Team-Tested Practices

Wasted Linens Are an Unnecessary Expense

Team cuts annual costs by almost 7 percent

For a nurse on a hospital ward, it might seem quick and easy to grab the nearest sheet to mop up a spill or grab a huge stack of blankets to put in a patient’s room.

But for the Materials Management department at Panorama City Medical Center, that can be really wasteful.

And they should know. They’re the team responsible for purchasing and cleaning linens, and keeping patients comfortable.

With savings in mind, the materials UBT looked to educate other hospital staff about the true costs of buying and washing linens.

Managers and union members worked together to create a storyboard featuring photos of bed sheets used as a tablecloth at a barbeque, and price lists of supplies and laundering charges. And because the team piloted its effort in Maternal Child Health departments, it also included pictures of babies.

As the materials staff worked with the other teams, the storyboard was a big confidence booster to those who were not public speakers.

“At first I was really nervous,” says Sandra Hernandez, the team’s labor co-lead. “But then I saw people I knew in the room and that put me at ease.”

The team also reviewed linen usage and stocking levels with departments.

And their efforts paid off as they reduced the overall annual cost of linen in the Maternal Child Health department by 6.8 percent, more than three times the original goal.

They also were able to increase customer satisfaction scores in a year from 48 to 65 percent from internal clients such as inpatient units at the hospital,.

“It is important to be prepared with the data,” says management co-lead Steve Spickler. “But, you need to tell a story in addition to the charts. That’s how the UBTs make the connection between their contribution and the financial success of the organization.”

For more about this team's work to share with your team and spark performance improvement ideas, download a poster or powerpoint.
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