A group of nurses in Saskatoon Health Region is turning a negative into a positive.

Sidelined from their regular nursing duties by injuries, these nurses are returning to work by putting their background and clinical expertise to good use on the Transitions of Care team as part of the Ready Every Day: 90 Days of Innovation work.

Larraine Oballes, Camille Bateman, Tania Esson, and Linda Nachtegaele,

These returning to work nurses are helping out the Transitions of Care team. From left: Larraine Oballes, Camille Bateman, Tania Esson, and Linda Nachtegaele,

“At first, we thought it was going to be kind of monotonous work because we had to go through charts and collect information and data,” says Linda Nachtegaele, a registered nurse in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. “But actually it’s kind of exciting to see everything these teams are doing and to be a part of it.”

Nachtegaele, along with Camille Bateman (RN), Tania Esson (RN) and Larraine Oballes (LPN) have a total of over 45 years of nursing experience between them. They have all experienced overcapacity situations on their units but looking at it from a wider organizational level has been eye opening.

“We’ve had lots of opportunities to observe and survey patients in regular and overcapacity spots and to talk to them and their families about their experience,” says Bateman. “We’ve reviewed lots of charts and kind of identified the process from when patients are admitted to when they are discharged and what goes into the charting work in different areas.” The group has also done some time observations, following different people in different areas around and seeing what they do on a daily basis. “It’s been very informative,” she says.

Tania Esson agrees. Esson normally works at Saskatoon City Hospital but her participation on Team Two gave her the opportunity to visit the lab at St. Paul’s Hospital to learn about their processes there. “Doing that walk through in the lab was very interesting for me, especially seeing their visual management boards and how they are set up,” she says. “They run a really tight ship in their lab.”

The learning curve has been steep, says Nachtegaele with the team learning how to use some of the Lean tools at their disposal. However, despite the curve, the group says that their perspective on Lean has shifted. “The general consensus out there is that Lean is a negative thing and something that we’re funneling a lot of money into it without a lot of reward,” says Nachtegaele. “Before, we kind of had this view of ‘oh they’re going to try this, this and this and here’s another piece of paperwork we have to fill out, but when you’re here working with the team, you realize that these things are important and that improvement is the reason and purpose for all of it.” Oballes says that using the lean tools and processes was a different experience than the one she expected. “Now I’m really excited to see the results of all this work.”

The group agrees that when they return to their normal job duties, they’ll be looking at their work in a slightly different way. “Before working with this team, I didn’t really know any of this was going on,” says Bateman. ”Now, hopefully we can help some of our team members understand what’s going on behind the scenes.”

When asked about their regular nursing jobs, all of them answered that caring for their patients and being able to make a difference was the best part of their job. Bateman feels like they are still doing that, just on the other side of things. “I feel like we’re making a difference,’ she says. “Hopefully there will be lots of positive changes and hopefully our work will help.”

Overall, Nachtegaele feels that this method of returning to work by participating on the team was a positive experience. “I think it turned out to be a really great opportunity despite the fact that we’re here because we’re hurt,” she laughs.  “It ended up being a good thing.” 

See more stories about Region improvements at www.saskatoonhealthregion.ca/ReadyEveryDay.