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Q&A with Jennifer Woods of McLaren Northern Michigan

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | November 19, 2021
From the November 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

HCB News: A new hospital wing just opened — how long was the process from planning to opening and what was the catalyst?
JW: It is a multi-year, multi-phased project. Being with the organization as long as I have, I was able to be part of the original discussions about what our Board envisioned for our community and what we needed to enhance our services. It was probably 2015 when we first started discussions and vetting industry partners for the construction and renovation and what our future would look like.

Over the years, we’ve invested in infrastructure, but we got to the point where the ongoing investment was better spent on larger scale improvements that would correct long-standing issues, such as dual occupancy rooms. We talked with the board about enhancing services, improving the patient experience, increase privacy and comfort — which has been more emphasized during the pandemic. We also had goals to decrease noise in the environment to create an environment focused on health and healing. Noise was a factor, clutter was a factor. Our board recognized these issues. The other priority was for our care team, making sure they have a safe work environment is also incredibly important. We wanted to make sure we gave our teams a modern environment that would enhance their ability to do their best work.

We are achieving our goals through a major renovation and expansion project. We just finished our expansion phase, adding a new four-story, 182,000 square-foot wing that opened in August. We are beginning the final phase, a renovation of 70,000 square feet of our existing hospital.

Part of this project also included smart technology to enhance communication and safety. We equipped all the rooms with an i-bed, electronic white board, Medisign, and bedside patient tablet. Our staff is using the Vocera Smartbadge for no-touch, voice-controlled communications. Next, we worked with our partners to create interfaces between the different systems to create a technologically advanced in-room experience for patients. For example, when a fall risk patient is trying to get out of bed, the i-bed sends an alert to the electronic white board that can verbally tell the patient to stay in bed, the Medisign outside the door flashes an alert for nearby staff to see, and the patient’s nurse is sent a message on their Vocera badge.

HCB News: Let’s talk a little bit more about the improvements in communications.
JW: There are several features with the no-touch communications. What we really liked about the no-touch is you can carry or wear a device that allows you to speak what you need, it just expedites the communications. Through an intelligent hierarchy, you can get to the right person in the right role. For example, if I’m a nurse in a room providing care, I can simply ask for the pharmacist caring for the patient in 101. Or I can ask for the transporter who’s helping with Level II South. I can ask by name, or role assigned, or position, which gets me to who I need almost immediately. In the old days, you’d have to connect with an operator, use your phone and break out of your protective equipment in order to handle the phone to make those calls. The workflow is expedited with the wearable badge.

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