ALBANY -- With the ribbon-cutting of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital's centennial museum on Sunday, there is something else on the horizon officials say the hospital's patient base will benefit from.
In an effort to "create a culture of safety," Phoebe is instituting a falls reduction initiative at its main campus as well as at Phoebe North on Palmyra Road.
Thomas Calabro, patient safety officer for Phoebe Putney Health System, introduced the concept, to be known as the "Get a Grip" campaign, to the hospital board on Wednesday.
Calabro said Phoebe is within the range or better of the current industry leader benchmark, which is 2.5-3.5 falls per 1,000 patient days. The ultimate goal is for Phoebe to be among the top 10 percent of hospitals in the country in this area, he said.
"We have been directed to find a way to make things safe," he said.
As part of the effort, both Albany hospitals have gone live with the "No Passing Zone" concept. Now, every member of the hospital staff is expected to answer a patient's call light anytime they see one or hear a call for help.
"That's their (the patients') lifeline to the rest of the hospital community," Calabro said of the call button. "It may be an urgent need, or not so urgent, but we don't want to risk taking a guess."
Regardless of the department the staff member works in, he is expected to stop, knock on the patient's door, introduce himself and ask if the patient needs anything. The concept went live Monday.
Staff is expected to check on patients hourly during the day and every two hours at night, Calabro said. During staff rounds, it is expected that patients be asked about restroom needs, positioning, pain or needed retrieval of objects -- among the things considered to be the main causes of patient falls.
The "Get a Grip" campaign will start April 2. It will include fall prevention tips throughout the hospital, identifiers for falls risk patients, new tools to assess a patient's fall risk and fall prevention tips through public service announcements, publications and Phoebe's website.
Consequently, April 2 has been dubbed "April Falls Day" at Phoebe. The messages being promoted as part of the campaign will feature puppets made from the non-skid socks patients wear to avoid slipping.
Due to the high prevalence and associated adverse outcomes nationally, the Joint Commission incorporated falls in the National Patient Safety Goals to reduce the risk of patient injuries, Calabro said. In 2008, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services designated falls as a hospital-acquired condition.
In other business, the hospital board approved Phoebe's Form 990 -- which had been recommended for approval by the finance committee earlier that day. It is expected to be filed and on the hospital's website in the next few days.