News: First efforts to optimize nursing see success

News: First efforts to optimize nursing see success

News: First efforts to optimize nursing see success

Team: Events, Training & News

Date: This is not a timed event.


A project that Interlake - Eastern RHA staff undertook to help reduce nursing overtime and agency costs has delivered the results that staff members were looking for! We were the first regional health authority to pilot the Provincial Nursing Workforce Optimization Project with a goal to reduce nursing and staff overtime and agency costs without affecting patient care. Managing the project at a regional level was Rose Djukic, a process engineer from the George & Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation (CHI) in Winnipeg. Since May 2017, Rose has worked with regional project teams to evaluate two acute care sites, Pinawa and Stonewall, and apply a LEAN approach to quality improvement. A third project in this region is being considered.

To apply the LEAN approach effectively, it was important for onsite working groups to include representatives from all staff groups that play a role in contributing to nursing and staff overtime and agency costs. Staff representatives for the onsite working groups in Pinawa and Stonewall included registered nurses, LPNs, health care aides, scheduling, payroll, labour relations, admin support, pharmacy technicians and respective clinical team managers. These groups focused on defining current processes, the issues to be addressed and how to change processes to reduce reliance on overtime and agency nursing over the long term.

Marion Ellis, vice-president of acute care, sponsored the project at a regional level with support from the senior leadership team. As a result of this project, gains have been made in both sites towards reducing overtime hours and the use of agency nurses. Even though Pinawa hospital’s patient numbers continue to keep the hospital at more than 100 per cent occupied, the team onsite has effectively reduced its occupancy rate compared to rates from the year previous. It has also saved over $21,000 by reducing nursing overtime and agency nursing hours from September 2017 to January 2018.

There is still more work to be done but it’s anticipated these savings will grow. Patients in Stonewall continue to keep that hospital at more than 100 per cent capacity as well but this team has also effectively reduced.

Its occupancy rate compared to the same time last year. The acute care team in Stonewall has a close working partnership with clinic staff so that people with minor medical issues can be redirected from the emergency room to clinics accepting new patients.

The team in Stonewall effectively reduced nursing overtime and agency costs by $20,500 in the first three months of this year. More good things are expected as the work continues in Stonewall.

According to Marion, the project has been a success in the region. “I had no doubt that the teams in Pinawa and Stonewall would be effective in achieving their objectives. While senior leadership was committed to ensuring the onsite teams had access to the resources they needed for their projects to be a success, I knew the solutions that would lead to improvement would come from the onsite working groups. By being the first in Manitoba to participate in the pilot projects, we have established a foundation for this project’s roll out to other RHAs that are addressing the same,” Marion said. “I congratulate all of the people who invested their time and understanding to this project. We wouldn’t be where we are today without each and every one of you! Thank you everyone.”

Next steps in Pinawa and Stonewall are to continue working on regional system challenges that have not yet been addressed. The onsite teams have identified ways they can adhere to the improved processes moving forward so we can continue to achieve appropriate workforce optimization over the long term and ensure we reap the benefit s of this good work for years to come.