People of KHSC: Julie Ballance, Charge Nurse & Accreditation Ambassador
A charge nurse in busy outpatient clinics at the Hotel Dieu Hospital site of Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC), Julie Ballance has been pulling double duty lately as an Accreditation Ambassador, a role that makes her a key frontline resource as KHSC prepares for a week-long assessment April 25-29 that will see it measured against more than 3000 national standards of health care excellence.
The Accreditation process is familiar to Julie but guiding her co-workers through it—especially the prospect of fielding questions from external surveyors who will be digging into KHSC practices, policies and procedures—is brand new.
“The ambassador role puts you into the thick of Accreditation,” she says, “so I’ve learned much more about the entire process, about the standards that drive quality practices and about patient care across KHSC, including beyond the ambulatory clinics.
“Some staff in my areas have never been through an Accreditation. My job has been to boost people’s comfort level with the process. We’ve been having daily huddles and pop quizzes—with lots of candy prizes—that let staff ask questions, look at resources or just share their anxiety about the site visit and answering surveyor questions. I remind them to just take a beat and think about what they already do so well every day to provide safe, quality care. It’s second nature to them.
“We’ve also been talking about how we keep improving patient care through projects like finding more ways to ensure patients bring in a full medication list at every visit or revising appointment slips to include information that will help patients be better prepared for their clinic visit. What I’ve really come to appreciate about Accreditation is how it gives us the opportunity to stay on top of all the good things we’re doing every single day—even in the crazy environment of COVID-19!”
As Accreditation Ambassador Julie is also a go-to person for surveyors when they visit HDH outpatient clinics. How does she feel about them looking to her for answers?
“As charge nurse, I obviously know the staff and clinic flow and function, but the ambassador role has made me more confident and less intimidated by Accreditation. I have a much better handle on what the surveyors expect and what we need to focus on in terms of our practice, work ethic, teamwork and innovation.
“I know we have amazing staff providing amazing care. We’re all going to do just fine.”