If you’re like many living in the Midwest, it’s been a long, cold winter. Even the folks in the Deep South haven’t been spared from Mother Nature’s cold touch this year. But as the calendar flips, it looks as though a reprieve from the white stuff and the subzero temperatures might finally be at hand. And like so many, thoughts of sun, outdoors, and recreation begins to dominate not only our minds, but also the media.
Unfortunately, along with spring and the rush to beat cabin fever comes the dreaded call for spring cleaning. For many families, spring cleaning is a ritual. It’s so engrained that books are written, and articles are featured in magazines on organizing, improving, and preparing for the momentous event. Let’s not forget the Pinterest Boards that plenty of women (and men) have to pin organizational and other hack suggestions that promise to make their lives a little easier. Some people successfully meet the annual challenge of spring cleaning and proudly proclaim their triumph on Facebook. Others sink in defeat, content to not need a tetanus shot or a trip to the emergency room.
Whether you and your family firmly believe in spring cleaning or not is entirely up to you. The one thing that is abundantly clear is that once in a while it simply makes sense to clean up, sort, toss out, and repair.
This thought is appropriate for your urgent care center as well.
When was the last time that someone was responsible for rotating your stock of suture material? Is it common practice to purchase more and put them on the shelf? Or how about checking the dates or condition of less frequently used items such as Xeroform or prepacked catheter trays—those “just in case” type items. Are they tucked away in the back of some shelf or remote storage closet? Perhaps they are the same ones you’ve had since the initial order when you first opened your clinic? Is the packaging torn? Yellowed? So dusty that you could write the clinic name on the wrapper?
Would you want a patient to see any of these items? Or worse, use one of these items during treatment? Sure, if the packaging is still intact, and there is no expiration date, the product might still be useful. But there may be a question of quality assurance for a medical supply that has been languishing on the shelf for months, if not years.
Maybe it’s not the Band-Aids or gauze that make you worry. It may be those odd sized knee supports or small crutches that have been crammed away in the back of the closet. Are the arm pads worn away or discolored? Is the box or packaging for the splint torn or missing? Again, consider the appearance and ponder if you would honestly present this to a patient.
Lastly, what about your cleaning supplies? When was the last time anyone thought to look under the sink? Or cleaned out the utility room? Is there a culture of saving everything in your urgent care? Is there a bottle of cleaner or disinfectant with a mere drop or two remaining on the bottom? Are there containers that have crusted over tops or have leaked and created “death rings” on the bottom of the cabinet?
So as the days begin to turn a little warmer, requiring fewer layers of clothing, and the threat of flu a distant memory, consider taking the time to conduct a little spring cleaning in your center and follow these simple practices:
- If you’ve never put a good inventory management system in place, this is an excellent time to take stock and begin one.
- Get rid of items that have no marketable patient value. In other words, if you wouldn’t use it on your family member, don’t use it on a patient in your center.
- Moving forward, employ the simple accounting method of first in, first out for all purchased products; this would be especially true of anything with an expiration date.
- Keep a regular inventory inspection and notify key staff of products that are set to expire to reduce waste/loss.
- Don’t horde. It’s not appealing in a home and has no place at a business.
Spring cleaning is never a fun chore. However, the results give you a sense of accomplishment, pride, and create a new order for the center. And who knows what you might discover hidden away.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Patrice Pash is DocuTAP’s Director of Consulting Services. She has nearly 20 years of experience under her belt and has helped more than 150 clinics successfully start from the ground up.