When employees at UMMC Grenada have a good idea - or a bad argument - they take it to The Viper Room.
It's not a den of snakes or a club for drinks and dinner. Instead, Transforming Health care Environment Value-driven Improvements Process Excellent Results (THE VIPER) Room is a safe zone for employees to come up with solutions to issues at work that impact patient care and employee relations, said Don Hutson, CEO of UMMC Grenada and UMMC Holmes County.
They fall under one of four categories: patient safety and quality, patient experience, employee engagement and finance, he said. “If any of these areas are lacking, we won't be successful,” he said.
The way it works: A board has been formed for each category, and each has a team led by an administrator. Employees of UMMC Grenada and UMMC Holmes County are represented. Team members have at their disposal computers with Internet access, paper flip boards with markers, a telephone, sticky notes for the walls - lots of tools to help them brainstorm on the idea or problem at hand.
James Caldwell, chief nursing and clinical services officer for the Grenada and Holmes County campuses, came up with the room's name. “I went home on a Sunday afternoon - it was raining - and thought about what the words should be,” he said.
“You walk in and you walk out with a solution,” Caldwell said.
“The whole purpose is to give a neutral space where interdisciplinary teams can get together and find solutions to problems,” he said.
The Viper Room at UMMC Grenada is a safe zone where employees can brainstorm and put their best ideas forward.
That can include conflict between employees that can potentially harm the patient experience, he said. Recently, several employees in the emergency department and in the Grenada hospital's obstetrics department disagreed on who would care for a pregnant woman having emergency complications. After several iCare reports were filed about the conflict, about a week later, Caldwell sent the staff involved to The Viper Room.
“I told them, 'Don't come out until you have an agreement,'” Caldwell said. “It took them about an hour and 20 minutes. It's a get-along room. Figure it out. Come up with a solution.”
Other problems hashed out in The Viper Room center around good ideas to make processes more streamlined so there won't be conflict or confusion in the future, Caldwell said. “A nurse manager might see something and say, 'We can do that better. Who can we get into The Viper Room to fix it?”
When Grenada hospital leaders meet every morning in their quality huddle, Caldwell said it's another opportunity to share issues or ideas that can be taken on by one of the teams. “We want to make sure we are driving for measurable results,” he said.
Hutson explains the concept of quality and safety being a key area for problem-solving in The Viper Room.
Claudette Hathcock serves as the senior leader for the employment engagement team modeled after a similar team in the Medical Center's 100-day workout initiative. They're brainstorming how employees can have more ownership over their work and pride in what they do for patients.
“We want employees to know what they say matters,” said Hathcock, director of marketing and physician outreach for the two hospitals. “We've gotten buttons that say 'Be the Difference,' and we've given them to employees. We want to be the difference and the change. I've also ordered buttons that say, 'We are the Difference.'”
Employees have been using The Viper Room for about four months, Hutson said. “The best solutions come from front-line staff,” he said.
The room will only get more use as its concept spreads, Caldwell believes. “This will drive solutions,” he said.