Staff idea gets instant approval

Two Dunedin Hospital operating theatre staff were pleasantly surprised yesterday when their pet project was approved on the spot after it was pitched to a Southern District Health Board judging panel.

Tania Kennedy and Nancy Sweeney were taking part in a competition modelled on the Dragons' Den television show, designed to involve staff in the improvment of health services.

Their project is one of 27 from Dunedin and Invercargill staff.

Chief executive Carole Heatly is leading the judging panel, and a few of the ideas she has considered essential and approved on the spot.

A contestable fund of $25,000 is available. However, ideas Ms Heatly approved without input from the other judges were to be funded separately.

A portion of the fund - $5000 - was provided by Westpac, which is represented on the panel.

Mrs Sweeney, a registered nurse, joked yesterday the judges were less strict than those on the television show from which the concept was drawn.

Mrs Sweeney and Ms Kennedy, an anaesthetic technician, sought nearly $2000 for video equipment to film educational presentations for staff who could not attend the sessions.

That some were missing out on the sessions had affected staff morale, Mrs Sweeney said.

Ms Heatly told the women the project was exactly the sort of thing she wanted to see. The filmed sessions would be put on the board's internal internet, and could be accessed by all DHB staff.

Next up yesterday was Dunedin Hospital cardiac physiologist Emma Guglietta, who said her idea to standardise defibrillator pads across departments would cost more up front, but would save money in the long term.

Defibrillator pads used on patients in the emergency department and some other areas had to be switched to a different type if the person required a procedure such as CT.

Mrs Guglietta said using only the more expensive type of radiotransparent pad would meant using fewer overall. It was safer for the patient, as staff were anxious about the patient's status during the changeover, when monitoring was interrupted.

It also spared the patient the considerable discomfort of removing them.

Ms Heatly said Mrs Guglietta's idea was a "no-brainer". However, she requested more detailed costings, and a check on the move afoot at a national level to standardise product-buying across all boards.

Most staff will be advised next month as to whether they were successful.

Other ideas include buying an electric bed for patients weighing more than 100kg, a shearing shed health project, and an initiative to make Lakes District Hospital more environmentally friendly.

The panel has finished its work in Dunedin, and will convene at Southland Hospital on Friday to consider the Invercargill projects.

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