Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Improving the Patient Belongings System in the Hospital

Do you know someone who lost a personal item in a hospital?  Hospitals around the country misplace thousands of articles every year from eyeglasses, dentures, and hearing aids to favorite sweaters and a myriad of other belongings. I have been at many places that tried to fix this. Think of one typical trajectory of a patient in a typical hospital: from the Emergency Department to the Operating Room to the PACU to the ICU to a floor bed and finally home, and then think of all of the places that the items could get lost.

Keeping the patient’s belongings in a safe place and knowing where they are at all times requires more than hard work and good intentions alone…it requires a designed system and standard work. We have standard procedures for documenting and taking certain belongings from the patient but we don’t always follow our design. But now there is hope…

I have written about our wonderful Unit 36 before. Unit 36 is a Med-Psych unit and some of its patients are at risk of injuring themselves or others. For this reason, it is critical that the staff knows exactly what belongings the patients have access to. Unit 36 began to participate in Lean Daily Management last month and they chose to measure the compliance with our patient belongings procedure as something to study and improve. They have now been measuring this daily and have not only improved their own performance but have also begun to work with other units to improve theirs.

Last Sunday, Nancy Amann-Santos,  the Unit 36 Nurse Manager, held the monthly Clinical Unit Coordinators’ (CUC) meeting on the Unit. CUC’s Nicole Stuckey, Rachel Price, and Christina Mosner realized that they had an opportunity to improve their performance in storing belongings on the Unit so they decided to do a 5S (sort, separate, shine, standardize, and sustain) on the room where the belongings are kept.

This is a BEFORE photo of storing belongings...

The CUC’s worked together to clean, organize and label the room to have an organized and standard process for receiving and storing patient belongings. This was to not only reinforce a need for a safe environment but to ensure that patients were leaving the hospital with the belongings they came with.

The AFTER photo of storage for patient belongings...

What a difference! I am very proud of Nancy and her team and grateful for all that they are doing to move us closer to our vision. After all, if it were your loved one you would want her safe and you would also want her to come home with her glasses and her favorite sweater!

The Creation of a New Playground in a GBMA Neighborhood: Perry Hall

There is an outstanding new playground and amphitheater coming to Perry Hall in the Spring of 2015. It will be one-of-a-kind, community-built, privately and corporately-funded and located next to the Perry Hall Library —a place that promotes active play, stimulates the imagination, is fully accessible and all-inclusive for children, regardless of their physical abilities.  The playground is to be named Angel Park.

The dream of this amazing playground began with an idea that came to Kelli and Andy Szczybor after the loss of their baby boy Ryan. From a sad origin, a bright and life affirming idea emerged – to build a place for laughter, activity and fun for families and friends throughout the surrounding neighborhoods. The playground is being designed with the help of over 2,500 local schoolchildren who shared their drawings and brainstormed ideas.  If you want to learn more about this playground and how you can help, visit 


  1. We could really use a play area for children on our campus. Young siblings who come to visit a new baby brother or sister get bored quickly and need a place to release some energy. Inpatient units aren't a safe place to do that. Thanks for considering it!

    1. Thanks, Anonymous. A play area raises many issues but we will keep this request in mind for the future.

  2. Jennifer AshtonMay 1, 2014 at 9:45 AM

    As a member of the 1st 5S team at GBMC Joppa Road, this is very exciting. I am thrilled that GBMC is using the 5S method and hope to see it expand to other units and offices. It is a great time and cost saving method. The patient belonging storage area looks great Unit 36!

  3. A great idea, I experienced a belongings loss when my Dad was hospitalized and working in the health care business for over 20 years sometimes the best answers are simple.


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