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‘Sacred space’ giving Ascension leaders time to listen, respond to patients, associates

Research has shown that associates who feel cared about tend to do a better job of caring for others—and of the best ways to convey that is through actual face time. So throughout Ascension, a two-hour window of time has been designated as “sacred space,” meaning that no meetings are to be held during this time to promote associate and patient rounding. 
 
“Unfortunately, meetings, emails and texts all too often interfere with leaders’ ability to consistently meet with associates and patients and their families,” says Carla Yost, chief nursing officer for Ascension Via Christi. “Carving out space on leaders’ calendars each day between 2 and 4 p.m. is one way to see that those conversations occur. Developing and implementing a plan for rounding is another.”
 
Just ask Jennifer Goehring, who serves as the chief nursing officer for Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Manhattan.
 
Goehring developed a plan that prioritizes the use of that sacred space time to ensure that rounding is happening effectively and efficiently as well as consistently.
 
“Patients let you know what they need, so I just sat down and listened,” says Goehring. The needs – and the person providing the feedback – may be somewhat different when you’re rounding on medical vs. surgical units. Typically, in the medical units you are talking with the patient, where on the surgical units you’re often talking with a family member, Goehring says, but in either case, you’re listening to hear what matters most and to develop an appropriate action plan.
 
To develop and implement that plan, Goehring collaborated with Annette Conrow, who serves as the hospital’s director of Acute Care Services.
 
“We assigned leaders to round on those areas based on where they could have the most direct influence in addressing the concerns we were hearing,” Goehring says, such as assigning non-clinical leaders to round on rooms where patient and family feedback had related to their area of responsibility.
 
Because patients who were the frailest or most confused are placed in rooms closest to the nursing desk, clinical leaders were assigned to round on those rooms.
 
The result? 
 
“We see all leaders coming together around what is most important — every patient, every time, every day — which is something that would not be possible without the help of our ancillary leaders.”
 
And that, says Yost, is exactly what the sacred space initiative was designed to do.

About Roz Hutchinson

Roz Hutchinson is a Wichita wife, mother and chief spoiler of six grandkids and three Chihuahuas, a die-hard women's basketball fan, and director of Communications and Public Relations for Ascension Via Christi.