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A3 projects benefit Mahoning Valley

Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley celebrated its first A3 graduation in August 2009. Twelve employees participated in the class, and their projects will reduce waiting time for families, enhance patient safety and save the hospital an estimated $36,700.

The A3 program is part of the hospital’s Lean Six Sigma initiative, which is designed to find simple, cost-effective solutions to improve processes. It is taught by staff from Akron Children’s Center for Operations Excellence.

A need for support

For her A3 project, Roseann Marsico, executive secretary in administration, analyzed the gaps in coverage and support within the administrative area. 

“Services in the Mahoning Valley grew fairly quickly, and we realized that we didn’t necessarily have the support needed for key departments,” Marsico said. “My goal was to identify the best support person for specific tasks and decrease the amount of time the management staff was spending completing these tasks.”

Marisco hoped to decrease these hours from 60.4 per week to 36.24 hours per week. In order to do so, she surveyed the secretarial support staff with three purposes in mind:

  • Identify the different skills sets of the support staff and at what level
  • Identify learning opportunities for support staff
  • Improve cross-training and cross-coverage

She also surveyed the management team to identify where they felt they were completing work that could be completed by support staff. Often they were not sure which staff member had the skills necessary for the job. 

Marsico tackled the problem by developing a skills matrix that displayed the various skills of each support staff team member and a process for the management team to request assistance. This included using a white board to indicate support staff’s availability and developing a form to request administrative support.

The result: An 18 percent improvement in workflow, and estimated savings of $495 per week or $25,740 annually.

Marsico saw another benefit as well that couldn’t be quantified.

“Administration has a better understanding of the work that needs support and a greater appreciation of the term ‘team,’” she said.

The project also identified a need for secretarial support in the Engineering department. That position has already been created and filled.