St. Mary's Has New Communications Tool

Reporter: Shannon Samson

Time spent looking for someone is time wasted.

In a hospital setting, that time can be critical. Some of the departments at St. Mary's Medical Center in Evansville already have tracking systems for their employees, but now a new system called Vocera aims to make everyone everywhere more accessible.

Vocera comes in handy on the fifth floor at St. Mary's. There are 48 beds in the four wings of the cardiac telemetry unit. Telemetry nurseTracy MacGregor says, "If somebody's way down another wing and you need them for something, or if you're in charge and you need to tell somebody that they're getting a patient, push the button and you get a hold of them right away. There's no delay."

They can reach doctors and other departments via the wireless network installed throughout the hospital's sprawling campus. Telemetry director Darla Royster says, "The day of the tornado, it was very helpful for communication back and forth because friends and family were across the street at Seton Manor and we were over here in the hospital and we were able to communicate back and forth and share information."

And sometimes for confidentiality reasons, it's important not to share information. MacGregor says, "If you are in a patient room and you need some privacy, you just put them on hold." And then the nurses can pick up their messages when they're available again.

Studies conducted at facilities of similar size show the Vocera system works five times faster than traditional communication methods. Nurses say they've noticed a difference, especially when it comes to saving them a few extra steps.

In January, the Vocera system will be enhanced so that when patients call from their rooms, they'll be in connected directly to their nurse instead of the nurse's station.