Our Stories

What makes a great TEAM? HUGS!

Toronto, March 16, 2017

By Evelyne Jhung

Fiona Press and Anna Tripodi share a hug
Fiona Press (left), a dietitian, and Anna Tripodi, a social worker, both on 16CCN, share a hug during a busy work day. (Photo by Yuri Markarov)

Vanessa Fazzari, an RN on 16 CCN, planned to work at St. Michael’s for only one year and then move on. That was eight years ago.

“I’m still here mainly because of my co-workers,” said Fazzari. “They’re a caring and supportive group of people, which is great because our floor is pretty stressful. It’s nice when you’re having a rough day and you can go down the hall and ask for support from a colleague. When you get a HUG, all that stress is released – even if it’s just for that moment.”

16 CCN named its team-building initiative “TEAM HUGS”– Together Everyone Achieves More, Here U Get Support/Here U Give Support. Not everyone wants a physical hug but that same support and comfort can be shown in words and other actions.

Based on the results of the last employee engagement survey, staff selected building respect and teamwork as an area they felt could be improved. The team started by determining what makes a good team.

“We created a survey in which the first step was evaluating ourselves – ‘Am I a team player?’,” said Joan Park, the case manager for 16 CCN. “Characteristics of being a good team player include continuous self-improvement and helping our colleagues prioritize their care. We scored ourselves quite high. Most people considered themselves a team player. The second step was looking at the team and asking if we thought our colleagues were team players. We scored others a bit lower on this question.”

Our 16 CCN Team Pledge was recognized as a notable initiative by the Accreditation Canada surveyors in 2016.

Park, along with Joanne Bennett, the clinical leader manager for 16CCN, Katherine Mansfield, a clinical nurse educator, and Jo Hoeflok, a nurse practitioner, developed a plan that included creating a team pledge, or code of conduct, to enable team members to work better with each other.

“Our behaviour and conduct is about only two things: things we do and things we say,” said Park. “Therefore, our pledge is about what we say or don’t say and do or don’t do, for example, ‘I will welcome and encourage new team members’ and I will not say ‘It’s not my job to do that.’ We’re proud because I believe we’ve given some concrete examples of things staff can say and do to support each other; we didn’t just have an information session about it. We’ve given them tools to do better.”

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

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