Improving care, one patient at a time

When a patient saw a burdensome step in his twice-a-week hospital visits, he teamed with an advocate to make a time-saving change.

James Breault is no stranger to receiving IV infusions.

For the last five years, the Canadian Lakes, Michigan, resident has received infusions twice a week, traveling an hour to Grand Rapids each time.

That all changed when his friend, Tom Cook, convinced him to start receiving his treatments at Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital’s infusion clinic.

“At the time, I would have to travel back and forth to Grand Rapids, spending two to three hours in treatment at a time,” Breault said.

Taking Cook’s advice, Breault had his infusion care transferred to Big Rapids Hospital in October 2016. Within the first few weeks, he discovered something about the process that added more time to his visit—having to stop at the registration desk for every appointment.

“When I would go for treatment in Grand Rapids, I only had to register before my first treatment,” Breault said. “After that, I would arrive at the hospital and immediately go to the infusion clinic to receive my treatment.”

Lucky for Breault, Cook happened to be a member of Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals’ Patient and Family Advisory Council. As such, Cook often offered ideas to hospital leadership to improve the patient experience.

After discovering what the process had been like for Breault, Cook knew there needed to be a change.

“It didn’t make sense to me,” Cook said. “We have standing orders for people that need continuous lab draws. Why couldn’t we do the same thing for infusion?”

Twice a week, Breault’s routine included entering the hospital at the main entrance and checking in at the registration desk. He would then walk through the hospital to the opposite side of the building to arrive at the infusion clinic. This created a long journey for him, twice a week, every week.

Breault and Cook had a better idea.

If a standing order were created for infusion appointments, Breault could enter the hospital through a closer entrance and take the elevator up one floor directly to the infusion clinic. Not only would this save him time, it would free up registration staff to help other patients.

The next day, staff asked Breault to test the new program—one that would allow him to come directly to infusion, instead of registration every time.

“I like it a lot better,” Breault said. “It’s a great improvement over the old process and makes things a lot easier for me.”

The new process also improves the efficiency of the infusion clinic.

The clinic, open Monday through Friday and on Saturdays as needed, has doubled in visits since opening less than a year ago. It’s staffed by Ann Grams, RN, and Shelly Traynor, HCT.

“Ann is a great nurse,” Breault said. “She is always smiling, makes me feel comfortable and loves to poke me (to start the IV).”

Thanks to patients like Breault and Patient and Family Advisory Council members like Cook, Big Rapids Hospital is able to make improvements that are truly patient-centered.

If you have a suggestion for improvement or you’re interested in joining the Patient and Family Advisory Council at Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital and Spectrum Health Reed City Hospital, call 231.592.4305.

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