About the Behavioral Health Unit:
Multiple RTLS Applications:
According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey conducted 2005 to 2009, mental health occupations had one of the highest rates of workplace violence, second only to law enforcement.
The Behavioral Health Unit (BHU) at Western Maryland Health System (WMHS) places a high priority on both patient and staff safety. Like any BHU, they faced multiple challenges:
When building its new medical center in 2009, WMHS researched several options to enhance patient safety and minimize the risk of elopement.
“We selected the RTLS from Versus Technology because it was the most cost effective and efficient way to address our challenges,” says Jeffrey D. O’Neal, LCPC, System Director for WMHS’ Behavioral and Occupational Health Services departments.
The Real-time Locating System (RTLS) was installed throughout the BHU, and also in strategic places in the rest of the hospital for patient and asset tracking.
Simple visibility, displaying the locations of patients and assets on the Versus Enterprise View™ Floorplan, improved staff efficiency, says O’Neal. Patients are easily found for suicide precaution rounding, and staff no longer spend valuable time away from patients searching for equipment.
Additionally, the BHU is able to receive notifications when a possible elopement may be taking place. Using the Versus Rules Engine™ and NetPage Bridge, the system sends alerts to computers and Ascom phones whenever a patient is sensed too close to an egress area.
Since the addition of RTLS, patient elopements have been reduced by 100%.
“The thing that has impressed me the most is how accurate the system is,” O’Neal says. “We’ve had patients who have tried leaving the behavioral health unit, and with the alerts, we’re always able to intercept the patient right in the main hall. We have not had any elopements from our unit since we started using Versus. From a safety perspective, that’s huge.”
Because of initial success with RTLS, WMHS opted to expand its features, adding Versus Visibility™ Staff Assist — a mobile, location-aware call button for staff.
Prior to implementing, staff would manually use their portable phones to dial #33 and speak to a call center operator to request a Code Green (combative situation). “Volatile situations sometimes make this difficult or even impossible,” says O’Neal.
Now, if staff feel threatened, they press the button on their Versus badge. An immediate message is sent to the hospital call center, security and select computers on the BHU.
The call center immediately initiates a Code Green, and thanks to RTLS, they can direct responders to the exact location of the person needing assistance.
Since the implementation of Staff Assist, average response time to combative situations has improved 67% — from 12 to 4 minutes.
Did you know?
A 2011 survey by the Emergency Nurses Association found panic buttons to be one of the only environmental measures associated with a lower rate of workplace violence in healthcare.
BHU staff members feel the system has not only improved safety, but also morale. “Working in the behavioral health unit can be stressful,” says Vicki Svensson, RN, nurse manager. “Knowing that our hospital places priority on our safety, and gives us a way to call for help, really helps ease our minds as we care for our patients.”
Western Maryland Health System (WMHS) in Cumberland provides a wide range of healthcare services along the continuum of care for residents in Allegany and Garrett Counties in Maryland and surrounding counties in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. WMHS includes the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center, a 275-bed facility that opened in November 2009. Other components include a nursing home, outpatient diagnostic centers, and a network of urgent care clinics, primary care centers and physician practices.