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Features Health & Wellness Macon Health Department gets LEAN training

Coordinating efforts to conduct LEAN training for staff at the Macon County Public Health Department are, from left, Michael Davis, Southwestern Community College customized training director, Jim Bruckner, health department director, Bill Iacovelli and Jim Kurian, improvement specialists with N.C. State University, Tammy Keezer, health department operations section administrator and Sonja Haynes, SCC executive director of business and institutional development.Macon County could have a one-stop public health clinic.

Right now residents have to go when the individual clinics are scheduled, such as family planning, prenatal, child health, cancer, immunizations.

But thanks to a LEAN initiative from Southwestern Community College and a grant from the Cherokee Preservation Fund, that could change.

SCC is working with several organizations, including neighboring community colleges, N.C. Department of Commerce and N.C. State University to develop LEAN training programs for area organizations, businesses and manufacturers.

LEAN is a production practice that concentrates on creating value for the end customer. Everything else is considered wasteful, and thus a target for elimination. LEAN is a management philosophy derived from Toyota and the success of how this small company steadily grew into the world’s largest automaker.

“Basically, LEAN centers on preserving value with less work,” Jim Kurian, improvement specialist with N.C. State University, told health department employees recently during a LEAN training session he conducted at their Lakeside Drive facility.

“In our state, most public health departments are divided out into different programs,” said Jim Bruckner, director of Macon’s Public Health Department. “What we are looking at with LEAN training is to create a system of care to do today’s work today.

“When somebody walks through the door, we need to help them right away. They shouldn’t have to come at a certain time or day for a specific clinic. Our goal is open access of care and through lean training we feel our staff can learn ways to accomplish this. It is our staff who will be the catalysts to create this change.”

In his presentation to the staff Kurian said the first step is understanding what has value in the eyes of a patient. “For instance, you might have a restaurant owner who needs a septic permit and your goal is to provide that as quickly and efficiently as you can … eliminate the barriers, get rid of all the stuff that gets in the way of providing that value.”

In another example Kurian described a patient sitting in a waiting room. “Already they are waiting; you don’t want them to have to wait longer than necessary. If the nurse comes in to the room then discovers she needs a certain form and has to go back out to get it, that’s waste. It holds up the work flow. But using LEAN principles you learn to work efficiently so nothing is wasted.”

“At SCC we are excited about the training that was conducted, and look forward to hearing feedback from the health department on how LEAN is benefiting their organization,” said Michael Davis, SCC customized training director.

Davis said additional LEAN training will be available for organizations, businesses, and manufacturers and urged those interested to check for updates on SCC’s webpage www.southwesterncc.edu/business training/index.htm. For more information, contact Davis at (828) 339-4507.


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