issues that these workshops solved over five days.”

Barber noted that since her RPIW experience, she feels “Cautiously optimistic [about the state of the health care system]. We have a long way to go. It’s like asking, ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ One bite at a time.”

Photo: Kaizen Promotion Office. L-R: Marlene Smadu, Vice President of Quality and Transformation, with patient/family member panelists Doug Schiffner, Larry and Sharon Myers and Janet Barber.

(Source: RQHR’s elink)

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