Over the last two years, Garrett Regional Medical Center has adopted Lean Six Sigma as the hospital’s performance improvement model.  Department leaders at GRMC have been participating in a Lean Six Sigma performance improvement education program through the Juran Institute, where all department leaders are now required to achieve the first level certification, which is a yellow belt.  However, three employees, Dale Hair, RN, Amanda Simmons, RN, and Angela Maule have recently completed the next level of certification, which is the achievement of a Green Belt. 

What this essentially means is that these three directors at the hospital are now certified to lead performance improvement projects.  “Lean Six Sigma is a performance improvement program that assures that the hospital is making data driven decisions in a scientific and evidence based way.  The discipline of Lean Six Sigma focuses on solving problems through a series of five steps to identify the root causes of the process failures and to put controls in place to improve the processes,” explained Boucot.  These five steps are identified as the DMAIC system; the process is defined, measured, analyzed, improved and then tracked for control.

The Define phase allows leaders in the organization to identify the process and break it down to identify potential resources within the organization. In the Measure phase leaders collect data on how the process currently performs. The Analyze phase allows leaders to identify the root cause of the problem and gather more information if needed.  The Improve phase allows leaders to put steps in place to improve the process and then to test those new processes to assure the effectiveness. The Control phase is the last step where the new process is monitored for continued improvement over time and placed into full implementation.

“All department leaders at Garrett Regional Medical Center completed their yellow belt certification in the Lean Six Sigma process which is the first step of the program. The department leaders were then given the opportunity to pursue their Green Belt in Lean Six Sigma, which is the second level. This level allows those to lead projects within the organization,” said Boucot.  There are a total of eight department leaders who are pursuing their Green Belt certification. The first group, Dale Hair, Amanda Simmons and Angela Maule completed their Green Belt certification for their project on improving clinical documentation. These leaders are pictured above. They had to present their project and storyboard to the President and CEO of the Juran Institute, Joseph DeFeo, and pass an oral exam for this certification. The other department leaders are working on projects to improve operating room efficiency and coordination of care at discharge to prevent re-hospitalization.

“This level of dedication to process improvement further demonstrates the quality of care Garrett Regional Medical Center is committed to providing to the residents we serve. We are very proud of our entire staff as well as these leaders who are pursuing this advanced training,” said Boucot.

Quality Data scores released by the Maryland Hospital Association show that Garrett Regional Medical Center continues to have the lowest readmission rate in the state, and the third best performance for reducing hospital acquired conditions.  “Despite an approximate 12% in growth in patient volumes over the last year, the state quality scores for Garrett Regional Medical Center improved and we reduced readmission to the lowest level ever achieved by any hospital in the state, with a readmission rate of 5.9% by the end of June 2016,” said Boucot as he went on to explain that GRMC also has excellent results on Potentially Preventable Complications (PPC’s) and an extremely low surgical site infection rate of 0.24% compared to a national average of 1.9%.

Donna Crawford, Director of Performance Improvement leads the hospital’s Performance Improvement program along with Reba Rush, Director of Quality Assurance and Risk Management.  “The hospital has been on a journey of increased education and learning, and is striving toward being a more data driven organization,” said Donna Crawford.  “When I took on the leadership role for Performance Improvement, it was a whole new process improvement model and if felt like there was so much to learn.  Now after working in this program for the last eighteen months, I strongly believe that this program gives leaders the tools they need to make positive changes in organizational processes based on real data and not just anecdotal stories.  It’s an evidence based model and I feel really proud of the success that the organization is having with Lean Six Sigma.”


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