Trinitas Regional Medical Center, a full-service healthcare facility serving Central New Jersey, is taking a novel approach to protecting its staff from combative patients, utilizing a Real-time Locating System (RTLS) from Versus Technology, Inc.
RTLS, commonly used for asset and patient tracking in hospitals, was selected by Trinitas first and foremost to enhance their safety protocols, according to Security Director John Dougherty. “Our main goal and objective was to improve the security and safety of our staff.”
Versus’ Visibility™ Staff Assist solution, provided through Maffey’s Security Group, the local Versus Certified System Integrator and Trinitas’ security vendor of more than 50 years, provides location-aware badges for caregivers. By pressing the badge button, staff can immediately summon help to their location.
The need for enhanced security in healthcare is made plain by the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey. It found 10 percent of all workplace violence victims worked in medical occupations, behind only law enforcement and retail. Further, a 2011 survey by the Emergency Nurses Association found 55 percent of nurses experienced physical or verbal abuse during a seven-day period.
According to Dougherty, “Many of our staff work in areas where they are sometimes alone with volatile patients. Previously, if a nurse needed help, she wouldn’t be able to get it right way. But by pushing their badge button, not only does it alert other people, but it also shows the nurse’s location.”
Trinitas first implemented the Staff Assist system in its Emergency Department in February of 2013. ED staff can push their badge buttons to summon help for medical emergencies (for example, to help with a patient in cardiac arrest), or to request a Code Gray (combative patient or visitor).
Trinitas has since expanded the system into its inpatient and outpatient psychiatric units, as well as its drug abuse counseling facility. A button-push in these areas immediately triggers a Code Gray response. Implementation in the Med/Surg unit, which sometimes houses psychiatric patients, is on the horizon.
Combined, more than 200 Trinitas physicians, RNs, LPNs, and technicians wear Versus badges.
Denise Loneker, RN, CEN, Nurse Manager in Trinitas’ emergency department appreciates the security Staff Assist provides. “Before, I had nothing to alert my coworkers if I was in trouble, but now I have this badge. It helps improve morale in the ED, knowing that help is just a button-push away.”
Dougherty suspects the Staff Assist system may also show a certain amount of hard ROI. “We’re always going to have our Code Grays, but Staff Assist may cut down on actual physical assault, because of improved response times.” Dougherty indicates comparing lost time from work due to violent assault before and after implementing Staff Assist might be one way to determine a return on investment.
“But quite frankly,” Dougherty says, “This is about providing peace of mind to our staff.”