Administration and staff recently celebrated the success of the shared governance model at Newton (N.J.) Medical Center, now a partner of Atlantic Health System. With about 75 nurses in attendance, Elise Demalderis, RN, ICU/CCU staff nurse, and chairwoman of the steering committee, presented the five councils’ recent accomplishments, and the 17 members of the steering committee and staff were recognized for their contributions to the shared governance process.
“Through networking and many hours of council work, nurses at Newton have worked together in developing shared governance in less than a year, which has brought important issues to the forefront and helped to heal past conflicts,” said Jude Capparelli, RN, CCRN, cath lab charge nurse.
When Ardelle Bigos, RN, MSN, CMSRN, was promoted to CNO about one year ago, she proposed the shared governance model as a way to provide nurses with decision-making power in patient care and autonomy in nursing practice. “Having been director of acute care operations for three years at Newton, I knew what nurses were feeling and saying and what they had been going through,” Bigos said. As director, Bigos was in charge of wound care and infection control in addition to the ICU and all med/surg units.
About three to five years ago, Newton nurses felt they had little or no support with patient care and staffing issues and problems. “Nurses voted in the union hoping that we could open lines of communication with administration and create a better place for our patients and for us,” said Laurel Gerardi, RN, BSN, CCRN, staff nurse for minor procedures.
But when the union was voted out a year later, staff nurses were concerned and some left the facility. “The sentiment was definitely one of frustration because those who were removed from patient care were the ones making patient care and workflow decisions for us,” said JoEllen Barrett, RN, CCM, case manager.
Under the leadership of Bigos, a shared governance steering committee was formed last spring, and nursing staff was invited to join the shared governance councils, which included the restructured Practice and Standards and the new Professional Development and Education, Quality and Performance Improvement and Patient Care Management councils.
With 13 to 15 members on each council, representing both staff and administration, its members have developed bylaws and meet for eight hours each month to work on specific established activities. The councils have made progress in their respective committees, which include reviewing ways to reduce patient falls and the “zone of silence” practice for those administering medications; developing a PACT RN recognition program; incorporating a clinical day on the units for new orientees; and analyzing the orientation duration policy and scheduling guidelines for staffing needs, just to name a few.
Before coming to the facility, Bonnie Schreiber, RN, MSN, nursing coordinator, medical surgical/telemetry, had participated in a shared governance model at another institution. “So I knew that nurses at Newton, under the model, would have more say in patient care, use evidence-based practice and take pride and ownership in the care they deliver,” Schreiber said.
Bigos formed a nursing summit, where, as chairwoman, she meets with council leaders to discuss their activities and accomplishments and share challenges and concerns. “This open forum gives everyone a chance to discuss strategies for advancement and support one another, which is what the shared governance model is all about,” Bigos said.