With COVID-19, we are all at risk of infection and this crisis has shined a spotlight on the importance of treating each other with empathy, understanding and compassion as we figure out new ways of managing our responsibilities at home and work.
Past lessons on Just Culture combined with current COVID-19 lessons of empathy are helping to improve the work culture at Martin Luther King, Jr. Outpatient Center (MLK OPC). One of the goals of Just Culture is to achieve a work environment that is consistently safe. To create a consistently safe environment, employees must report errors, near misses or unintended outcomes that happen as a part of normal everyday work. For employees to report openly, trust must be achieved. There must be trust that there will be no retaliation for reporting issues. There must be trust that they will be treated fairly when errors occur and finally, there must betrust that the information reported will be used to help improve systems.
MLK OPC is constantly modifying workflows and processes to improve safety for all. The leadership team implemented a new communication strategy leading to real time support and improvements. On a daily basis, a facility administrator of the day (FAD) and a manager of the day (MOD) are responsible for conducting rounds to ensure physical distancing is observed. They monitor patient flow in and out of the facility to avoid overcrowding and provide real time assistance to patients and staff. This bidirectional communication with real time support and assistance is improving trust, making it easy for staff to report issues and allowing for effective continuous improvement.
A Just Culture is not about pointing fingers and laying blame when something goes wrong, it is about learning from unintended outcomes and collaborating with those involved to improve and/or fix systems. Continuing to strengthen trust and practicing Just Culture principles will help us reach the Health Services goal of providing a consistent safe environment for the workforce and the patients we serve.