Advance for Nurses
Vol. 4 •Issue 11 • Page 12
Best Nursing Team 2007 Finalist
Nurse Leadership Team
Barton Memorial Hospital, South Lake Tahoe
For Barton Memorial Hospital CNO Mary Bittner, MPA, BSN, RN, team training has led to a synergy that breathed a renewed enthusiasm into her leadership team, and through them, into the entire Barton nursing staff.
In spring 2006, Bittner and her top leaders began working together using Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as a guide and educational tool. As training progressed, Bittner noted the team (med/surg and ortho manager Susan Fairley RN; ICU, staffing and nursing supervisors manager Jane Morgan, MBA, BS, RN; surgical services manager Shelly Stalter, BSN, RN; ED manager Toni Willen, BS, RN, CEN; skilled nursing facility director Melinda Brogna, RN, CDONA; and perinatal services director Peggy Bryant, BSN, RN,C) became energized, grew to understand each other, found ways to resolve situations across services so each came out winners and strengthened nursing within the entire Barton system as a result.
"Working together cooperatively does take more time, but it produces much better long-term results," Bittner observed. "The essence of synergy is to value differences, and respect them, to build upon our strengths and compensate for our weaknesses. We have created a synergistic team that became inspired by the leadership education and are now inspiring others."
Those others include bedside nurses whose patient care outcomes continue to be stellar. Bittner noted that patient testimonials are very positive, while Morgan shared patient satisfaction scores have improved as nursing focuses more closely on patient care and customer service. Two California-wide initiatives, CHART and the California Nursing Outcomes Coalition (CalNOC), have played a large part in providing empirical, evidence-based data to the team, who then relays it to nursing staff.
"Participation in CalNOC has provided data to the team, which led to improved outcomes in the areas of wound and fall prevention," Bittner said. "In other areas, the nurse leadership team has partnered with all clinical leaders at the hospital to successfully implement a shared governance model to promote professional practice."
Clinical leaders have created patient safety initiatives such as ventilator- acquired pneumonia protocols and a rapid response team. There also is clinical leadership growth with emphasis on staff development, education and use of evidence-based practices to improve care.
"This is a remarkable team accomplishment for a small, rural 71-bed facility," Bittner said. "Our team has inspired clinical leadership within Barton to raise the bar for patient care practitioners, to promote accountability, follow-through and successful partnership for delivery of patient care. We strive to lead by example promoting consistently exceptional care."
New programs have impacted patient care. A partnership with the Barton Education Department has led to a renewal of the Barton new grad program. Based on the "novice to expert" plan, the 6-month orientation program helps transition new nurses from novice to intermediate and allows them to work in challenging service areas including obstetrics, the ED and ICU.
"If you ask the team members what contributes most to their success, they will tell you it is their knowledge, teamwork and adaptability," Bittner explained. "Add to the mix their different levels of experience, interests and skills. You end up with a group that can have honest, open discussions, experience creative growth and flexibility and offer strong support to each other."
The emphasis on teamwork and collaboration between the nurse leadership team and other clinical disciplines has helped develop an environment where departments work together to create policies, improve patient care and build strong interdepartmental relationships.
"The support within the team demonstrates to the staff and other colleagues a sense of consistency, communication and their commitment to excellence," Bittner said. "This consistency in leadership and teamwork allows our entire nursing staff to focus on patient care, secure in knowing they work in an environment where they are strongly supported and highly valued."