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Hospital board to hear patient stories

Health Sciences North's board of directors passed a motion March 12 to listen to the story of a patient at the start of their monthly meetings.
Health Sciences North board members will soon start their meetings by listening to the experiences of one of the institution's patients. Supplied photo.
Health Sciences North's board of directors passed a motion March 12 to listen to the story of a patient at the start of their monthly meetings.

The purpose of the initiative, which will begin next month, is to “make a connection to a real event or person,” the board's chair elect, Mike McCann, told those at the board's March 12 meeting.

Health Sciences North board members discuss many different issues affecting patient care, but hearing the story of a real patient at each meeting will help tie these issues to an individual, he said.

Patients whose stories are shared will be first approached for their permission, said the hospital's senior vice-president, Joe Pilon.

It will also be up to the patient whether or not they want their name used or if they'd like their story shared in the open or closed portion of board meetings.

It won't be for the board to fix the problem described in the patient's story, but to set priorities and hold management accountable for system improvements, McCann said.

The idea to share patient stories at hospital board meetings came after senior managers heard a presentation from an American organization, the Institute for Health Improvement, at a conference, Pilon said.

Patient stories have been shared at various Health Sciences North committees since last year, but are now moving to the board of directors level.

Hospital board members and administrators often get caught up in “surveys and budgets and capital projects,” Pilon said. Patient stories “allow you to reflect on why you're here,” he said.

Not all the patient stories will be negative, he said. The Institute for Health Improvement suggested that one in four stories should be positive, Pilon said.

“But you need the negative ones to remember we can always improve,” he said.

The story of Maria Tiedke, also known as “Granny,” is already making a difference as to how patient care is being delivered at the hospital.

A year ago, Tiedke's granddaughter, Health Sciences North director of decision support Sandra Duhamel, followed her with a videocamera as she had a day of tests at the hospital.

The purpose of the video, which Pilon called the original patient story, was to teach hospital staff what it means to provide patient-centred care.

Granny spent four-and-a-half hours at the hospital, had to register in multiple offices and backtracked several times. The video said her tests could have taken one-and-a-half hours if processes were more streamlined.

After holding brainstorming sessions with staff and observing processes, hospital staff identified registration as an area that should be improved.

They said the problem is there's a lack of a standard registration process across all areas of Health Sciences North, which can cause errors and variations in patient experience.

There are 29 departments that carry out registration across multiple sites, and more than half a million outpatient registrations were done in the last fiscal year.

Pilot projects have been initiated to improve hospital registration issues, and will continue through the spring.

To view the “Granny” video, visit

Heidi Ulrichsen

About the Author: Heidi Ulrichsen

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