Managers at Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) became frustrated last year with chronic staff absenteeism and tardiness. They were also concerned about numerous patient complaints claiming that quality of care was being compromised by negative staff attitudes.
In the past, the hospital managers penalized or fired poorly-performing staff. But, this year, they tried a different approach to resolve these issues.
The hospital management team requested assistance from the PEPFAR-funded, USAID-supported Guyana HIV/AIDS Reduction and Prevention Project, phase II (GHARP II).
In response, GHARP II, led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), facilitated a workshop for GPHC’s CEO and 25 managers using the Leadership Development Program (LDP), a training course developed by MSH.
During the workshop, GHARP II used the LDP tools to help trainees identify workplace challenges and their root causes, affected stakeholders, and possible solutions. The process also allowed participants to build strategic thinking and planning skills for resolving future workplace issues. By the conclusion of the LDP workshop, the manager trainees had developed an action plan for addressing staff absenteeism, tardiness, and negative attitudes.
“I am happy we are putting the training into action by setting targets and putting timelines to them. In the end, the result will be an improvement in the quality of services we provide,” said Coletta Benn-Alphonso, a quality improvement officer at GPHC.
Yolanda Grenville, GPHC’s Quality Improvement Coordinator, is leading the charge to implement this action plan, less than two months after the training. “The [LDP training] helped us realize how urgently we need to address these issues, as we didn’t realize how much they were affecting the way patients are being cared for,” said Yolanda.
With Yolanda’s support, Odessa Wickham, GPHC’s human resource manager, established employee assistance officers and trained them to work with staff who were frequently late and absent.
Instead of taking punitive measures, the employee assistance officers help staff to use LDP problem-solving strategies to identify the underlying causes of their attendance issues, explore possible solutions, and develop a corresponding action plan. One solution that has already been successful is helping employees exchange shifts so their work hours do not conflict with their children’s school schedules.
Yolanda also assembled a team of seven LDP trainees to work with her on action plan implementation. This team is planning to facilitate a follow-up LDP training in March—after GHARP II has closed. They are also conducting a patient satisfaction survey to inform future quality improvement activities. To date, over 200 patients have completed the survey.
Yolanda and her team recognize that there is still a long way to go to improve the hospital’s internal operations and service delivery. They are confident, however, that the LDP strategies, and their commitment to improved performance, will help them accomplish their goals.
Shameza David is a program officer for GHARP II at MSH. GHARP II, led by MSH, closed the end of February 2013.