Kingston General Hospital leads patient-centred care reforms

February 13, 2012

New video interviews: KGH leaders on how to work with patients to truly shift culture.

“All of us just want to ensure that whoever arrives at KGH after us has a better (patient) experience and outcome than we personally had,” says Kingston General Hospital’s Patient Experience Advisor Jennifer Dee. In 1997, Jennifer contracted C-difficile at KGH, and subsequently got involved to use her own harrowing healthcare experience to make a difference for others. See a video interview with Jennifer.

KGH’s ongoing collaboration with vocal patient advisors like Jennifer Dee is already contributing to significant patient-centred changes, including: clearer, friendlier directional signage, hospital unit signage on hand hygiene compliance and infection rates (driving internal, competitive quality and safety improvements), new staff nametags to ensure patients can identify and better relate to their care team, whiteboards to clarify/ease patient hand-offs, and bed-side charting to facilitate more patient face time.

KGH’s “Outstanding Care Always” strategy
Since 2009, the hospital has taken great strides in partnering with patients to improve care, all grounded in its bold KGH 2015: Strategy for Outstanding Care Always led by CEO Leslee Thompson. The KGH plan was informed by wide public consultations with 2000 stakeholders after a troubled period when public trust was at an all-time low. KGH’s patient-centred care journey gained momentum after its executive team attended a conference by the Institute for Patient and Family Centred Care introducing them to the groundbreaking work of the Medical College of Georgia. A subsequent liaison and mentorship developed between KGH and the American College. “They are leaders on this front, and passionate about the value and impact of using a patient partnership model of care… and we learnt, you just have to get doing it.” says Eleanor Rivoire, KGH’s Senior VP Clinical Administration and Professional Practice and Chief Nursing Executive, on changing culture.

At the operational level, KGH’s fundamental shift in organizational culture started by truly embedding patients in all levels of decision-making from top boardroom tables to frontline staff hiring panels, with a focus on quality, safety and service. At the centre was the creation of 17-member Patient and Family Advisory Council comprised of twelve volunteer- patients, four staff and a physician. Patient advisors are chosen by the council and must have received care at the hospital. To ensure that the council is not just a public relations exercise, KGH has mandated that any new initiatives affecting patients must be presented at this forum, early in their development.

Patient advisors also sit on key internal committees to inject and spread the patient perspective, including: the Inter-professional Collaborative Practice Model steering committee, the Patient Flow Taskforce, and the newly formed Patient and Safety steering committee. KGH’s long-term goal is to include patients in every committee dealing with patient care by 2015. Daryl Bell, Chaplain and KGH Lead for Patient and Family Centred Care forecasts the eventual need for up to 200 Patient Advisors to cover the mounting demand for their input. Bell says: “Patients are the only ones who can tell us how our system really works. They are the only ones who know if they feel safe, if information was understandable, if tests and procedures were explained to them, and if they felt respected. So, they bring the perspective that no one else can really bring.”

While VP Rivoire cautions that KGH is still early on its patient-centred journey, it’s clear that the hospital has much to teach others travelling the same Excellent Care for All Act (ECFAA) mandated quality improvement path. She says KGH leadership is inspired and guided by the model advanced by Barbara Balik of the Institute of Healthcare Improvement – moving from “doing to” to “doing for” patients, to shifting to working with patients and families as equal partners in decision-making about their care. Balik was the keynote speaker at the Foundation’s 2011 Hot Talks on Health and Meeting of the Minds.

Video interviews with KGH leaders
Hear video interviews with three KGH leaders to learn more about achievements to date and future plans:

Eleanor Rivoire, Senior VP Clinical Administration and Professional Practice and Chief Nursing Executive, on changing culture
Daryl Bell, Co-Chair, Patient Advisory Council, on the why & how of adding the patient voice
Jennifer Dee, Patient Experience Advisor, on using her bad healthcare experience to make a difference.

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