The best nursing administrators don’t just balance quality and budgets — they’re proactive agents of change, ensuring continuous improvement throughout the system for the benefit of hard-working health care workers and patients alike. In Vancouver, Michele Trask has long worked to achieve those goals and has been praised at all levels for her incredible results.
As Operations Leader in the Hemodialysis Centre at St. Paul’s Hospital, Michele manages a 46-station hospitalbased HD unit with an annual operating budget of $18 million and 120 full-time positions. In that role, she has gone from success to success; for instance, she has led the design, implementation and evaluation of a new Involved Care Unit, an internationally-recognized program where patients become leaders in their own care. “That success came about because of Michele’s willingness to tackle an ingrained culture that was failing to provide the greatest satisfaction for patients and staff alike,” says Providence Health Care Director of Patient Safety & Patient Relations Camille Ciarniello.
Facing a recent organizational budget crunch, Michele has overseen a new lean staffing and service redesign that saves the hospital $156,000 annually; in just four months, she very nearly eliminated massive overtime expenditures and cut sickness rates within the unit nearly in half; ultimately, she has improved service levels for high-needs patients without using greater resources.
“Michele is committed to improving the quality of care on the dialysis unit and has been a driving force behind many new initiatives to achieve this,” says colleague, Debra Fairhurst.
While Michele’s careful planning has had huge benefits for the Providence Health Care authority over the years, it is her generous support for nurses’ education that will ensure a legacy for years to come. “Michele enables nursing students to have the best learning environment possible,” says Patient Navigator Gillian Carter. She is a preceptor and teacher for nursing students at Kwantlen and Langara colleges and has involved fourth-year students directly in St. Paul’s Hospital’s change initiative that helped hemodialysis patients to improve their independence.
Transformative change requires strong leadership, but far from using a top-down approach, Michele engages with all members of care teams to seek input wherever she can. That style has won her the respect of all the nurses on her ward, as well as from other staff and physicians.
Michele’s desire for continued learning does not stop with the nursing staff, Fairhurst notes. “She is constantly on her own journey of educational advancement, attending countless professional development opportunities such as BC Kidney Days and the Quality Academy. She has kept her College of Registered Nurses accreditation active and is a member of many nursing organizations.
Going far above the call of duty, Michele volunteers her time generously. For instance, she is active at the Gallery Gachet, a Vancouver Coastal Health initiative that funds arts for people with mental illness. She has also volunteered while traveling, as when she worked at La Cruz Roja Internacional in Costa Rica and the Hope Birth Project in Guatemala.
Whether Michele is supporting fellow nurses in a leadership role or teaching them best practices in practical clinics, her goal is to improve the patient experience and care delivery — and in this, she has had resounding success.