Same-Day Surgery Manager

Boost your staff’s morale with these ideas

By Stephen W. Earnhart, MS
Earnhart & Associates
Austin, TX

Always eager to please, I have some ideas that might perk up your staff’s morale.

Why do most of us not have maids that come in and clean our home? Too expensive, most of us would say. Others may say it is not necessary, but generally we would rather do it ourselves and save that money for other occasions, right?

I fly a lot and usually use Southwest Airlines. Being a frequent traveler, I observe things while in the air. The flight attendants make countless trips up and down the aisles collecting trash. Then, while people like me are getting off the plane, they go through the plane as if they are possessed, straightening the magazines, putting away pillows, folding blankets, and doing a dozen other similar tasks.

It impressed me that these staff members didn’t cry out that "turning over the plane" (clue: turning over the operating room) was offensive to them. Or that it was below them. The fact was (after interviewing a number of them) that it was part of their job: To assist their employer do a better job of being on time.

Further, they added (and tying all of this together for you) that the airline saves money on a cleaning crew and the associates’ hassle of dealing with incomplete or spotty cleaning and customer complaints. "You know, it is just easier to do it ourselves" is the common reply I got back. I found out that the savings for Southwest is in the millions of dollars per year — all of which goes back into employee benefits. Why can’t we do that in our departments and centers? Many centers already do their own cleaning and save money, but the vast majority do not. Why not get our staff members to clean the facility and put that savings into a fund for parties, cash distributions, or trips?

You may not want to do the sterile areas, as there are fairly complicated cleaning steps and routines and products required there, but as far as the rest of the department of facility — why not?! Those who think this task is below them or not in their job description do not have to participate nor share in the booty. I did some research on this matter and discovered that the average freestanding center can save about $20,000 to $30,000 per year. The average time it would take to clean the average center is about an extra 10 minutes per day per employee. Come on, give it a try. What do you have to lose?

Here is another radical Earnhart idea. When your cases for the day are complete, send your staff home with full pay.

They probably are budgeted to work all day anyway, so you won’t be losing money on the deal, but you will be making all of your surgeons and anesthesia happy that your staff are so efficient. You probably will need to rotate some of the staff for the work they do after cases, but for the most part, you can send them home.

See how fast your surgical schedule really can move. Back in my days of doing anesthesia, I was able to leave when my patient caseload was complete. I hauled butt to help turnover those rooms and get my patients into the OR and then back to PACU. It works. Do a one-month trial. Yes, there are details you would need to work out, but you can make it happen.