Communication, Commitment, Consensus
Partnership basics cement co-leads’ bond
Su-Xian Hu and Runeet Bhasin make partnership look easy. The telemetry team co-leads at Downey Medical Center in Southern California share a relaxed rapport that belies the time, planning and occasional friction that are part of running a busy inpatient unit.
Together for more than a year, the pair attribute the success of their budding relationship to communication and a commitment to partnership principles—especially consensus decision making. Those core values came in handy recently when a disagreement arose about the best way to educate patients about medications.
Nurses preferred a less overwhelming one-page sheet, but managers wanted to switch to a detailed three-page form that had been adopted by other units in the hospital.
“It was a major issue,” says Bhasin, RN, a staff nurse and member of UNAC/UHCP who is the team’s labor co-lead. “We had to come up with a solution to fulfill management’s needs and labor’s needs.”
At the time of the disagreement, UBT members turned to consensus decision making to determine next steps they all could support. A subsequent test of change resulted in a short-term fix: Nurses used the short form with patients, while the longer handout was provided as a resource guide in patient rooms.
New to partnership
Managing in partnership was a new experience for Hu when she joined the team in April 2016 as assistant clinical director and became a co-lead. She previously had overseen a Kaiser Permanente inpatient nursing unit that was not part of the Labor Management Partnership. Bhasin, a co-lead with two years of experience, served as mentor and coach.
“Runeet was wonderful with helping to bring me onboard,” says Hu, who is also an RN.
Both say LMP training has given them a shared understanding of their roles as co-leads, the purpose of UBTs and how to use consensus decision making. A business literacy class both took proved especially fruitful: With the information they brought back, the team tackled an affordability project that reduced overtime costs by more than $95,000 last year.
“The UBT classes,” says Bhasin, “made me realize the real meaning of partnership, the collaboration of labor and management to work toward the same goal to provide high-quality care and to have a great work environment.”
The pair’s approach seems to be working. Their 75-member UBT is at Level 4 on the five-part Path to Performance, and it has earned accolades for outstanding patient care and gains in workplace safety and affordability.
“We want what is best for patients and for staff,” says Hu. “We might have differences, but we always come together with open and professional communication, sitting down together to solve those issues.”