Technology Makes Hospital Waits Easier

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Waiting time at Gulf Coast Medical Center just got a tech upgrade. Time can stand still in a surgical waiting area, and many visitors come unprepared only to find that staring at the TV or fumbling through cross word puzzles just isn’t enough to take their mind off their worries. Medical procedures that are routine to hospital employees are often unfamiliar to patients and their loved ones, leaving them to feel frightened and uncertain. With this in mind, Gulf Coast Medical Center is using modern technology to create a supportive and reassuring environment in which patients and their visitors can feel more at ease.

“We have a variety of amenities available to patients and their loved ones to help them pass the time and keep them informed as the patient progresses through their medical procedure,” explains Patricia Carroll, Guest Service Coordinator. “Waiting can be such an emotional process. We make it a priority to make the experience as relaxing and enjoyable as possible.”

Recent additions to the waiting area were made possible by a generous donation from Richard and Cindy Harding of Miromar Lakes. A portion of the donation was used to purchase sixteen Kindle Fires, which are available for loan to patients and visitors. Seven are used in the waiting area, seven more in recovery, and two in pre-testing. “My wife and I watched the demonstration video that takes you through the entire surgical process,” says seventy-one year old, North Fort Myers resident, Ernest Piche. “It was helpful for us to know what to expect from the time we arrive until the time we leave.”

Displayed throughout the waiting area are signs offering visitors the use of the gadgets, equipped with internet access. “The Kindles are great,” says Carroll. “They are useful to all ages and provide a variety of activities in one small, user-friendly tablet. Any free app can be downloaded.” Borrowers surrender an ID and must be the companion of a surgical patient. Staff checks the battery supply every two hours, and you can swap for a fully charged Kindle if need be.

Visitors often need a good stretch and like to get up and get moving. Guest Services provides pagers, similar to the devices used at restaurants when waiting for a table. They allow family members some freedom, knowing they’re not going to miss anything important. Venus Nolan, of Cape Coral, used the pager while waiting for her husband. “I went and had a coffee at the cafe across the lobby. It’s nice to know they can reach you wherever you are. The hardest part of surgery is the people waiting,” Nolan says. By providing pagers, visitors don’t have to feel confined to one spot.

Shontae Russ, of Alva, is waiting as her grandmother undergoes a biopsy. When they arrived she was handed a card with a five digit number, assigned to her grandmother, which she could follow on the patient update screens located throughout the surgical waiting area as her grandmother moved from pre-op to surgery, and to recovery. The displays use the five digit code to identify the patient without disclosing any personal information. Color codes are used to let family members know where patients are at in the progression of their procedure.

“It really helps to know what’s happening instead of constantly running up to the desk to ask,” explains Russ. “The board is helpful because it shows me what’s going on. Like right now, this is her number, and I know that color represents that she’s in recovery and that means we’re almost out of here.”