Welcome to the new Outpatient Surgery website! Check out our login FAQs.
Ideas That Work
The cure for empty-room syndrome
Zzz Zzz
Publish Date: October 10, 2007   |  Tags:   Ideas That Work

An empty OR loses money
When holding an OR for block time, make sure that your surgical coordinator calls each surgeon's office a week in advance to make sure that he's going to be booking surgery and not canceling at the last minute. You can also mail printouts of your block-time list to all your physicians and ask that they let you know in advance of any time they won't be using.

If a surgeon doesn't have any scheduled cases, release his block time. Review the monthly OR schedule each day and keep a list of the days when you have open booking time. Twice a month, fax every surgical coordinator a list of those times by simply listing the hours your ORs are free at the bottom of a standard fax form.

Judith A. Pasqualoni
Director of Operations
Hamden Surgery Center
Hamden, Conn.
writeMail("[email protected]")

Make a Picture Book to Soothe Pediatric Patients
Children who come to our center for surgery are understandably anxious. Often, their parents are, too. We looked at ways to make everyone feel more relaxed about the child's journey through the surgical circuit and decided a picture book would do the trick. Nancy Daugherty, administrative assistant in the business office, volunteered her granddaughter Kyla to star in the book. We took pictures of Kyla at each phase of the surgical process, from checking in at the receptionist's desk to saying her goodbyes to the PACU staff. Gina Hawkins, an accounts receivable coordinator, acted as Kyla's mother. The rest of the major players depicted in the book are actual members of the staff who treat the pediatric patients. That way, the child and parents recognize the smiling faces they encounter on the day of surgery as the same smiling faces they read about in the book. Each page is captioned to explain the picture's actions in simple terms. We show the book to the family during their visit the day before surgery. As an added bonus, we used a computer program to turn our pictures into a coloring book for the children to take home. Both books have been a huge hit and something we believe helps with reducing the fear of the unknown.

Karen Williams, MPH, CHES, NHA
Bristol Surgery Center
Bristol, Tenn.
writeMail("[email protected]")

Ask Job Candidates How They'd Handle Sticky Situations
The more you interview, the more you realize that basic questions really don't tell you much about how well a person can handle real-world situations. Try a more creative line of questioning - ask negative questions to see if you can get positive answers from candidates. For example, if you were to ask a candidate about a bad time she had with a child and she told you about a 13-year-old who was afraid of getting a shot, ask her how she handled the situation. A bad answer would be, "I sat on him and gave him the shot." A better but not really a good one would be, "I had someone restrain him while I gave the shot." A positive answer would be, "I talked to him about the shot, explained why it was necessary, gave him a treat afterwards and everything was fine."

Sometimes you'll get answers that are off the wall, such as when I asked a candidate to tell me about her current administrator and she said, "I have a problem with her. That's why I don't want to work for her anymore." Other times I got answers that showed the person was genuinely dedicated to the patients. Either way, you get more insight about the candidates and have a better idea of who you want to call back for a second interview.

Lynda Simon, RN
OR Manager
St. John's Clinic: Head & Neck Surgery
Springfield, Mo.
writeMail("[email protected]")

Organize Your Message Board
For a long time we struggled to keep our facility's message board uncluttered and organized. Not only did we want to relay messages without having to rely on people spotting the newest or most relevant paper thumbtacked up among so many others, but also we wanted a way for our staff to know at a glance what was where so they could get information quickly.

We took a tip from Quint Studer's book "Hardwiring Excellence" and put five words across the top of our message board: people, quality, growth, finance and service. Whenever we have something to post, we put it under one of these groups. For example, kudos for service or community health concerns go under "people," quality studies or letters from patients go under "quality" and notes about operating expenses go under "finance."

Susan Roland, RN
Administrative Director
North Florida Surgical Pavilion
Gainesville, Fla.
writeMail("[email protected]")