Lean stories from the field: Sun Country

Sun Country Enironmental Services

Sun Country Health Region, along with all other health regions in Saskatchewan, is implementing the Lean system of management. One of the concepts being introduced to staff is kaizen, a Japanese term that means continuous, incremental improvement. Employees who identify waste or a potential safety issue are learning how to address problems using various improvement tools such as 5S and team huddles. Employees are closely involved and engaged in these grassroots, small-scale improvements. Here are two examples from Kipling Memorial Health Centre that demonstrate this concept of kaizen:

Wash Basin Blues
A wash basin that nursing staff use daily had traditionally been stored on a shelf that required a stool to reach it. A member of the nursing staff identified this is as a potential safety risk, and “stopped the line!”

A team comprising nurses and Environmental Services staff assessed the situation and determined that items kept on lower shelves were no longer used, or could be stored in a better location. Using 5S, the team reorganized the shelves. Items that are no longer usable were removed, while others materials were moved elsewhere. Now, the nurses can safely reach the wash basin and all other supplies they need to care for patients.

No parking zone
Some time ago, Environmental Services staff identified a safety hazard but couldn’t get sufficient cooperation from other staff to change the situation. Residents’ wheelchairs and walkers were often parked so close to the housekeeping room that Environmental Services staff could not safely enter and exit the room with their cleaning carts.

One day, staff “stopped the line” over the problem. All staff were called to a huddle and made aware of the danger. Using a technique from 5S, environmental staff put reflective red and silver tape on the floor to mark out a ‘no park’ zone. New signs were posted. The new methods worked and wheelchairs and walkers are now consistently kept out of this space.

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One Response to “Lean stories from the field: Sun Country”

  1. Al Macphee
    February 5, 2014 at 11:32 am #

    In response to wash basin blues I think that this story is an embarrassment to all the employees that work in this region. To think that one would have to stop work and call a committee to study this as opposed to using commen sense and moving the basin to the bottom shelf is beyond me. I certainly hope that this is not what we are paying a whole department to figure out.

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