April 2020

A New Partnership

Salina Regional Health Enterprises (SRHE) and Competitive Business Solutions (CBS) proudly announce a partnership to deliver Lean 6 Sigma training to health-care entities. This partnership creates an unprecedented combination of leaders in the health-care industry and Lean 6 Sigma services. This new alliance recognizes Salina Regional’s great success in Lean and intends to provide this training to a 6-state area (central U.S.).

This partnership is a result of each party’s passion of improving medical services while continuing to increase affordability within the healthcare industry. Joel Phelps, Chief Executive Officer of SRHE, indicated, “Salina Regional Health Enterprise has always had the desire to help other organizations that face similar challenges. This partnership will allow our team to expand our reach and hopefully help other health systems improve performance.” Phelps also expressed while the savings provided by their efforts is meaningful, the improved service, quality and patient outcomes are really what it is all about. Ed Hoffman, Founder and President of CBS, recently affirmed, “CBS is extremely excited to be partnering with Salina Regional Health Enterprises. This partnership gives health organizations the best of SRHE’s proven training approach and our ability to help organizations apply the training to attain significant results.” Hoffman further shared that assisting health organizations “has always been a personal passion.” The ability to leverage CBS’s years of partnering with organizations to drive operational excellence and getting to apply it in the health-care space will have a direct impact on people, which is meaningful to Hoffman.

The initial service offerings include training and site application to support the concepts learned. The current classes include Lean Six Sigma Yellow, Green and Black Belt classes. The classes can be held either at independent training sites local to specific health systems or at SRHE’s state of the art training facility. Additionally, SRHE and CBS can both customize the training and develop an implementation process designed to meet the needs of each hospital or health system. The Lean Six Sigma classes are interactive with a blend of lecture and application to reinforce the materials presented.

Collectively, SRHE and CBS’s over 60 core team members have been delivering Lean Six Sigma training and services to industry and health care organizations for over 20 years. These services have yielded hundreds of millions of dollars in savings and created a force of over 1,500 trained associates in the SHRE healthcare network alone.

November 2019

Lean in action at Salina Regional Health Center

Peering over plastic recycling bins outside Salina Regional Health Center, a proud grin decorates the face of the Rev. Noni Strand. Days later, in a basement conference room, she guides her Green Gurus in transforming normally discarded polypropylene wraps, used in surgery, into everything from water-resistant shopping bags to sleeping mats and hooded rain ponchos.
Read more from the Salina Journal

August 2019

Hard to believe it but we are already starting to think about our plans for 2020! 2020 will be here before you know it and we want to hit the end of 2019 on a high note. 2019 has been something of a banner year. Earlier this year, we opened our Green and Yellow Belt training to the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce and hosted around 100 students from all across the area. This has proven to be a great learning opportunity for our own SRHC students. We also have hosted students from as far south as Wellington, KS, and as far west as Gove County (great support from them!). SRHC’s results were also pretty impressive. We have trained 1,447 people (6 Green Belt classes and 10 Yellow Belt classes) so far and have verifiable savings in the range of $18.5M as a result of 1,176 projects. SRHC is on track to hit the $20M mark by the end of the year! Thanks to everyone for making this happen.

We could have some big changes next year. SRHC is in the early negotiation phase with a large, east coast, consulting company that, if successful, will open our training up to the central part of the U.S. (roughly CMS Region 7). This will form the basis for our transition from the SRHC Lean Academy to the Salina Regional Institute (SRI). So, if you see some new faces in our cafeteria, you’ll know what’s happening.

As always, all SRHC employees are expected and empowered to make improvements in their areas. Spending 10% of your day in Kaizen (small changes for the better) is not unreasonable. Be sure to capture your improvements in our excellent Lean Tracker and use the A3/PDCA method for solving those difficult problems.

January 23, 2019

Lean Academy at Salina Regional Health Center was pleased to have a full Yellow Belt class of representatives from Kansas businesses, hospitals and clinics on Wednesday despite the winter weather. Lean Manufacturing, Lean Production, or simply Lean is a methodology that focuses on eliminating waste and improving processes in order to create more value for customers.

“A majority of our participants have been hospital employees or come from the health care field,” said Brian Weisel, Quality Improvement Director for Salina Regional Health Center. “But the principles of Lean are universally applicable. It doesn’t matter if you’re baking bread, manufacturing automobiles, providing a service or taking care of patients. Eliminating waste in our processes and pursuing perfection by making continuous improvements cuts across all business sectors.”

Lean strategies have yielded impressive results over the years, and through a partnership with the Sunflower Health Network and the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce, SRHC’s Lean Academy is excited to benefit a wider audience. To learn more about Salina Regional Health Center’s Lean curriculum and course schedules, visit

June 26, 2018

Your Kaizen Promotion Office recently started offering a series of “Lean Lunch and Learn (LL&L)” sessions. We plan on having one of these LL&L’s each month with topics that, while not always straight up Lean, are definitely topics of interest to you and me. LL&Ls are topics that we think you might find interesting. We also understand that many SRHC employees only get a 30 minute lunch break, so the class moves along pretty fast. We will try to get you out by 1230. The first LL&L was titled “10 Strategies for Effective Learning” which was well attended. The second LL&L topic was “10 Tips for Managing Conflict in the Workplace.” This LL&L was exceptionally well attended with overflow going into Conference Room 5. Thanks to everyone for attending and thanks for your patience with our quick room change.

We have a number of new topics to present and are VERY happy to announce that our COO, Mr. Joel Phelps, has offered to present on October 22nd on the interesting topic of “Innovation”. We are also anticipating having members of the Leadership Development Institute pitch a few of these classes.

Coming at us very soon (Sept and Oct) is the Central Plains Expo where we will give a four-hour intro to Lean. One day will be in Salina and the other in Wichita. Looking forward to speaking to this great group (this is a return visit for us).

SRHC is showing that it is a friend of Salina and Saline County by offering free Lean training to all members of the Salina Chamber of Commerce. This is an incredibly generous offer on the part of SRHC and details are still being ironed out. If this happens as we hope, SRHC’s commitment to Lean will grow across the entire city and maybe even the county.

Salina Regional Health Center (SRHC) is proud to announce the achievement of two significant milestones aimed at improving patient care and achieving the perfect patient experience. In February 2013, SRHC began its implementation of the Salina Regional Production System (SRPS) based on the Toyota Production System and the “Toyota Way.” Since then, SRHC has developed an SRHC Lean Academy, Lean Learning Center, and the Kaizen Promotion Office (KPO). The KPO leads the training effort to help SRHC employees understand and use SRPS principles, tools, and techniques. As of (DATE), SRHC has trained 1,100 people from all across Kansas as Lean Green Belts or Lean Yellow Belts for a total investment of 15,410 hours of training. Students come primarily from SRHC but have included non-SRHC students from as far south as Ark City. We have even had students from Topeka and the Kansas State government! SRHC Lean training, coaching, and consulting is open to the public at very competitive rates.

The second major milestone is the number of projects executed by SRHC employees. SRHC Green and Yellow Belts have executed 1,000 Lean projects which have improved patient care quality, improved efficiency and conserved the value-added component of the services we provide our patients. These projects also ensure that SRHC will be able to provide the best quality service for well into the future.

Join with us in celebrating the great work of all SRHC employees and the SRHC Kaizen Promotion Office.

November 28, 2017

Your Kaizen Promotion Office is wrapping up the 2017 academic year on a strong note. We now have 268 Green Belt graduates and a whopping 747 Yellow Belt graduates for a total of 1,015 graduates. A big congratulations and thanks to everyone who has taken the initiative to learn about Kaizen and the Salina Regional Production System. While Lean is not straight up about money, it is good to know about our success with projects. As of today, we have 240 projects working, 13 projects in to our CPA for validation, and 495 completed projects. These projects have saved SRHC over $13.24 million dollars. That’s right, $13+ million saved through the diligent application of Lean principles!

Next year’s schedule will be pretty full, too. We have 4 waves of Green Belt training set up in our beautiful new Lean Learning Center. We plan on having 6 Yellow Belt training opportunities and with Yellow Belt and Green Belt classes at all our SRHC locations.

Remember that Lean is a philosophy, mindset, and a relatively small set of tools intended to improve the value added aspects of what we do for our patients, our customers, our friends, and ourselves. Lean will make your life easier! It is based on two underlying assumptions: Respect for everyone and the understanding that anything can be improved even if just a little.

January 26, 2016

Your Kaizen Promotion Office (KPO) has gotten off to a strong start in 2016. Toni Schlabach (our registrar) assures me that classes are filling rapidly. This is especially true for our Yellow Belt class where it is not unusual to have 20-30 people in the class.

We think this is great, too. Larger classes have more energy and are lots more fun than smaller classes. If you have to complete Yellow Belt as part of your annual objectives don’t wait until the end of the year since your desired class may be filled already.

Last week we had a terrific Lean Lunch and Learn that featured the work of ED nurses Ashly Doering and Rhea Andrews. They have a great project aimed at improving the process for dealing with children in the ED. As you might expect, many children coming to the ED are scared and maybe have an injury that requires an IV or a blood test of some kind.

Ashly and Rhea have developed multiple methods of taking the scare out of doing blood draws. Thanks to them our smallest patients will have a substantially better experience than they otherwise would have. The Lean Lunch and Learn was extremely well attended and we even had to bring in more chairs! Completely filled up Conference Center East!

Your KPO recently had a chance to meet some of the leadership at Cloud County Health Center (CCHC). Cherri Waites (CEO) and LeRoy Dickenson (COO) invited us up to Concordia to tell them about our Lean Transformation and find out what SRHC can do to help them execute a successful Lean rollout at CCHC. We had a great discussion and hope to be able to get up there on a regular basis to offer on-site Lean training and assistance as we move to full integration of SRHC and CCHC. Our Lean family is growing!

Wrapping things up: Sign up for YB or GB. Get on board the Lean transition and don’t get left behind. Do some projects. They don't have to be big. In fact, “Kaizen” means “small change for the better” so keep your projects small. Many small projects is what we want — improvements done at the lowest level of the organization using the knowledge and insight of the people closest to the work. Do it!

December 21, 2015

Congratulations to everyone who completed some kind of Lean training this year. We have over 635 people on the books as having either Yellow Belt (YB) or Green Belt (GB) training. This is a huge commitment by the SRHC organization. Before coming to SRHC I spent years as a management consultant working with many organizations, both profit and not for profit. I have yet to see an organization so thoroughly committed to improving what they do as SRHC. Lean was picked as the tool for process improvement because it is easy and straight forward. It also brings fast results through kaizen. Kaizen is small improvements made at the lowest level of the organization using the knowledge and insight of the people closes to the work. That is why it works — because workers typically have better insight into the problems and day-to-day issues than do managers. You are expected and authorized to make your work better.

We have changed Green Belt in a way that reduces Math Camp a little. The instructor (me) really enjoys Math Camp so it stays in the curriculum, but eliminates anything that experience shows will never be used by Green Belts in a healthcare environment. We have also added a couple modules that address team building and presentation skills. These modules are intended to hone your leadership skills. These modules also align very nicely with our newly developed Leadership Development Institute (LDI). If you have courseware that you think would be a good addition, please let us know.

Did you enjoy the Leadership Insight Series? I think everyone did. I’ve had lots of positive comments and want to thank all the people who either presented (all were excellent) and those who attended. It is really something that 60 SRHC employees would choose to give up an hour of their day to hear what our leaders think on the topic of leadership. Our Chief Operating Officer (COO), Joel Phelps, is the person who identifies the next speaker but I can, and do, make suggestions for his consideration. If there is someone you think might be a great speaker for the Leadership Insight Series, drop me a note and I’ll make sure Mr. Phelps sees your suggestion.

We continue to have outside interest in our GB and YB course offerings. We have had a few non-SRHC students and are developing good pull for our YB offering from as far away as Topeka. If you are not an employee of SRHC you will see that our course fees are extremely modest and designed to beat any comparables on the market. Plus, all instruction is done by an experienced Master Black Belt and includes coaching/mentoring as requested.

Next year will be as energetic as this year! 5 waves of GB training and 25 waves of YB training. We are planning for 500 new YBs and 50 new GBs in CY16. Plus, I have changed the topics for our Lean Lunch and Learns to keep them interesting and fresh. If you or your team wants to do a Lean Lunch and Learn, please let us know — it would be great.

June 30, 2015

We have had a great year so far! The Lean philosophy and mindset are taking hold here at SRHC in a meaningful way. By the end of the year 2015 we will have about 150 Green Belt academic graduates and 250+ Yellow Belts. That means more than 400 people in our organization will have had a significant immersion in Lean tools, techniques, and methods. We are seeing results, too. Our Lean Tracker currently shows about 185 Lean/A3 projects either in work or done. The $$ totals are pretty impressive, too. The Lean Tracker is available for everyone at SRHC to use to record their A3 type projects. Our friends in IT are working to release Lean Tracker 2.0 to make the Lean Tracker experience even better. While Lean is not specifically about saving money, it is sure nice to know that we have $434,435 in potential savings this year alone! Your Kaizen Promotion Office (KPO) has said all along that, while Lean is about improving our capacity to help our patients and make YOUR life easier, the return on investment will be very high, too.

Yellow Belt: For the rest of the calendar year we have lots of training opportunities for you and your team. Yellow Belt has taken off like a rocket and most of our classes are already filled. This is a fast moving, fun course that will give you Lean basics in one day. We regularly get positive student responses. If you want to get on board this year, contact Toni Schlabach to see which class best fits your schedule.

Green Belt: Once again, classes fill quickly so get with Toni and pick a class that best suits your schedule. Becoming a Green Belt is a significant career achievement and shouldn't be passed up. SRHC's Green Belt course has been pared and tailored to fit SRHC needs and requirements. There is only the minimum of mathematics that is needed to understand relatively simple Lean and Six Sigma concepts so don't be afraid. We think the course is fun and fast moving.

Something else that's coming up is SRHC's first "Lean in Action" symposium. We plan on providing training opportunities, poster presentations by ALL departments, and a guest speaker from Kansas City's KU School of Medicine. This will be held on 30 September and want everyone to attend.

Salina Regional Production System Growing

February 23, 2015

We have had a solid start to the new year with many signups. We have already had almost 80 Yellow Belt grads and we expect that they will go on to do great things for the organization. I just checked our new Lean Tracker and we’ve added dozens and dozens of new projects since the start of the new year! Thanks everyone! That means the Lean rollout continues unabated and also means – most importantly – that Lean and the Salina Regional Production System (SRPS) is becoming simply the way we do business here at SRHC. Keep up the great work! We are having a rerun of the Toast Kaizen video for Friday’s Lean Lunch and Learn and hope to see you there.

Brian M. Weisel, MPA, MPS, MA, MBB
Director, Quality Improvement/Lean
(785) 452-7094

2015 Off to a Great Start

January 29, 2015

Great first month for your 2015 Lean rollout! As we head into Year 3 of our Lean/Salina Regional Production System rollout we can be very happy with what we have accomplished. We have had 118 people go through our Green Belt (GB) program that was taught in three different locations. In 2014 alone, we taught 86 courses to 276 students. These people have helped SRHC save/avoid over $650,000 in waste by executing approximately 140 projects. Great accomplishment! Now we have added a new Yellow Belt (YB) program that lays out Lean principles in a compact, fun, 8 hour session. In fact, we have had 30 YB graduates already! Dr. Alan Wedel and his staff took the course and so did our Salina Surgical Associates physicians and their staffs. The YB program is a great lead in to our more robust GB course.

We also have, thanks to the great work of our friends in IT, a new method for tracking projects in real time. Check out the “Lean Project Tracker” and see how well your department is represented. No project yet? Start one today! Your Kaizen Promotion Office (KPO) is happy to help you do this. It will be fun to see which Departments have the most and best projects. Let’s get a little competition going!

We continue to get great pull for GB and YB training, so don’t delay contacting Toni Schlabach to get a seat in one of our classes. We are also getting some new instructors who will bring different viewpoints and perspectives to our courseware. It’s all good!

Brian M. Weisel, MPA, MPS, MA, MBB
Director, Quality Improvement/Lean
(785) 452-7094

Busy Week Includes Yellow Belt & Green Belt Trainings

January 22, 2015

This has been a busy week for your Kaizen Promotion Office (KPO). We had a great Yellow Belt (YB) training session on Tuesday that was very well attended. Plus, all the students actively participated in the exercises which is what really makes the YB course fun. The YB course starts with Lean 101 and then goes on to the Toast Kaizen movie which our students really enjoy. Then we do the “A3 Thinking” class which gets everyone up and moving around. After a short lunch we launch into process mapping and process improvements. All this sets the stage for a fun exercise called “Alphabet Soup” which is actually a transactional simulation. Lots of fun!

Your KPO also had day 2 of our Green Belt (GB) program. This class, at 8 students, is a little smaller than we would prefer, but that means we can be more attentive to student needs and wants. We have moved GB training out of the little closet we had been in over the last 2 years and are now using the much nicer conference rooms.

Good news for your KPO is that Administration has approved our request for a new, permanent classroom. The new classroom will be located in the basement of the Santa Fe Medical Arts Building (SMAB). This will be a really nice classroom dedicated to your KPO. You won’t hear the sewage injection pump cycling every few minutes! It is really amazing that 120 GB students went through the GB course in the little GB training room!

I just received a call from Norma at the Norton County Hospital and she wants your KPO to make a presentation at the KPAM Spring Workshop on May 1st of this year. That will give us the opportunity to continue spreading the word about Lean in healthcare. In fact, one of our current GB students is from outside SRHC and drives up every Wednesday for GB class. I think we are on the cusp of being able to really sell our SRHC Lean competencies outside our four walls.

If you have any comments or blog posts, feel free to pass them on to Julia Lankhorst.

Brian M. Weisel, MPA, MPS, MA, MBB
Director, Quality Improvement/Lean
(785) 452-7094