ANMC initiative helps hospital staff handle with care | Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium

ANMC initiative helps hospital staff handle with care

June 16, 2017

The single greatest risk factor for overexertion injuries among health care workers is the manual lifting, moving and repositioning of patients. Health care workers at ANMC are no exception, and we are implementing solutions to protect staff and improve patient care.

Our multidisciplinary Safe Patient Handling and Mobility team works to develop effective solutions to reduce employee injuries and their associated costs. The team includes representatives from Nursing, Safety, Institutional Environmental Health, Risk Management, Security, Patient Transport, Physical Therapy, Strategic Access and Biomedical Engineering.

“Our team relies on input from all stakeholders to develop a well-thought-out plan to address patient handling needs on campus,” said Katie Hubbard, Institutional Environmental Health Consultant and member of the Safe Patient Handling and Mobility team. “We want to demonstrate that the up-front investment in patient lift equipment will result in a return on investment from a reduction in staff injuries and associated costs.”

To effectively address patient handling and mobility needs at ANMC, our Safe Patient Handling and Mobility team works with nursing managers and patient care staff to conduct Patient Handling and Movement Assessments. After the assessment is complete, the team makes recommendations for patient lift equipment and representatives from the nursing staff evaluate and select equipment suitable for their space.

Pedro Melgar, Clinical Nurse Manager in the Critical Care Unit (CCU), was instrumental in getting ceiling lifts installed on his unit.

“I really believe that our lifts in CCU increase employee satisfaction and create a safer work environment,” Melgar said. “We hope this will create a new norm in patient care and safety.”

Improvements to patient handling and mobility are considered when our Strategic Access department starts planning for a renovation, relocation or construction project related to patient care, integrating plans into construction from the beginning.

“The end goal of all of our campus improvement projects is to create spaces that are meeting our patient and staff needs for a better future,” said Julia Suver, Director of Campus Planning. “Incorporating patient handling systems is an integral part of making spaces that are easier and safer to care for patients at ANMC.”

ANMC currently has nine ceiling-mounted patient lifts (including one bariatric lift rated up to 1,100 pounds), located in the Flex Unit, Critical Care Unit, Internal Medicine Clinic, Podiatry Clinic and Dermatology Clinic. The Infusion Center and Oncology Clinic will soon have a floor-based mobile patient lift, in addition to the two mobile lifts in CCU and the fourth and fifth floor inpatient units. Our Auxiliary purchased four stand-assist devices that can be used throughout ANMC.

“It is important for our patients to feel a sense of independence and to feel safe when they need to navigate their rooms or transfer from the bedside to a wheelchair,” Auxiliary Patient Services Coordinator Roberta Miljure said.

The feedback from staff on using the patient handling equipment has been overwhelmingly positive. Our safe patient handling and mobility initiative not only helps prevent injuries to staff and patients, but also improves the quality of care we provide to our patients.

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