May 3, 2016

HR and Central Sterile Processing partner for a department win

The central sterile processing (CSP) department plays a crucial role at VUMC, providing best practice processing services for the operating room staff and clinicians across the medical enterprise. Their services span across 50 operating rooms with an average of 135 surgical procedures performed in a day, and also provide support for 37 onsite clinics and 20 additional offsite clinics. Without CSP, perioperative services and reprocessing support needed for clinics across the Medical Center would not be complete.

 After last year’s Community Survey, the department knew they had some opportunities to make their work environment more positive. Using the data from the survey, they were able to narrow their focus on these areas: lack of communication; frustration in not fully understanding the roles of employees in other areas in which they interact; and the struggles with lifting heavy trays.

The 2015 Staff Community Pulse Survey allowed for an opportunity for the CSP department to be heard and help build a better work environment for themselves and their colleague. This year, the 2016 VUMC Culture Survey will do the same — for all departments across the Medical Center.

Sarah Little, HR consultant, worked closely with Tanya Stellges, director of CSP, to develop a particular bundle of initiatives to best suit her team and their needs.

The CSP has several off-site facilities, many of which operate 24/7. This can make meeting together as a department challenging. Little began the partnership by sharing ideas for conducting Insights and Ideas sessions. These sessions gave the CSP staff an opportunity to share their wins. It is also a time to share any suggestions for needed improvement; Little provides feedback from the meetings with the CSP leadership. The leadership team then takes any process improvements from the sessions and begins to focus in on them.

“It’s really a win for my leadership team, and a win for my staff,” said Stellges.

CSP employees also expressed concerns of a lack of communication and the struggle of understanding roles in other departments they interact with.

The solution? Stellges implemented a department newsletter to share topics identified from the idea sessions, introduces new processes within the department and celebrates new hires. She also uses it as an educational tool on process improvements across the board.

“Celebrating employees’ work helps retain hard-working and loyal employees,” said Stellges. “The idea sessions with HR are times where employees can have a voice and our department newsletter is the outlet to project those voices.”

Stellges also developed meet-and-greet sessions between CSP and other departments they need to collaborate with in order to better understand how they better work together in their roles at VUMC. This also gave them the opportunity to focus on how to improve teamwork.

The CSP department experienced a concern for something that other departments at VUMC may not experience on a daily basis — the struggle of lifting heavy trays. Stellges worked with Occupational Health and their ergo dynamic team to improve CSP processes with heavy trays to reduce the risk of injury. In addition, she purchased several items to help employees perform more efficiently and safely, including ergo dynamic workstation chairs and an assembly table with magnifying lamps.

A partnership was formed between human resources and central sterile processing that allowed employees’ voices to be heard and actions to be taken to improve VUMC.

“The most important lesson is that employees need a voice, and giving them an opportunity to share their suggestions and concerns not only helps develop better processes and procedures, but it also encourages employees’ engagement and retention,” said Little.

Be on the lookout for more feature stories about departments at VUMC partnering with HR to not only improve and build on their successes, but improve VUMC as a whole.

Don’t forget to speak up during this year’s 2016 VUMC Culture Survey, starting Monday, May 16.