With the support of leadership and frontline staff, Trish Beck, RN, MS, CNN, nurse manager of the nephrology care unit and dialysis, created a supply savings program at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. A year later, the hospital reaped the benefits of the cost-saving measures; in 2010, the hospital had a 20% decrease in supplies needed per patient day.
“Wherever we have the opportunity to reduce unnecessary expenses on a day-to-day basis, whether it be with patient care items or other supplies, we take action, because we know that we are contributing to the overall expense reduction,” said Margaret Cusumano, RN, MSN, FACHE, CNO.
Ideas translate to actionInitiating the supply savings program at Vassar are, from left, Trish Beck, RN, nurse manager, nephrology care unit and dialysis; Carolyn Clark, RN, assistant vice president, patient care services; Sheri Ross, RN, staff nurse, infusion center; and Margaret Cusumano, RN, CNO.
The program quickly turned into a organizationwide effort, with Beck and a supply savings champion committee leading the initiative. “There was tremendous energy and interest, and we enlisted the support of other departments, such as materials handling and purchasing,” Beck said.
After approval from leadership, cost-savings measures were instituted, which include ordering Accucheck strips and controls only as needed, storing batteries in a locked room, and removing medipore tape from all units, with the exception of two surgical areas. Admission kits contain the minimal amount of patient care supplies, and items are added as patients need or request them.
“Because all unused items in a patient room must be discarded after patient discharge, we are more aware of bringing in what we need, rather than excess,” Beck said. Assessment of supplies is completed during the patient care tech rounding report, and a specific wash soap has been removed from supply carts and replaced with a more cost-efficient product.
To set the ideas into motion, supply savings champions met with nurses, patient care techs and unit secretaries to find out where they saw waste.
“They had no problem identifying ways to eliminate waste, and once we gave them the knowledge about the cost of specific items, everyone wanted to participate,” said Carolyn Clark, RN, MS, assistant vice president of patient care services.
To prove the point, Ronald Parkinson, RN, a neurology staff nurse and member of the savings supply committee, started a tape bucket, collecting all unfinished rolls of tape left in patient rooms, to raise awareness.
“In all my years of nursing, I have never seen a roll of tape used to the cardboard,” he said.
Beck holds monthly champion meetings, and champions share their knowledge and lead by example on their units. “In our monthly newsletter we describe the ideas initiated by the committee, and we showcase a champion of the month,” Beck said.
With increased awareness and accountability, everyone continues to look at ways to participate in the program. “It seems as though every month we come up with another idea,” Clark said. “It’s really about finding the right product for the right job.”