Hospitals and emergency departments are getting busier as populations age and more chronic diseases develop, but in many places, health care spending is not growing in step with rising patient numbers. In the emergency department at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) in British Columbia, one of Canada’s largest and busiest hospitals, staff and management are trying to cope with these challenges without the aid of additional financial or human resources.
According to Gallup survey results, these challenges were having a negative effect on emergency department staff, showing that morale and engagement was low, likely due to the pressures of stagnant budgets, increasing workload due to more patients and the day-to-day grind of serving a difficult clientele. There was also a pervasively negative portrayal of health care in the media.
The VGH emergency department is British Columbia’s second busiest, and its only accredited level one trauma center (a special designation recognizing the most comprehensive facilities and services). In 2012–13 there were 84,315 visits to the hospital’s emergency department (ED). Admissions have increased 13.5% since 2009–10.
Many studies show that having a satisfied, engaged workforce leads to increased productivity and better corporate outcomes. Companies with high morale outperform similar companies in their same industries by almost 2.5 to 1. According to researchers, morale is more influenced from the top down than from the bottom up. It was clear that we needed staff to not only maintain, but increase productivity to keep up with the growing number of patients and other demands.
Read the full case study in Communication World.