Jefferson, Geisinger partner on discreet staff safety alert system

Philadelphia-based Jefferson Health has partnered with Geisinger in Danville, Pa., on a system to discreetly alert security when staff may be in danger.

The Strongline Staff Safety System was designed by nurses and security staff at Jefferson to issue quiet and timely alerts to security when an issue has the potential to escalate.

Bluetooth technology combines with a badge that identifies the location of the person triggering the alarm. The badges have small buttons for staff to discreetly push to avoid an escalating confrontation. When the button is pressed, a silent alarm goes off to alert nearby staff and team members as well as a security guard to dispatch assistance.

"Jefferson has been on a campaign of how new technologies and strategic partnerships can help us achieve our mission of improving lives," said Stephen Klasko, MD, president and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health. "We are constantly challenging our managers to look at how innovation can transform what we do. In this case, our head of security recognized that although patient and staff safety is our top priority, violence was escalating in patient rooms."

Jefferson implemented the technology at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital a year ago and has since extended it to six other hospitals; it aims to have the technology installed at all 14 of its acute care hospitals by the end of the year. At the facilities with Strongline, staff have activated the alert more than 150 a month in the last year, the hospital said.

Before implementing the system, the duress buttons that alerted security of a disturbance were hardwired into the nurse's stations, which were not always where confrontations occurred.

"Once we proved the ease, efficacy and nurse safety improvements at Jefferson, especially in the wake of the chaos of the pandemic, we looked for new partners that shared our common DNA with respect to vision, priorities and innovation," said Dr. Klasko. "Geisinger was a natural choice given their commitment to employee safety, innovation and commitment to excellence."

Jefferson and Geisinger have collaborated before, and this new partnership was a natural fit, according to Dr. Klasko.

"When we learned about this technology from Jefferson, we reached out to Strongline directly to understand more about it," said Janet Tomcavage, executive vice president and chief nursing executive at Geisinger. "Our staff's safety is a top priority at Geisinger, and this new technology presented a simple and cost-effective approach for that."

Geisinger piloted the technology at one of its smaller community hospitals and is now working on a plan to roll it out at all of its hospital campuses.

"We have seen an increase in aggressive behavior and feel this technology provides a solution to support our staff," said Ms. Tomcavage.

Dr. Klasko said Jefferson decided to use the technology amid the pandemic because hospitals have a responsibility to provide a safe work environment for all employees.

"We cannot provide quality patient care if our staff fear for their safety," he said. "Jefferson began working on this technology long before the pandemic began, but COVID-19 has made its necessity even more clear, as our caregivers have been on the front lines of this pandemic from day one. We are committed to demonstrating that we value their service and their safety by giving them the tools they need to do their jobs sustainably."

He also said using the digital technology costs less than hardwiring patient floors. It's also easier to install the digital system because it doesn't require cabling.


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