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CPS Employees Improve Processes Through ImpactU Training

As one of Cincinnati’s largest employers with a full- and part-time staff of approximately 6,500 people, CPS is committed to implementing quality improvement (QI) practices and structures across all areas of work. 

It’s like people say, “there’s always room for improvement.”

That’s why local professionals are invited each year to participate in ImpactU, a six-month course facilitated by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and its James M. Anderson Center for Health Systems Excellence. The hands-on training is designed to teach in-depth QI science methods and enable participants as ‘improvement leaders.’

Two CPS employees, school health manager Angie Maddox and contract analyst Kody Hutchins, accepted the challenge this school year and graduated from the program.

“It’s given me a different lens on how to look at processes,” Maddox said. “We track numbers for everything and there’s plenty of data, it’s just figuring out how to look at it and use it. Lots of people do quality improvement, they’re just not thinking about it.”

ImpactU consists of one or two full-day training sessions per month and about three hours per week outside of the classroom dedicated to their personal project, which align with organizational goals and shared community goals described by the All Children Thrive (ACT) Learning Network, an innovative, city-wide collaborative between families, community members, social agencies, educators, public health agencies and healthcare providers.

Once everyone is paired with a coach to begin the program’s custom-tailored curriculum, participants from different industries split into groups and start self-assigned QI research projects relevant to their everyday work. As they build upon their skills and put their learnings to the test, team members work with one another to ensure all projects remain on schedule.

This twist forces participants to look at processes from all angles, not just their own perspective. Hutchins got the most out of collaborating with and growing alongside fellow team members.

“What stuck out to me the most was the opportunity to establish lasting professional relationships to better the outcomes of my work,” Hutchins said. “It changes the way I collaborate with other departments when performing tasks and initiating processes.”

Maddox’s project took an inside look at the district’s data for state-mandated screenings – including dental, vision and hearing tests, plus completion of other immunizations. Where do those processes break down when children fail and aren’t meeting certain requirements?

She concluded that uniform communication with parents is the key driver to achieving better results over time. After speaking with nurses, principals, teachers, students and parents, Maddox wants to see schools consistently promoting health resources available and the importance of following through.

Because her research pulled data from just five unique schools, the project was a humble reminder to Maddox that implementing QI change across an entire public district is no easy task.

“Every school has its own unique challenges,” Maddox said. “One solution is not necessarily one that fits all.”

QI methods and practices are a process on their own – they require time, a plan and patience. Staff members like Maddox and Hutchins understand the value in improved systems with a direct impact on the overall education experience at CPS.

“The real treasure is understanding our why, the students,” Hutchins said. “Improving our processes through QI will, in the long run, improve the opportunities for our students to achieve graduation, employment and success.”