​​Image of Group shot of the 4 looking at the camera and stretching sheet
Clockwise from bottom left: Meseret Seifu, Ken Baptiste, Brian Fernandez and Tania Salvadori, stretching an obsolete bedsheet. (Photo: UHN)

Tania Salvadori and three colleagues had a particularly frustrating encounter with a fitted bed sheet.

To get the sheet stretched over the hospital bed mattress they had to roll their patient from one side of the bed to the other. Seven times. It was a trying scene for the patient and for the staff.

The incident prompted Tania to ask a question during her team's huddle. It's one that had occurred to many of her colleagues: Why do some of the sheets go on so much easier than others?

"I talked to our facilities department and they brought in a representative from the company that supplies the sheets," says Tania, a nurse at Toronto Western Hospital. "We learned there are two sizes and the smaller ones should already be gone."

The unit's patient care assistants, Meseret Seifu, Ken Baptiste and Brian Fernandez, devised a process for taking the small sheets out of circulation and returning them for a refund.

Finding the small sheets would have been an onerous task were it not for one tiny but important fact the group discovered after reporting their progress back to the rest of the team during a huddle.

"We realized the small sheets have orange stitching and the new ones use black," says Meseret. "That made sorting them out really easy."

Image of the old sheets are so small
The old sheets are so small that staff have to bend the mattresses almost in half to get them on. (Photo: UHN)

"In the first three days we found enough of the small sheets to save $13. At $1.25 per kilogram, that's a lot of sheets," says Ken.

And life on the ward is all around easier when the sheets are going on smoothly.

"It's the domino effect," says Brian. "When one person can put a sheet on quickly you free up a lot of time for everything else."

The lesson learned for Tania is about the value of having a platform to deal with problems.

"When you bring forward the little things that drive you nuts, you realize that everyone is having the same issues," says Tania. "Getting them out in the open is the first step towards making changes."

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