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All Spiffed Up and Safer, Too
White-glove inspections and extreme makeovers—and not just because the Joint Commission says so
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Lisa Katulis, second from right, leads Environmental Services/ Facilities rounds at the Children’s Center.

In a gleaming corridor on the second floor of the Children’s Center, Lisa Katulis stands with her regulars. Clipboard in tow, Katulis, assistant administrator of the Children’s Center, leads the way up the stairs. On the third-floor landing, she stops dead in her tracks.

“This has to be cleaned up,” she says, pointing to a pile of dirt and dust in front of the door.

Environmental Services manager Darling Somerville makes a note. P.J. Jacobs looks up from her dust mop. “Sure,” she says, flashing a big smile. “I’ll take care of it right away.”

Zone maintenance supervisor John Downes stops to inspect a worn corner molding, jotting down its location for a work order. Mary Taylor, assistant director of pediatric nursing, wants to know why a bed is sitting in the hall.

Welcome to EVS/Facilities rounds, white-glove inspections that take place in the Children’s Center each week. The group checks out public spaces and different units, including the pediatric intensive care unit and pre- and postop areas. They’re on the lookout for chipped paint, leaky faucets, stained ceiling tiles and dust above computer screens.

They confer with nurse managers, who often have their own punch list. Every four to six weeks, the group checks back to make sure work is completed. Already, the results are apparent. Even nuanced concerns like “sound dirt,” excessive noise that may slow healing, according to a recent study, have been addressed with sound panels to decrease noise in certain areas. Screeching metal carts soon will have quieter wheels.

The frequent inspections are critical, says Katulis. “We’re not just doing this for Joint Commission; we need to protect patients from dust and other irritants.” Equally important, she adds, is the need to maintain order, to take pride in presentation. “That includes everyone.”

A two-year stint as a flight attendant with Southwest Airlines brought that lesson home for Katulis. Between flights, she and her fellow attendants cleaned the aircraft, picking up trash and folding seatbelts. One day in the belly of a plane, a friendly, scruffy man cleaned up with her. It turned out to be Southwest’s CEO. Children’s Center Director George Dover likewise often picks up trash, Katulis says. “That sends the message that no one is exempt.

—Judy Minkove

Rehab Redo

Stacey Bittner in the transformed Inpatient Rehab storage area.

Stacey Bittner used to dread getting wheelchairs for her patients. It wasn’t that the occupational therapist minded the trip to the Halsted 3 storage area. It was, well, the storage area. Wheelchairs were scattered amid a hodgepodge of infusion pumps, commodes and other supplies.

No more. Inpatient rehab Nurse Manager Harriet Straus called the Center for Innovation’s Chip Davis, who assembled an “efficiency group” from Facilities and Environmental Services, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy, to share ideas.

Bob Kuhn, assistant director of facilities, suggested installing additional wall outlets to eliminate tangled IV cords. Environmental Services staff stripped and waxed the floor. More shelves were installed and each item assigned its own place.

“At last,” says Bittner, “the daily frustration is gone.”


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