Karen spent four days recovering at Saskatoon City Hospital’s Surgery 3100 after surgery this spring. She was so impressed by her care experience that she not only left a note for the Happy Gang – as she calls them – to thank the nurses who cared for her, she also took time to send a letter to Carol Melymick, Manager of Nursing for Surgery Services in the Region.


SCH Surgery 3100 nurse Jasmine Graham with the Releasing Time to Care Team Board.

“It takes considerable initiative and effort to create change, and the improvements apparent on 3100 made for a refreshing experience,” says Karen, who asked that her real name not be used.

Surgery 3100 has been implementing the Releasing Time to Care™ program since September 2010. In the note to Melymick, Karen described how nurses consistently introduced themselves at the start of each shift and wrote their names on the white board across from her bed. Although it may seem like a small thing, she says, when you are not feeling well or are tired, it is easy to forget names and that gesture immediately established rapport for the next 12 hours.

Melymick says the staff on 3100 take pride in the work they have done and are grateful that others notice it. “I believe we are receiving more cards and letters from patients since starting Releasing Time to Care,” says Melymick. “This may be because patients are more engaged in their care and they are learning about the program from the RTC bulletin board on the ward.”
When able to move around and take walks in the halls, Karen was struck by the neatness and organization of the nursing station and supply rooms. The nourishment centre was always clean and well-labeled for patients and families. That sense of order was reassuring to her. She says it created a sense of tranquility and confidence that things on the ward were “under control.” Improvements like this can be contagious, she believes, in the same way that one homeowner can can raise the bar for other neighbors on a block by creating a beautiful yard.

She knows from her experience working in the Health Region that not all wards function like 3100. That experience also tells her that it is hard to affect change on the front lines of care and yet she could see the collaborative, consultative nature of the RTC program first hand and the positive effect it is having on staff. They seemed happy, she says, and could be heard discussing ideas for further improvements during quiet times on the ward.

Courtesy of the Saskatchewan Health Quality Council.