Local hospitals using hands-free device to communicate

Local hospitals using hands-free device to communicate

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Healthcare workers are on the front lines of all of the coronavirus pandemic, testing and treating patients.

As people continue to find ways to get personal protective gear to that front line, a communication device is helping local doctors and nurses keep safe. It’s a device similar to an Amazon Alexa or Siri, called Vocera.

The device allows healthcare workers to communicate in real time and doesn’t require them to take off the personal protective gear. Local hospitals, including UofL Hospital and Hardin Memorial Hospital, use them.

“It’s really been a game changer for us just everyday emergency department life,” Deanna Parker, assistant vice president of emergency services at Hardin Memorial Health, said.

Hardin Memorial Health started using Vocera about a year and a half ago after expanding their emergency department from 27 rooms to 65 rooms.

The small badge hangs on the lanyards of nurses, doctors and security staff. Healthcare workers can be paged through the device and respond through it immediately.

“Right now, in the midst of a little bit of extra tension and stress, and concern and processes changing practically daily and a lot of isolation materials on and personal protective equipment, it’s extremely helpful because we are still able to communicate in real time our patient needs with one another,” Parker said.

With the coronavirus pandemic, hospitals are busier than ever.

"It allows them to communicate hands free so they can wear it under their personal protective equipment," Dr. Ben Kanter, Vocera Communications Chief Medical Information Officer, said.

Dr. Kanter was a pulmonary doctor for 25 years. He said he understands the importance of this device in helping nurses and doctors doing their jobs while also keeping them safe.

“Every time you take off your personal protective gear, there’s a chance you’re going to self contaminate,” Dr. Kanter said. “You shouldn’t have to risk contamination to do communication. So if we can let you stay protected, stay garbed, then even a simple act of using a phone, which might have been risky for you or for others, you don’t have to do that anymore.”

Parker said the device has been a big help in protecting both patients and healthcare workers.

“It’s really great safety feature not only for patients but for staff,” Parker said. “If they are in a room and they need help, they have the ability to without having to leave a room request assistance. Or if there were security concerns we have the ability to work all of that in with our workflow.”

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