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A Life in Safety

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When Alice Cooper, RN, heard about new equipment that could keep patients safer and reduce injuries to staff, she became a strong advocate of the hospital’s No Lift Program.

The program, which required the purchase of special lift equipment and staff training, has reduced injuries to the back, neck, and shoulder strains and sprains related to direct patient care by more than 50 percent in the first year. “The No Lift Program has been one of our most successful safety programs,” said Cooper. Before installation of the new equipment, Cooper’s unit had the highest number of worker injuries reported at Willamette Valley Medical Center, mostly strains from lifting patients. “From the moment I learned about the program I knew it could make a real difference,” said Cooper. “Over the years I’ve seen too many employees with back injuries they would carry into retirement from doing the work they love. After we purchased the lift and transfer equipment, we saw an immediate reduction in injuries.” The new equipment was necessary in order to fulfill the hospital’s goal of creating a No Lift Environment where nurses and staff use assistive, mechanical lifting equipment when moving, transferring or lifting patients. Using the equipment reduces the risk of injury and reduces strain on the caregiver’s body. In addition to reducing employee injuries, the new No Lift Environment promotes patient comfort and reduces patient falls. “We know that our nurses are vital to the top quality care we provide to our patients,” said Patricia Angelucci, DNS, Chief Nursing Officer. “We also realize that with the type of work they do, they are at risk of injury. Nationally, 45 percent of nurse(?) work-related injuries are caused by overexertion or musculoskeletal injury, mainly from lifting patients. This new program is a safer way to perform their work and offers greater patient safety. “Working together with the hospital’s Nursing Leadership Group and Occupational Health, Cooper oversaw the purchase of seven ceiling lifts in the Medical Surgery Unit, one ceiling lift in the Intensive Care Unit, a sit-to-stand device, a transfer chair and an electric vertical lift. In addition to training, a No Lift Fair was held last summer to educate the staff on this important new program. The Patient Care Council is currently studying how the program might be expanded. In our new area all additional 22 rooms are equipped with ceiling lifts and the Emergency Department is equipped with two additional units. According to Angelucci, the No Lift Program and the hospital’s long-term commitment to it is “one more example of how the hospital is proactive in meeting our mission of service, safety and excellence.”

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