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Charleston VA employees initiate improvements

Nutrition and Food Service employee Broderick Belton helps Veteran Douglas Kyle select his inpatient meal through the use of an iPad. Photo by Brandy Sims.
Nutrition and Food Service employee Broderick Belton helps Veteran Douglas Kyle select his inpatient meal through the use of an iPad. Photo by Brandy Sims.

In May, during the Ralph H. Johnson VAMC Hospital Week Celebration, employees throughout the medical center, clinics and off-site locations were asked to participate in a Digital Scavenger Hunt.

The activity was fun and designed to encourage staff to identify improvements that have made a positive impact on patient care or their work environment. A SharePoint site, accessible by all employees, was set-up to receive submissions from staff.

“We were excited to hear directly from our employees what’s going on in their area,” said Charleston VAMC Director Scott Isaacks.

The Hinesville and Trident CBOCs, Pharmacy, Nutrition and Food Service, Radiology and Safety Service all participated in the scavenger hunt—each submitting multiple improvement initiatives that have recently occurred in their area. These are some of the entry highlights:

  • Hinesville CBOC added a welcome desk manned by volunteers to improve the Veteran experience by giving a warm greeting and directions when Veterans enter the building. They also added a Helping Hands Board that allows coworkers to celebrate each other when they go above and beyond.
  • Trident CBOC redesigned workrooms to better utilized space, facilitate PACT Primary Care Team communication and improve efficiency during patient appointments. The clinic flipped tele-health and pharmacist rooms and initiated the potential to bring tele-wound services to the clinic. The lab space was recently renovated to maximize space and improve flow and process times.
  • Pharmacy transformed their procurement area to add a third desk for a new employee to receive medication and prepare it for distribution to the growing number of Veteran patients served by Charleston VAMC. They transformed a storage space to office space to help keep teaching staff on-site for their eight pharmacy residents and best facilitate hands-on learning.
  • Nutrition and Food Service established a Food Pantry to assist Veterans in need and organized a home delivery service for home bound Veterans. They implemented iPad usage for meal selection at the bedside to increase speed and accuracy of inpatient meal orders, and new ovens were installed to improve meal prep time.
  • Radiology improved Veteran access by securing a Radiologist in-house seven days a week, adding a third CT scanner and adding new support staff positions.
  • Safety added a handicap curb ramp at the Research Building and Charlie Street to make this area more accessible for all Veterans, visitors and employees. They also proactively monitor sidewalks for cracks to prevent slips and falls.
  • For their participation, staff in these areas were recognized at the medical center’s June Awards Ceremony and presented with their Engage in Excellence pins. These pins reflect the staff’s initiative to always be looking for improvements and to creatively find solutions that ultimately benefit the care Veterans receive at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center.

    “I am truly impressed by the employee-driven changes in our medical center and clinics that have improved the Veteran experience and increased employee satisfaction,” said Isaacks. “The initiative of these services and clinics to identify a need, involve the right staff and make a change is a prime example of Engaging in Excellence by Engaging in Leadership.”

    Isaacks is referring to the next step in Charleston VAMC’s strategic plan, where employees are being asked to embody the characteristics and habits of a strong leadership in their area. Things like leading with a positive attitude, helping co-workers develop skills, and speaking up if something isn’t working well are all ways employees can demonstrate strong leadership. This new charge is something Isaacks is certain employees will tackle with enthusiasm and innovative thinking to continue to enhance the safe, effective, high quality health care that Charleston VAMC provides every day.

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