New technology gains recognition for St. Clair Hospital

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Nursing has changed a lot since Barbara Girod began her career 40 years ago.

Things were much simpler then, she said. Today, there are countless more responsibilities and more things to remember.

"And I know that your brain cannot handle that much stuff," said Ms. Girod, a chief administrator in the nursing services department at St. Clair Hospital. "There's no way the person can do everything they need to do without assistance."

As such, nurses at St. Clair are getting a helping hand with a new electronic "status board" in the hospital's medical/surgical unit.

The board, installed in the unit earlier this year, keeps nurses, doctors and other personnel abreast of each patient's condition, attending physicians, discharge status, potential risks, length at location and more.

Personnel update the board, usually from their work laptops, then other medical/surgical employees can view those changes on the 32-inch board in the nurse's station. They can also see changes on their own computers. It updates every 60 seconds.

For nurses, it streamlines the work day and prevents them from traveling back and forth to update multiple people about a single patient.

"Before, we'd have to search for the nurse to find out where did this patient go, where are they?" Ms. Girod said. "It doesn't depend on verbal communication, phone calls or messages."

For patients, it provides peace of mind that they're getting the care they deserve with less potential for human error, nurses say.

"It ensures quality patient care," said Kristie Joos, nurse manager in the hospital's medical/surgical unit.

She said the board has also improved patient flow there.

Technologies like these likely helped St. Clair earn one of Hospital and Health Networks Magazine's honors for "Most Wired" health systems in 2012.

The magazine, published by the American Hospital Association, makes its selection based on progress in adoption, implementation and use of information technology in infrastructure, business and administrative management, clinical quality and safety, and in multiple clinical settings.

Nearly 1,600 health systems applied for the recognition this year, and St. Clair was among the 154 selected.

This status board is based on the emergency room and observation status boards but was "tweaked it a little bit to kind of meet our needs," Ms. Joos said.

Officials at St. Clair hope to soon offer the board in other nursing units, possibly coordinated with other hospital technologies.

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Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1944.


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