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Ideas That Work
Thank Your Stars
Diana Procuniar
Publish Date: October 10, 2007   |  Tags:   Ideas That Work

Diana Procuniar, RN, BA, CNOR As managers, we've heard again and again that people want to be recognized. Last year, after attending a management program on leadership, we created our "ROC STAR" awards. ROC is our facility - the Riley Outpatient Center - and STAR stands for service, teamwork, attitude, respect. The award recognizes the simple, everyday things that people do, things that might ordinarily be overlooked, that show a positive attitude or set a good example. We give the recipients a star-shaped pin with the letters ROC STAR on it, and post the month's stars in the reception area. If someone earns 10 stars they can trade them for a small gift, such as a lunch or a parking pass.

Diana Procuniar, RN, BA, CNOR \ The best thing about the awards is that they're not just management recognizing the staff. Staff members can make recommendations to us, too. It's a forum for everyone who works here to give credit where credit is due, and it keeps us managers connected to what's going on at our facility.

Recently, for instance, we awarded a star to a staffer who worked extra hours before taking time off for a personal appointment in order to help out during a staffing crunch. Another star went to a nurse who worked an unexpectedly scheduled procedure and was prepared, cool and even cheerful under pressure.

Donna Bopp, BSN, MSN, CNOR
Clinical Operations Manager
Riley Outpatient Surgery Center
Indianapolis, Ind.
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To Your Staff's Mental Health
Of all the perks and benefits you can offer your employees, few are as important as good emotional health. We sponsor an employee assistance program through which any of our employees - nurses, administrators, even physicians - can obtain counseling for any personal crisis they or members of their family are going through.

We've contracted with a local psychology practice, and for $28 per employee per year, all of our staff have recourse to confidential outside help if they need it. There's no cost to them, so there's no excuse for them not to take advantage of it. Since some of the psychologists and masters of social work there specialize in the area of workplace relations, it's also a great benefit for our facility: they can assist as a mediator in the event of discipline or termination.

Given the stressful jobs we have, the effects that outside-of-work factors can have on job performance and the costs that go into hiring and training employees, $28 per employee per year is very cost-effective in showing our employees that they're in a supportive environment.

Dottie Sorg, RN
Quality Improvement Administrator
Oregon Eye Surgery Center
Eugene, Ore.
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A Schedule for the Schedulers
We're a small facility - two ORs, but we only use one at any given time - and sometimes cases get put on our schedule pretty randomly. We have a tight relationship with a surgeons' group in the office across the hall from us, but after their scheduler had to call repeatedly to ask when OR time was available, the doctors started complaining that they could never schedule their procedures.

They're an important customer to us, so every Friday I draw up an availability grid and shade out the blocks of time that are already occupied. I deliver it to their office as a way of saying, "Here's what next week looks like." That way they know when they can get into the OR, and also whether any usual blocks have been released. We also make up a grid for our endo and pain management rooms.

I've heard it said that the most important relationship in this job is the one you have with the schedulers. Letting them know your schedule gets your face in front of them, literally, and makes their job a little easier. We see a lot more cases coming in now, so I think it's working.

Maggie Johnson, BAN, CNOR, CASC
Center for Outpatient Surgery
Sartell, Minn.
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Reward Staff for Ideas That Save
If an employee comes up with a cost-saving idea, she earns 10 percent of what she saved the facility for the year. We've created a process for this incentive. Staff present the idea to us in outline form - you don't want to make it so cumbersome that they resist submitting their ideas - and I review it. If I have questions, I'll ask them, but if it looks like we're good to go, I'll have them do the research and project the cost savings. It's their project, so they manage it.

There are a few rules governing the ideas: one, it can't be illegal. Two, it has to be a cost we can control at our own center; we're part of a larger health system, and it can't have a negative impact on anyone else in the system. And three, if it involves a product change, we have to have the physicians sign off on it. I take the ideas to our nursing and clinical staff, then we implement them for six months on a trial basis and track the actual savings. If it works, we double the amount saved to annualize it and give the employee her 10 percent of that.

Gwen Grothouse, RN
Administrative Director
Apple Hill Surgical Center
York, Pa.
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Diana Procuniar, RN, BA, CNOR\