Hospital designed by John Black Lean having Lean problems

Lean waiting room, Lean staffing levels causing problems in Moose Jaw

The hospital in Moose Jaw was designed around the John Black Lean method – and after a few months of operation, it’s obvious Lean is causing big problems. 

“I’m hearing time and again that Lean made a mess of the Moose Jaw hospital,” said NDP Health critic Danielle Charter. “With the Lean program in charge, the staff is run off their feet, and the hospital is dirty. The Lean design has left patients uncomfortable with the lack of waiting areas and lack of privacy. We need to make some changes to focus on front-line staff, and use this space better.”

Moose Jaw resident Cheryl Pakula spent 13 days in December and January at the bedside of a loved one at the F.H. Wigmore Regional Hospital, which was designed using the Lean program and runs using a John Black Lean system. In a letter to the health minister, Pakula described the Emergency Department waiting room as a “tiny corner,” that was so overcrowded “people were sitting on the floor.”

This matches information the NDP obtained via freedom of information laws, which shows that the new emergency room waiting room is only 17 meters squared, or 180 square feet – the size of four ping-pong tables.

For Pakula’s family, the problems only got worse once her loved one was admitted. She described incredible short-staffing, including only one or two nurses at any time on the Intensive Care Unit – frustrating when her loved one needed care.

She described cleaning staff so scarce and busy that “dirty laundry, used syringes, and other medical waste accumulated on the floor from days 1-8.” At that point, the family brought disinfectant from home to help protect their loved ones and themselves from infection.

Pakula blames the toxic Lean program.

“I watched members of your Kaizen Team time employees as they restocked supply cabinets and hand our food trays; the staff knew they were being timed, so couldn’t even stop for a wee chat with the patients,” she wrote to the minister. “I was, and remain, dumbfounded.”

Chartier points to a map of the hospital, showing a large bank of offices for the Lean Kaizen promotion team.

“Incredibly talented and caring health care professionals are working in a system that puts Lean consultants with stop-watches ahead of patients,” said Chartier. “On the whole, Lean has been a failure in Saskatchewan. Health care workers hate it, patient outcomes are worse, and the stories of long waits, overcrowding and deteriorating conditions in our hospitals are frustrating, and heartbreaking.

“It’s time to let the staff speak out, and to listen to them. How can we salvage this hospital so that it’s patient-centred, not John Black-Lean driven?”  

Chartier said Cam Broten’s plan to reduce the bloated administration in health care and shift those dollars into having more front-line health care workers, along with his plan to shut down the $20-million per year Lean Kaizen Promotion Offices, will make a big difference to patients and frustrated health professionals.