In November 2017, Sinai Health System announced Jane Merkley as Executive Vice President, Chief Nurse Executive and Chief Operating Officer. We sat down with Jane to discuss her expanded role and hear her perspective on the importance of linking quality, clinical care and operations.
You have had an extensive clinical career, what inspired you to become a nurse?
I always wanted to be a nurse; there was never any doubt in my mind. I loved the idea of being part of a helping profession and being in a profession that made a real and meaningful difference in the lives of others. I was also drawn to the fact that nursing is an autonomous profession, where you have a chance to be a real leader in your role, but also work as part of a team of professionals who all share the same focus. And of course, I like the idea of lifelong learning and being part of a profession that is always evolving and growing. And I loved science. Luckily for me, nursing combines all of these.
You’ve recently taken on an expanded role at Sinai Health – Chief Operating Officer. What about this new portfolio excites you?
Most exciting for me is the ability to align the operations of the hospital, both clinical and non-clinical, to our quality and professional practice agenda. When quality, operation and clinical agendas reinforce one another, resources become aligned with what matters most to our patients and family caregivers, and to staff.
I’m also really energized about our performance work – looking at the financial, operational and quality outcomes we are trying to achieve. You can have a big operating plan with a lot of things on it, but we may not be improving the patient experience or driving quality. That’s why it’s so important to line up our operating work to our desired outcomes, and build that discipline of applying a quality and safety lens to everything we do.
We often think of operations and care separately. Why do you think it’s important to link them together?
When you plan with professional practice, quality and operations in mind, everything starts to integrate. As Chief Nurse Executive and Chief Operating Officer, my role is to bring those streams together so that we are developing work plans that are sustainable, drive outcomes and supports our Quality Aims.
When you don’t have that alignment, you may have the goal of being operationally efficient, but maybe you haven’t really considered the quality of the outcomes or how we are going to sustain the work or looked at it from a best practice lens. So you may end up with an efficient metric on length of stay for example, but patient outcomes may not improve or may even deteriorate. We must also consider staff experience in ensuring we’ve considered their workflow and how we are impacting the work of clinicians.
From a quality and patient care perspective, what new initiatives should we look for in 2018/19?
One of our largest projects that will roll out over the next few years is closed loop barcoding for medication administration. This project is in support of one of our high–level quality aims, which to eliminate preventable harm related to medication errors.
In the spring, Sinai Health will also launch our academic professional practice strategy, which will include a new, integrated governance structure for practice across campuses. We will also be working to build capacity for research and education for our Nursing and Health Discipline professions, which is a key driver for improving patient experience and innovating care.
We also have a lot of transformation clinical care work coming up including developing our system-wide oncology and palliative care strategy. One new project, Hospital at Home, is a program designed to provide acute care in home for patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, pneumonia and heart failure, a first among the Toronto Academic Health Sciences Network.
Finally, what would we find you doing when you aren’t at one of our campuses?
When I’m not working, I have couple of passions. I love to sail. Right now my husband and I are learning more about ocean sailing and how that differs from sailing in Lake Ontario. I really enjoy knitting. I usually have a good knitting project going throughout the year. I like to run and I’m about to start my training regimen for the Sporting Life 10k in the spring. And if you were speaking with me in the summer time, I’d be talking to you about refining my golfing skills.