August 11, 2005
Rosetta Thompson, RN, nurse manager of the MEDVAMC Spinal Cord Injury Care Line shows U.S. Army veteran Roger Evans how to operate the newly installed and enhanced nurse call system. "This is great. It’s like having a new toy. This new nurse call system is faster and better. I can talk to my nurse immediately whenever I need to," said Evans.
HOUSTON -Veteran inpatients at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) are now able to talk with their nurses anywhere, anytime simply by using a newly installed and enhanced nurse call system. Patients are able to relay their needs immediately and know a healthcare professional is simply a telephone call away.
As part of this enhanced nurse call system to increase patient safety and satisfaction, nurses are equipped with mobile telephones. The new system is being piloted on the Spinal Cord Injury Unit (SCI) where inpatients are most dependent. “The more dependent a patient is, the more useful the system is,” said Rosetta Thompson, RN, nurse manager, SCI.
Quadriplegic veterans, who are unable to move their arms or legs, use the system’s Environmental Control Unit that is mounted at their bedside. A small flat screen that resembles a television screen extends over the bed. Patients use a straw like tube to puff and sip air that changes the screen options. Once the patient selects the nurse call option, the assigned nurse’s mobile telephone will ring. When the nurse receives the call, the screen will show the patient’s room and bed number. This enhancement is especially beneficial for patients on ventilators. SCI veterans with hand function access the system through the hand-held nurse call system.
“This is great. It’s like having a new toy. This new nurse call system is faster and better. I can talk to my nurse immediately whenever I need to,” said Roger Evans, Army veteran and SCI patient.
With each shift change, a nurse will go to the main console and clear all telephone numbers assigned to the telephone he or she is using. The nurse then enters the room numbers of the patients assigned to him or her for that shift. If the nurse is unavailable for whatever reason, the telephone call will roll over to the main console at the nursing station.
“This is a great time saver. Patients talk with their nurses about their needs immediately. If I am with another patient, I will let the patient know that I will be with them as quickly as possible,” said Marion Mayo, LVN. “The system allows nursing staff to provide a higher level of patient care by relieving any anxiety the patient may have about nursing response time.”
The system is not complicated. Patients do not have to remember telephone numbers or wait to speak to their nurse. Communication is a key to increased patient satisfaction. The ability to reach their nurse immediately is reassuring and reduces anxiety.
“Technology has come so far in the last five years. The MEDVAMC has the patient lift system, Computerized Patient Record System, Bar Code Medication Administration, robotic couriers and now the enhanced nurse call system. This technology has helped our nursing staff provide a higher level of patient care, and increase our patient safety and satisfaction,” said Thompson.