Resetting After the Pandemic

Matt Shonosky
Matt Shonosky, Manager of 2C, Medical, Cardiology and Regional Stroke Unit and Manager of Vascular Services at TBRHSC, saw the effects of the pandemic on Hospital staff first-hand and wanted to make a change.

How one manager fosters positivity for staff and patients.

When you come to 2C at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC), you get the impression that the staff love what they do and are committed to their work.

That is how Paul’s friend Ron describes it.

Paul Carr, Co-chair of the Patient Family Advisory Committee, with Ron’s permission, shared Ron’s story as a patient on 2C to demonstrate how staff experience directly impacts patient experience.

“My friend Ron got up in the morning, felt tingling, numbness and weakness in his left arm,” Paul recounts.

“He came to the [TBRHSC] Emergency Department, and upon seeing the nurse he was triaged directly inside. It didn’t take long to determine he had a stroke and was treated right away.”

Ron was admitted to the Regional Stroke Unit on 2C where he stayed as an inpatient for a few days.

“Upon arrival to the 2C Unit, Ron said he was treated incredibly by his care team,” he adds. “The nurses who attended to him not only were clinically amazing in providing care, they demonstrated wholehearted caring. Ron’s impression was that every single person genuinely cared about him as a person, his outcomes, and how things were going for him.”

The other sense that Ron got, Paul explains, was that the staff on 2C enjoyed their work.

“The teamwork he observed, the support from their manager, everything made it evident they were working as a team to be able to provide the best care to the patients. They are committed to the work and they are happy.”

In this post-pandemic health care system, this is an incredible feat. The significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health care system and the challenges faced by staff, including extended work hours, shifting approaches in care delivery and decreased vacation time, left health care workers across the province feeling stressed and disengaged.

Matt Shonosky, Manager of 2C, Medical, Cardiology and Regional Stroke Unit and Manager of Vascular Services at TBRHSC, saw the effects of the pandemic on Hospital staff first-hand and wanted to make a change.

“This past February, morale was low on 2C with our staff still feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Matt says. “The Coordinator, Clinical Nurse Specialist and I made a commitment to transform the environment [on 2C]. The first idea we came up with was to facilitate colleagues celebrating each other.”

They used a whiteboard in the nursing bubble and set it up as a “bravo” board.

“We call it the “2C-tastic Board”,” smiles Matt. “Staff put up sticky notes with shout outs to their colleagues. It is also a place where I put up compliments or thank you cards that we receive from patients and families for all staff to see.”

“Staff have certainly taken to using the board and it has really helped to increase morale,” he adds.

This initiative coincided with the Hospital-wide recognition initiative “Thumbs Up”, where staff can recognize their colleagues and express their gratitude on an electronic bulletin board.

“A lot of my staff submit to that as well, so we print them out and post them to the 2C-tastic Board. It is a great way for staff to acknowledge each other’s hard work and dedication to the unit.”

Also during that time, the masking mandate was still in place, which made it difficult to recognize a new staff member.

“When new grads came into our department, we could only see their eyes and not their face, and I would get people confused,” explains Matt. “We created a “New Recruits Board”, where we post a picture of the new staff with a short biography, including where they are coming from and what their interests are, to welcome them to the department. I’ve received positive feedback and it makes them feel like part of the team.”

Matt also wanted staff to feel more engaged at work and inspire communication. This aligned well with the implementation of Quality Huddles and the Quality Board, where staff are encouraged to highlight ideas that help improve their day and improve the patients’ experience.

“Staff post their ideas on the Quality Board and every Thursday we meet to discuss the issue and come up with solutions,” explains Matt.

For example, staff identified a need for equipment to improve timing when conducting assessments, specifically thermometers and machines for vitals.

“That was something I was able to resolve quickly,” Matt recalls. “We got new thermometers, we were able to get the vital signs machine repaired, and I was able to share that success the following week with staff.”

“Last month, our team generated ten change ideas and we have implemented nine improvements from that list,” continues Matt. “It is really making a difference for our staff and they feel heard and supported.”

“A driving factor in the implementation of the Quality Huddles was recognizing the importance of continuous improvement, and looking at ways we can better engage and involve staff at the department level,” said Tram Dao, Manager of Quality and Risk Management at TBRHSC. “The Quality Huddles were first implemented across the medical and surgical inpatient units early this year. Since then, Quality and Risk Management has continued to support a number of teams in rolling out this framework, with a plan to expand to outpatient and non-clinical departments in the fall.”

Tram continues, “It is truly great to see the positive impact that the Quality Huddles have had on multiple departments, including 2C. They have given staff a voice, a forum to share their innovative ideas, and the support needed to implement improvements within their department; no matter how big or small.”

And as a part of supporting his team, Matt includes both patient and staff rounding. On average, he completes more than 60 patient rounds per month, and more than 100 staff rounds a month.

“Every day I try to connect with as many of my staff as I can. I want to hear how their day is going, address any issues they may be facing and see how I can help them.

“Patient rounding is part of supporting my staff as well as improving the patient experience. Visiting every patient admitted, discussing their care, and seeing if there are any concerns that we can address right away. It has improved patient satisfaction, where I’m seeing a lot more patients saying they are pleased with the care they have received.”

Paul witnessed Matt in action when he was visiting his friend Ron.

“Ron was blown away that the manager came in to have a chat,” exclaims Paul. “Matt asked how he was doing, how his care was, if there was anything he needed. And demonstrated, at the management level, that he cared what happened to the patients on 2C. I am certain that my friend wasn’t the only person Matt visited that day.”

Matt concludes, “We have a great team, a very dedicated team. Despite the serious challenges and obstacles they’ve faced over the past three years, our staff have worked tirelessly to care for patients and keep our community safe and healthy. I want them to feel valued and supported because if staff have a good experience, the care provided will be better also.”

For more information on TBRHSC’s Staff Experience priority, watch this video [] and read our Strategic Plan 2026 online: