Accreditation Canada surveyors spent September 29 to October 4, 2013 visiting programs and services across Saskatoon Health Region – a process that occurs every three years to assess and improve health care delivery across the country. Their week ended with a presentation of their findings to employees, managers and senior leaders at the Saskatoon City Hospital auditorium. While the final report won’t be in for another 15 days or so, their feedback was positive.

Victoria Kaminski addresses the crowd at the Accreditation debrief on Friday October 4, 2013.

Victoria Kaminski addresses the crowd at the Accreditation debrief on Friday October 4, 2013.

“This organization met 96.4 per cent of the criteria set before you,” said Victoria Kaminski, Team Leader with Accreditation Canada. “You should be celebrating, but you shouldn’t be relaxing.”

Kaminski praised the organization’s “phenomenal” approach to lean, specifically the use of patient and family advisors as well as the organizational alignment with the “four betters” – better health, better care, better value, better teams. “The country is talking about what’s happening with lean in Saskatchewan,” she said. “We are really impressed with what you are doing.”

The Accreditation Canada team visited the Region during an interesting and somewhat chaotic time. “We knew going into our accreditation week that we had significant issues going on within the Region such as overcapacity and infrastructure issues,” says Victoria Schmid, director of Client Family Experience and Safety. “We also knew that the surveyors needed to see us as we are. They needed to evaluate our processes and care delivery just as they would normally happen.” Despite the difficulties, Schmid explains that the surveyors had a chance to see the Region’s staff do their best to manage the system challenges and still show that they are 100 per cent committed to safety. “We truly have such amazing people working in our Region.”

Watch the Accreditation debrief in this YouTube video.

The majority of the feedback was overwhelmingly positive – the surveyors lauded the Region’s approach to ethics and stated how impressed they were that both leaders and staff alike were committed to the organization’s values. However, the surveyors did also identify some areas that need improvement such as the Region’s infrastructure and the need for tools for the Information Technology team to help move the Region forward. They noted that the Region has made progress on developing a culture of safety but that there are many more opportunities to improve safety of patients, clients and residents, particularly related to medication practices, infection control, sterile processing and several other required safety practices.The surveyors also identified a divide between urban and rural sites and recommended that the Region continues to work on rural and urban integration.

Visit and search for "2013" to see a full list of leading practice recognition projects.

Visit and search for “2013” to see a full list of leading practice recognition projects.

These areas for improvement did not surprise Saskatoon Health Region President and CEO Maura Davies. “Of note in the surveyor report is the focus on infrastructure,” says Davies. “This is our world and we know this problem is not unique but this will send a strong message to government and to the public about how our infrastructure is compromising our ability to provide a safe care environment.” On the topic of rural integration Davies acknowledges that the Region needs to do a better job to address the gap between urban and rural. “We take this report very seriously.”

Once the official accreditation decision is issued, the Region has the next five months to submit evidence of actions taken and plans to address any gaps. Schmid is well aware of the work that still needs to be done. “I feel that one of the strengths of our preparation for this accreditation survey was that we had a good understanding of what areas will still need concentrated work in the coming year,” she says.

Praising everyone for their hard work, Davies says she welcomed the entire survey experience. “What warms my heart are the references to our culture and that our colleagues saw us living our values at all levels of the organization,” says Davies. “I’m so proud of the people in this organization and proud to be a part of it.”

See also Accreditation 2013 impresses.