Grant Program Encourages Innovation and Creativity Among Nurses and Staff

Idea grant---group
Recipients of one of the two 2016 IDEA grants – (from left) Jeanette Livelo, Dominic Breuer, Paul Currier, and Lillian Ananian

What does a device that helps to keep patients stable when using the bathroom have in common with a chart that tracks the days since the last infection in the intensive care unit?

These projects were the first recipients of the Innovation Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) at Massachusetts General Hospital last year.

The IDEA grant program was established in 2016 as a way to foster innovative ideas that improve the way care is delivered for patients and families. The program was such a success in its first year that a new call for proposals will open next month.

IDEA grants provide opportunities for nurses and other health professionals in Nursing & Patient Care Services (NPCS) to think creatively about issues they encounter on a daily basis, and how the workarounds they utilize could be applied in a larger context. Jeanette Ives Erickson, RN, DNP, NEA-BC, FAAN, Chief Nurse and Senior Vice President for Patient Care, spearheaded  development of the program with generous funding from Norman Knight and Kathleen and Ralph Verni.

The first call for IDEA grant proposals went out in August 2016. In its inaugural year, the program received 22 applications and awarded two grants of up to $5,000.   Successful proposals must include measurable outcomes and have a high likelihood of making a significant, sustainable difference in practice, either now or in the future.

Gaurdia Banister, RN, PhD, NEA-BC, FAAN, Executive Director, The Institute for Patient Care & Marianne Ditomassi, RN, DNP, MBA, NEA-BC, Director of the Yvonne L. Munn Center for Nursing Research and Executive Director of Patient Care Services co-chaired the IDEA Steering Committee, which made final recommendations for award selection and worked to develop this new program.

Idea grant---Jared Jordan
Jared Jordan

The first award went to neuroscience staff nurse Jared Jordan, RN, for his idea for a specialized device that assists patients using the bathroom. Recognizing that falls were a big safety hazard among patients, he came up with the concept for a harness that would stabilize a patient while toileting. With support from the IDEA award, Jordan is developing a prototype of the device.

The second award went to the team of Lillian Ananian, RN, Jeanette Livelo, RN, Paul Currier, MD, and Dominic Breuer in the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU).

To address the issue of higher than average rates of central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) in the MICU, the team implemented a CLABSI flipchart. They drew inspiration from flipcharts typically used in industrial engineering to measure metrics such as the number of days since the last defect in the product line.

Implemented in a medical setting, the CLABSI flipchart visually measures the number of days since the last infection. Grant funding was used to evaluate how implementing the flipchart impacted the unit’s staff culture and patient care.

The call for applications for the 2018 IDEA Grant program is now open. All employees working in Nursing and Patient Care Services are invited to submit proposals containing innovative id

You can find the application online here:

Any questions can be directed to Mary Ellin Smith, RN, at

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