On January 1, 2017, the final phase of New York State’s Safe Patient Handling (SPH) law went into effect. All facilities should have SPH policies in place and be moving toward the goal of reducing high rates of occupational injury.
“Safe patient handling is an ongoing process,” said Kelly Moed, RN, Staten Island University Hospital/Northwell. Moed, a nationally-recognized authority and pioneer in SPH advocacy, is the sole individual within the entire Northwell system of 21 hospitals with national SPH certification. She has been working with both the Northwell Health Workforce Safety Team and the SIUH SPH Committee, which she co-chairs, to bring all 21 hospitals up to the highest standard of safety for nurses, other caregivers and patients.
Making it work
The two key components to a successful SPH program, according to Moed, are the involvement of front-line staff and administrative understanding of its substantial economic benefits. “At SIUH, management actually seeks out frontline staff input and understands that the cost of purchasing equipment is small when compared with the dollars saved,” said Moed. Since implementing its SPH program in 2006, SIUH has seen a 60% reduction in work-related injuries.
Northwell Health holds monthly system-wide SPH meetings with its facility co-chairs (administrative and front-line). The results have been promising and highly constructive, including the creation of a new department to oversee planning and implementation. “These meetings are so collaborative,” Moed said. “We discuss problems, bounce ideas off one another, and come up with some really innovative solutions — like our latest ideas for online training, an upcoming vendor fair for all Northwell facilities, and a mobile training van that will provide on-site SPH demos and training.”
Mary Brandt and Eileen Lappin, both RNs at SIUH, were sponsored by NYSNA to attend last fall’s Zero Lift conference in Buffalo, where they learned about the latest state-of-the-art gear and attended training. “We saw two pieces of equipment that we thought we could use at SIUH: a bariatric stretcher and an ergonomic wheelchair. We took the information back to our committee for evaluation, and we’re about to begin a month-long trial of the bariatric stretcher in radiology, surgery, and the emergency room,” said Lappin.
Accessing expert resources
Brandt attended a Zero Lift workshop on how to assess need and buy equipment, and came away better informed: “When you see all of the equipment at these vendor events, it’s easy to see how every single piece could be of use. But the workshop helped us figure out what was most practical for our units based on things like floor layout, storage capacity and other logistical factors.”
Finding the best solutions
SIUH kicked off 2017 with a meeting between frontline staff and administrative staff to review progress and identify problem areas. “We found we were short on supplies and equipment for handling our growing bariatric population. But because that area’s census fluctuates, it didn’t necessarily make sense to purchase equipment that would not get regular use. We found a workable solution in renting certain equipment,” said Moed.
SIUH’s NYSNA members are very pleased that SPH is such a high priority for everyone at their hospital. Says Moed: “We’re glad that Northwell has seen the light on SPH.”