How many wheelchairs does your facility have? Do you know where they all are?
Keeping track of wheelchairs may be a low priority on busy staff members’ radar screens, but it keeps the hospital’s operating costs down and customer service ratings up.
Sam and Rana
Assets like wheelchairs tend to be ignored. Misplaced, hidden, or stolen, when the hospital has to buy replacements (conservative estimate: $300–$500 each), these disappearing items can cost time as well as money.
Mobility. I don’t take it for granted. Depending on someone else to wheel you to health care appointments sounds almost as scary as a hospital stay for a claustrophobic agoraphobe like me. How can we make procedures less stressful and traumatic for patients? Volunteers seem to be the #1 resource we have in a nation of budget cuts.
No care center has enough LARGE chairs to accommodate large patients. Like it or not, America’s health care system is full of big people.
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Stores have plastic devices attached to countless items that set off alarms if carried through the door. Chicago stores have grocery carts with wheels that lock up if the cart gets too far from the door. In today’s world of apps, bar codes, surveillance cameras, and more gizmos than the average employee could ever keep up with, it seems there has to be a better way to keep track of what’s what, and where.
The best way to prevent wheelchairs from rolling out the door used to be to keep an eye on them. “We tell our associates to be observant and watch them as they would any other property item,” says Roger Schlies, director of guest services for Centegra Health System in McHenry, IL. “Preventing wheelchair theft is the entire staff’s responsibility.”
How expensive can it be for wheelchairs to have bar codes, GPS chips, or other IDs? Not much money up front – just the valets and security guards to respond to beeps, and the volunteers to wheel misplaced chairs from one entrance to another.
It’s all online if you google it:
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) saves hospitals time and money due to misplaced or lost wheelchairs. According to a white paper by IPM Asset Solutions, Inc.,
–A hospital with 500 wheelchairs loses up to $25,000 per year in wheelchair inventory alone
–Add $28,000 per month for employee time spent searching, trying to find wheelchairs
— How many are left in some patient’s van?
— How many get left outside the hospital until a vagrant starts using it to haul around possessions?
–How many are on the premises, but no one knows where?
— Some hospital employees hide these items in their unit so they will have them when they need them. Some cover them with sheets or towels to hoard their resources.
Misplaced, hidden, or stolen–the hospital has to purchase more
— Electronic Asset Management is almost unavoidable. Barcodes help assess inventory.
With barcodes, no one is alerted when an asset leaves the property. No one knows if it ever comes back in. Unless strict processes are observed, many of the same problems still exist.
If adherence to processes could be guaranteed, the problem wouldn’t exist to begin with.
With RFID, hidden assets within the hospital would still be a potential issue, but over time, hoarding should subside because the assets are not as difficult to find. Staff members won’t feel the need to keep a stash of wheelchairs or IV racks if it isn’t difficult to put their hands on them when they need them. The increase in efficiency and loss prevention coupled with the lower cost of implementation will make the return on investment easier to achieve. check out processes could be automated.
–Many caregivers know all too well the frustration of searching for a wheelchair to transport a patient.
–Wheelchairs are used by multiple clinical departments, outpatients, volunteers, families and even visitors.
–Often like a grocery cart, wheelchairs are picked up in one location and dropped off somewhere totally different.
–Until recent increased awareness to prevent the spread of infections, wheelchairs and grocery carts were often not cleaned between uses.
In one survey,
–only 1% of staff felt wheelchairs were always available when they were needed.
–Audits found that only 69% of the designated locations had the available par levels of wheelchairs.
–More importantly to the patient and despite intense emphasis on infection prevention practices, observations of wheelchair use found that only 7% were actually cleaned between use.
–The event team took cultures from a sample of wheelchairs and found 4 out of 10 positive for bacterial growth.1 comment: Kel Mohroron April 27, 2016 at 4:49 pm
… Regardless of size, a provider can find credible guidance on designing and implementing wheelchair cleaning and availability management practices. These will improve patient, family member and visitor satisfaction. Just as important, the practices enable nurses to significantly reduce time and aggravation lost due to wheelchair searching and decontamination.
A wheelchair cleaning/availability system to improve patient/visitor satisfaction, save staff time/aggravation now being lost due to daily, inefficient, wheelchair searches and let’s not forget the need for decontamination.
I would suggest a fund raiser for new wheelchairs (plenty of Extra Large) and…. recruit some volunteers, maybe, to make Pediatric wheelchairs less scary looking and more fun. Magic Wheelchair is one nonprofit organization that makes epic costumes for children in wheelchairs, at no expense to their families: “Our goal is to put a smile on the face of every child in a wheelchair by transforming them into magical rides.”
You call this a wheelchair? Check out the handles. YES!
Then again, I will more likely retreat into my hermitude and just write about stuff, rather than try to make things happen. I’ll let someone else can donate time and energy to one of the many causes I call attention to, never knowing if anyone listens or cares, except on the rare occasion someone hits like or share or leaves a comment. Not that I expect anyone to read my blog. Every author has blogs, newsletters, and social media pages, and we’re asked to subscribe, follow, like, share – if you’re reading this now, you know you should be tending to other, more important, tasks.
Alas, that’s not me in the photo. Johnnie Boor, a giant pig, was my childhood buddy, but no one photographed him. I love this rhino!
Vicki in New York, David in Dublin, “KoolAidMoms” in Michigan, and “American novelist/ outlaw traditionalist” Mord McGhee (friend of New Yorker Sam, pictured at the top of this blog), you’re the only ones who’ve left any evidence of seeing this blog post. Thanks for reading. 🙂 I checked with my next-door neighbor, family members, and friends. Nope, they don’t read my blog unless I specifically ask and post a link for them.
P.S. I’m very happy to report that Sam is no longer relying on a wheelchair to get around. Go Sam!! What a trooper! What a survivor!