Workplace Safety Updates

Workplace Safety Updates

As representatives from the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) and National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU) resume bargaining next week, I wanted to take a moment to review some major initiatives of the past several years to improve the safety of our employees and patients.

We know that workplace safety in health care is an important issue for all of us.  As you know, we have been working to address many of the concerns that have been raised.

Here are some of the initiatives on which I can update you:

Electronic Visitor Management System

Based on feedback from the 2017 Employee Engagement Survey and 2018 Pulse Survey, UCMC implemented a new electronic visitor management system in June of 2018 to provide better access control to our institution and replace an antiquated paper system.

The goal was to better track people through our facilities and to help control the number of visitors in patient rooms. Care for our patients is the most important mission we have and patients’ family members and visitors are an important part of that care. However, at times that can be a challenge when you need to work around large numbers of visitors to get to the patient.

We listened to nurses and our other staff again, along with the voice of our patients, last fall when you began telling us that the current system was not meeting the goals we originally envisioned. In response, we formed a multidisciplinary task force of front-line staff, security and patient experience leadership and others to evaluate the best way to achieve our security goals while at the same time create a better environment for our patients, their families and visitors.

That work has progressed and we have been evaluating a number of new systems to speed up the process. We are also examining how we match policy with technology in special circumstances, such as end-of-life moments. We anticipate final recommendations later this year, and we’re confident that the involvement of our nurses and other caregivers will result in the selection of the best system for our staff, patients and families.

New Staff ID Badges

In response to concerns raised in the 2017 and 2018 engagement surveys, last summer we unveiled a new employee identification badge system that further protects your privacy and that of our other frontline staff by eliminating last names from your badges. In an increasingly wired social-media world, this offers a layer of protection and has been positively received.

Secure Inpatient Units

In tandem with the new visitor system, the Medical Center in October 2018 began installing new systems to secure inpatient units.  We started with floors 8-10 in the Center for Care and Discovery (CCD). This involved the installation of monitors and intercom systems to empower staff to control who gets into the units by requiring visitors be “buzzed” in by staff.

We anticipate the next phase of the installation on CCD 3 and 4 and Mitchell 3 and 5 beginning in August, and hope to complete this work in November.

Code Silver Barrier Devices and Emergency Go Bag Update

In unexpected emergency situations, training and preparation are two of the most important elements to ensure safety. We know that staff had questions about the proper procedures to follow in the event of an active shooter, fire or Code Pink incident. In response, the  Business Continuity Office, with the assistance from Public Safety, began an initiative in February 2019 to assess all inpatient, outpatient and procedural units of the Medical Center to identify optimal shelter-in-place locations and to equip all units with an Emergency Go Bag and door locking mechanisms to provide a one-stop solution for emergency information and staff security.

The Go Bags contain unit/clinic emergency plans and guides on how to respond in an emergency situation, and are expected to begin arriving on units in the next month or two.

Workplace Safety Training

The Go Bags are one manifestation of the ongoing training UCMC provides staff. Starting several years ago, UCMC began offering de-escalation training to a broader cross section of nurses and other staff to give you more tools to resolve potentially contentious issues peacefully. The Staying Safe at Work training module was rolled out in July 2018 to codify for staff what to do in the event of an emergency.

We take employee safety very seriously, and have been working diligently over the past several years to improve our systems and create new ones when needed.

One of the most important factors in the introduction of these initiatives has been your input and participation on UCMC committees that make recommendations on these topics, something we have offered to formalize as part of the new contract. We continually work to improve our processes, and I want to thank you for your input and feedback, both formal and informal.

As always we welcome your input into how we can continue to improve safety at UChicago Medicine.