It looked like a typical afternoon on a nursing unit: A patient recently out of surgery was complaining of nausea, so Physician Assistant John Roney did a quick exam, then explained that anesthesia can sometimes be the cause. Dannielle Stone, RN, gave the patient anti-nausea medication, and she and Leslie Tanyu, RN, explained to the patient and his wife how it would work.
It didn't matter to staff that the patient was made of plastic, his wife was actually Stephanie Sudikoff, MD, YNHHS Simulation Center director, and the newly renovated unit they were on hadn't yet opened to patients.
The staff members were part of an orientation/simulation designed to prepare them for the Feb. 24 arrival of patients on the new Musculoskeletal Center Unit on the Saint Raphael Campus. More than 50 employees participated — those from the Musculoskeletal Unit and staff from other nursing units and departments, including Food and Nutrition, Environmental Services and Patient Transport.
"This has been great," said Don Maselli, RN, Musculoskeletal Unit. "It allowed us to see both the positives and the challenges of the new floor and experience the workflow. I couldn't imagine coming in on day one and providing patient care without this kind of preparation."
The completely rebuilt unit on Verdi 4 North is the hospital's first step in building a comprehensive Musculoskeletal Center on the SRC that will bring together specialists in orthopedics, neurosurgery, neurology, rheumatology, rehabilitation and many other areas.
Leaders from YNHH and Yale School of Medicine, which are partnering to develop the center, outlined plans during a Town Hall Meeting on the SRC a week earlier.
Richard D'Aquila, president and COO, said the new center will be a national leader. He compared it to Smilow Cancer Hospital in size, scope and vision, but noted that musculoskeletal issues affect at least four times more people than cancer.
"This is a huge opportunity to deliver patient- and family-centered care better, more efficiently and in a much more collaborative and comprehensive manner," he told a packed auditorium. Dean Robert Alpern, Yale School of Medicine, said musculoskeletal care is the next challenge in medicine.
"We're getting better and better at treating conditions like heart disease, cancer and stroke," he said. "This is our next challenge: To improve the quality of life for the people we're keeping alive."
Since the new unit on Verdi 4 North is the first piece of the Musculoskeletal Center project, musculoskeletal services leaders worked with Patient Experience and the Simulation Center to develop, organize and execute an extensive orientation/simulation that involved hands-on learning. Staff with the Simulation Center recorded portions of the event using Google Glass — a camera mounted on eyeglasses — so video can be shared as part of ongoing orientation.
The February orientation, billed as "a day in the life of the Musculoskeletal Center patient," focused on clinical care and other patient services, but also emphasized improving the patient experience. Volunteers posing as patients and family members acted out their medical conditions and other, non-medical challenges staff might face, including patients and family members who are confused, don't speak English or those who become agitated.
"We created situations that require effective communication and service excellence techniques," said Judy Catalano, RN, manager of Patient Experience on the SRC. "These are examples of real-life situations in which staff will need to intervene to ensure we're providing a healing environment."
Staff on the new unit — who came from other SRC units and the orthopedic unit on the York Street campus — said the orientation/simulation familiarized them with their new work environment and gave them the opportunity to get to know one another and work together.
"We're merging the Saint Raphael and York Street cultures," Stone said. "We might have come in with different ways of doing things, but we're taking the best of both cultures and building a new team."
The orientation/simulation "helped us put plans into action," added James Williams, PCA, Musculoskeletal Unit. "When the patients are here, everything will be seamless."