Posted by: knightbird | June 2, 2011

“…I saw again the nurse I wanted to be.”

“When you first graduate, you really want to be the  perfect nurse—get to know your patients, explain things to them and make them comfortable. Then you get overwhelmed with tasks and everything starts slipping away,” said Jamie Guth, a nurse in the Collaborative Care unit. “The first day I spent shadowing another nurse in Collaborative Care, I saw again the nurse I wanted to be.” [i]

This story is told by a nurse at Thedacare after it used Lean Healthcare to change its culture to one focused on patients, and used lean tools to create value for their patients. The results are astounding. Patients improve quicker, nurses feel valued and start to love what they do again, and access to care improves as the cost for that care decreases.

Patients “want to be fixed—relieved from pain, returned to good health, assisted in delivering healthy babies. Everything else is noise and, very often, a waste of resources.”[ii]

A wise colleague of mine, and an employee who works for me, reminded me that in my zeal to help transform our Alaska Tribal Health System through adoption of a Lean Thinking Culture, I had shifted my advocacy to cost savings—because that is what the board and management focus on. It sometimes takes a wake-up call to remind us that healthcare is about health, achieving it, maintaining it and recovering it when we have lost it.

Thank you wise colleague.


[i] Toussaint, John and Gerard, Roger A., On the Mend: Revolutionizing Healthcare to Save Lives and Transform the Industry, p. 23, Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc. (2010)

[ii] ibid. p. 33

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