July 10, 2008

New Technology Benefits Patients

By Jennifer L. Boen, The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Jul. 10--Nurses at Parkview North Hospital's new $5 million medical/surgical unit are letting their voices, not their fingers or feet, do the walking.

If a patient needs help and presses the bedside call button, nurses and unit assistants are immediately notified through a wireless communication system, one of several new technologies and features in the unit, which opened June 16 and has 28 private beds.

That's nine more than were available previously to medical and surgical patients.

"This new unit demonstrates Parkview's commitment to developing innovative programs to assist patients and their families," said Sue Ehinger, chief operating officer for Parkview Hospital.

Medical staff in the area wear "voice badges" around their necks. When a patient presses the call button, the system alerts the nurse closest to the patient. Using the system, the nurse can ask the patient what is needed and respond. If that nurse is busy, the call automatically goes to the next-closest person. All calls are also received at the central nurses' station.

Before entering the patient's room, the nurse knows what the patient needs and whether a nurse or unit assistant is most appropriate.

"It avoids a lot of extra steps," said Judy Boerger, senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Parkview Health. Through additional "smart bed" technology, an alarm is sent to the badge when a patient at risk of falling gets out of bed without assistance. Patients can even be weighed in their beds by internal scales. One room has a mobile ceiling lift that can transport a patient weighing up to 1,000 pounds from bed to the bathroom or a chair.

An automated system now tracks supplies. If a patient needs intravenous tubing, for example, the nurse scans the item, a process that also is used for billing purposes.

"A lot of this was done by unit staff before," said Tyra Watson, clinical manager for the unit.

Other parts of the hospital are growing, too. Parkview Women's and Children's Hospital, part of Parkview North, opened in January at a cost of $20 million. Ground will be broken later this year on what will be the nearly $500 million, 430-bed Parkview Regional Medical Center adjacent to and comprising the existing Parkview North. When that nine-story hospital is completed in about three years, the new medical/surgical unit may remain as is or it may be used for other patient needs, Boerger said.

Parkview North's medical surgical admissions increased from 502 in 2005 to 603 last year. In the first five months of this year, 319 people were admitted.

While Parkview moves much of its operations to Parkview North at Dupont Road and Interstate 69, the Randallia Drive site is seeing its own renovations and new programs. Hospital officials announced Wednesday they plan to open a new 12-bed unit for congestive heart failure patients in September on the second floor of the hospital adjacent to the heart institute, which will eventually become a small hospital with 24/7 emergency care. Heart care will then move to Parkview North.

Congestive heart failure patients comprised the largest segment of patients admitted last year to Parkview on Randallia, with more than 700 people treated, Boerger said.


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