Erin McGarvey works tirelessly to lead an impressive team within Interior Health’s Lean Promotion Office.

According to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, “Lean thinking begins with driving out waste so that all work adds value and serves the customer’s needs.” Traditionally, Lean work was not fully coordinated in Interior Health as small, continuous improvement projects have been implemented throughout the organization.

Erin successfully shifted the work of the Lean Promotion Office from independent projects to a service-line approach. When the office was established, she led the development of a comprehensive strategic plan that outlines how several Rapid Process Improvement Workshops (five-day workshops that focus on particular processes that can be improved) were to be conducted. Her team then identified key areas for improvement and mobilized senior leaders, clinical leaders, and other practitioners.

Erin also led the creation of a Lean Certification Program, which builds capacity within the organization at the leadership level to support continuous improvements that improve the patient experience. Nine cohorts have completed certification and an additional 14 are currently within the certification program.

The first service line areas targeted by the Lean Promotion Office were hip/knee replacements, the Frail Elderly and, more recently, Surgical Services as a whole. Both Penticton Regional Hospital and Kelowna General Hospital have led Rapid Process Improvement Workshops on the surgical services line; as an example of Lean’s potential to improve quality of care and efficiency of operations, a recent event improved the cycle times of room cleaning and preparations between surgeries. Additional results after 12 workshops in the hospitals are impressive. Improvements have been seen in surgical patient flow, staff engagement and satisfaction, cost reductions and communication between multidisciplinary teams.

Additionally, over 100 leaders have completed Lean Management training and their departments receive continued mentorship, direct coaching and support. Two more sites will begin featuring Lean work next year and soon the Lean Promotion Office will expand focus to other service lines.

Erin works with all levels of leadership to promote inclusion of frontline staff and patients in not only identifying where the problems are, but in all aspects of problem solving. Perhaps the best example of her leadership is the partnership she has forged between the Lean Promotion Office and Interior Health’s Quality, Risk & Accreditation team. These two departments have come together to work in tandem on Lean Management initiatives in two major sites – a pioneering accomplishment, considering  the two departments typically work separately.

Erin’s ability to inspire others begins with the way she has led the small Lean Promotion Office team in achieving significant and positive impact across the health system. Erin has been the backbone of the department and has inspired her team to maintain its commitment to improving care in spite of the enormous challenges that often face change agents in complex systems.