By Sandi Hutchinson MSN, RN, ACE and Elena Wuzel, M.Sc.
Since 2018 the German Heart Center Berlin, a 194 bed cardiovascular specialty hospital, had the goal to become Magnet designated. They were excited to be in Group 1 for the M4E project. The first contact with their twin, Northwestern Medicine Delnor, a 159 bed acute care hospital in Geneva, Illinois, was a bit awkward. It felt like a blind date! Each of us very formal and careful not to say the wrong thing. The Heart Center team was surprised to be matched with a hospital that didn’t specialize in cardiac care, but after the first meeting, it was clear the Magnet® process was universal and principles applied regardless of the specialty or size of the hospital.
Delnor had four Magnet designations and was the first non-academic hospital in Illinois to receive the designation in 2004. Sandi Hutchinson, the Delnor Magnet Program Manager, and Elena Wuzel, Heart Center Magnet Coordinator, quickly recognized they managed work similarly and both brought experience that rapidly deepened their close collaboration. Delnor had experience with merging into another health system, something Heart Center was planning with Charité, a university hospital.
Our approach to a strong relationship began with trust. We were both honest about our progress, challenges, and successes as they related to each discussion point. All who are Magnet designated know that there is always improvements and new approaches to be discovered! As trust grew so did our authenticity, teamwork, and accountability to our co-designed processes. We completed independent work after our meetings and shared our work transparently. We listened carefully to each other, taking ideas from both organizations and making joint decisions on how to create the gap analysis that was mutually beneficial. During action planning, Elena took more of a lead role in timing and appropriateness of action plans, who in her organization might won actions, and when it was suitable to move to next steps. It was important to Sandi that American nursing culture did not dominate planning decisions. The Heart Center needed autonomy to plan and move at their own pace.
Elena and Sandi wear many hats at their organizations so a small group meeting approach was the way to make significant progress. With the empowerment of their CNOs, Elena and Sandi invited key stakeholders to meetings for discussion and planning. The CNOs now have a regular meeting schedule to touch base on action items from their role perspective. Similarly, the physician leaders have begun meetings as well. Soon nurses will be connecting around projects and data collection. This method has allowed a significant amount of work to be accomplished in a short timeframe.
During a series of weekly meetings, we set progress goals for each week. We always started meetings with 5 minutes of catching up on work and personal events. Using the GAP as a guide helped to get to know each other better, understand the countries' systems, and move efficiently through the item numbers. Initially neither of us was familiar with the Box+ cloud tool, but soon realized its potential for exchanging and updating the same documents with each other as well as internally at Heart Center, especially with Covid restrictions. Creating links from the Gap Analysis to documents and examples and explanations in our Box+ tool have streamlined work with the Heart Center Magnet steering committee.
With mutual dedication to our co-designed processes we were able to complete the GAP analysis in eight weeks and to present a preliminary action plan. Most importantly, Sandi and Elena celebrate the small accomplishments after each meeting and through co-designed progress report templates for our Magnet teams and CNOs. Sometimes it is hard to see the woods through the trees, so a focus on the small wins is very important to the Magnet journey.
Magnet4Europe has been an effective intervention to help European hospitals create a nursing excellence culture and environment in partnership with experienced US hospitals. We have learned the heart and essence of a nurse is the same regardless of the country they are from or the language spoken! The Heart Center and Delnor are excited to continue this journey over the next 18 months, meet face to face and hopefully submit a Magnet application in 2022!