Walking into the recovery room at Royal University Hospital early this afternoon, a quiet calm greets you. Registered nurses Lynn Rideout and Brenda Kroeger, who coincidentally trained together over 30 years ago, stand in near disbelief and will tell you, this is not the norm.

Recovery room of RUH

Royal University Hospital – Recovery Room, 2:00 pm February 5, 2015

“Normally, we are packed to the brim and overflowing. The OR is waiting to come out. We don’t have space for them. We have people waiting to go to the ward who don’t have anywhere to go,” explains Rideout. “Right now, we have one waiting for a bed, but the bed is just being cleaned so it won’t be too much longer.”

The pair says that the stay in recovery is an average 45 minutes depending how long patients take to emerge from anesthetic and how much pain management they need. Then, the patient goes to the ward.

Often, patients have had to wait much longer, if not overnight. Recently, half of recovery was even being used as a ward with patients being cared for by ward nurses.

“Since Monday, you know you walk in and there is not a pod. We have beds to use for the post-op patient so we can give care without them being subjected to chaos, and they didn’t have to sit here all day. They got a bed in a timely manner,” says Rideout.

“Beds have been assigned more quickly and people have been sent up to the wards faster, so it has relieved a lot of the congestion and back up,” adds Kroeger.

Neither can pinpoint what might have made this difference. They notice there are fewer  people in the hallways and that gives them hope. Skeptics might argue it’s a blip, due to a bank day, or even a direct result of a handful of surgeries postponed this week.

“We will see what happens. But this week has been good because we have had flow,” says Kroeger. “People come. People go in a more efficient manner. And it makes the unit so much quieter and calmer and you are not stressing staff trying to manage more patients than normal.”

The two point out that, even more importantly, this calm environment is what patients need.

And they see opportunity for improvements and have ideas. They wonder if there are better ways to balance the pull of those waiting at home for surgery and those who are already in hospital, in a bed, needing surgery. Some of this is also tied to how we are planning and sharing information about discharges from hospital. That has a big effect in what is happening with the flow of patients from surgery up to the unit.

“When you start a surgical slate in the morning, and you have nine or ten people in the operating room without a bed assigned to them because there aren’t any beds availableyou know they are going to come through, and you wonder ‘where are they going to go?’,” says Rideout.

But no matter what the cause for the reprieve, these nurses feel hopeful.

“I am just really grateful to hear them recognize there is an issue and that it is being looked at.”

For more stories and information about the Better Every Day 14 Day Challenge, visit www.saskatoonhealthregion.ca/news.