Priming for Patients: Construction completion pushed back

Nathan Liewicki
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Five Hills Health Region (FHHR) is adamant about providing improved and more efficient care to patients and their families.

Five Hills Health Region CEO Cheryl Craig stands by a billboard inside Moose Jaw Union Hospital. Craig is excited for the opening of the new Regional Hospital in 2015. 

The opening of the new Regional Hospital in 2015 will provide that improved level of care, but the FHHR is already working toward enhancing patient and family care experiences in a variety of ways.

Currently, there are two big focus points the health region is working toward.

“Right now we are trying to think more from the perspective of our patients and their family members, and trying to reduce the waste that surrounds things,” said FHHR communication co-ordinator Kyle Matthies.

During the design of the new hospital, FHHR staffers looked at ways waste could be minimized. CEO Cheryl Craig specifically noted  “non-value add” items were things that could be removed from hospital rooms.

Moose Jaw Union Hospital staff have already started to roll out ways of reducing non-value add items and replacing them with items patients and their families are more likely to use during their stay.

One of those items is a kit staff in the medicine ward has begun given to patients. Included in the kits is a map of the hospital, which notes specific locations like the cafeteria, washrooms and the gift shop.

“We are really wanting to make sure we have the right metrics and the right data telling us the story in terms of what services we need to improve and how we will improve them,” said Craig.

The new Crescent View Clinic, or Greenfield site, is another way FHHR hopes to eliminate major stresses on hospital staff and patients alike.

Open only a few days a week, including every second weekend, the clinic – operated by nurse practitioners – is an alternative to the hospital’s emergency room. The health region expects the clinic will shrink wait times for patients requiring medical care.

It will also operate some evening hours, a time Craig noted some family physicians are not available and busy with patients coming to the emergency room who don’t require emergency care.

Enter the Greenfield site to treat things such as minor burns, ear pain, fractures, immunizations and colds.

Craig wants to make sure there's a strong link between patients and their personal physician. So even when patients are unable to see their physician and visit the clinic, they leave knowing there is a primary health-care worker who will be there to ben on his or her team.

That, she said, is the ultimate goal.

“If people need attention or care, but don't need to come to emergency, they should know the right place to go to get that care service – and to have the confidence to know that's the right care service for them,” said Craig. “It's not that we haven't paid attention to that before, but we are paying attention in a whole different way. 

Five Hills is also paying attention to patients’ needs from a technological position.”

All of the new infrastructure will be in place in the new Regional Hospital prior to the move in date. The health region has started to experiment with a few early levels of technological advancement that is expected to cut down on wasted time and energy from both health-care workers and patients.

Union Hospital has started cutting down on paper usage, specifically as it relates to medical records. Replacing piles of medical files with electronic medical records (EMRs) is something FHHR, as well as other health regions throughout Saskatchewan are already in the process of doing.

“In this province we want there to be a record regardless of where you are in the province,” Craig noted. “We want that record to be there for the people that need it.”

An EMR will provide that record for health-care workers to easily access a patient’s medical history. EMRs will also open up more space for other medical-related needs at the new Regional Hospital.

“If you went to our health records department and saw the number of records it's pretty mind-boggling. The amount of real estate that we are taking up is pretty incredible, and that's prime real estate.

“They will be scanning a lot of records – as much as possible,” Craig told the Times-Herald. “By legislation we are required to keep records for a certain period of time, so they need to go through and determine which records can be destroyed, and then destroyed appropriately. That's part of the work that's taking place right now.”

However, the most important work currently taking place is the construction of the new Regional Hospital.

Unfortunately, the original construction completion date – December 2014 – was pushed back three months, to March 2015.

“We said from the beginning our target was December 2014 and we gave ourselves a window of four to six months to move in. During those four to six months it's not like we had it planned out exactly what needed to happen there,” said Matthies. “Part of it was we were not sure all of what needed to happen there.

“The completion of the hospital has been moved by three months, but we don't know how that's going to affect our move in yet.”

Matthies noted reasons for the delay were the result of a combination of things, including weather, manpower and materials not arriving on time.

“There’s already got a contract in place for (companies) to provide goods, but we need to hold them accountable to deliver when they say they are going to deliver,” said Craig.

Even with the delay, Matthies noted the hospital is on a remarkable pace to complete construction of the new hospital.

“The thing about the three-month delay, even if in the end it does affect us by three months it's not like there will be an absence of service,” said Matthies. “We will still be running here and so from a public perspective, the only thing that will change when the new hospital opens is the location for services.”

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

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