Coaches Lend a Hand, Equipment to Boost Patient Care
Lift Coach Cory Barber hits the ground running as soon as his shift starts at NorthBay Medical Center. Professionally trained in safe patient handling, he works at the bedside with nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists whenever help is needed moving patients. “My phone starts ringing and the requests come in,” Cory says. He logs each call into his computer tablet and begins to make his rounds of the patient care units. On a typical day he will assist in patient repositioning, lift transfers and the use of mobility equipment.
“I make regular rounds to check in with the nurses and ask if they need help,” Cory says. “As I help, I’m also coaching the nurses on safety techniques. For a nurse, one wrong lift can cause a career-ending injury, and that’s what I’m here to prevent.”
Because the risk of injury is so high, California law requires all healthcare workers in acute care hospitals to be trained in safe lifting techniques, the appropriate use of lifting devices and equipment and the types of patient handling that may expose them to increased risk of injury.
One wrong lift can cause a career-ending injury. That’s what I’m here to prevent.
—Cory Barber, Lift Coach
NorthBay Healthcare contracts with Atlas Lift Tech, Ltd., a Bay Area-based firm dedicated to promoting safety in health care settings, to provide training in safe patient handling. Their lift coaches debuted at NorthBay Medical Center in 2012 as part of an on-going effort to create a culture of safety within the organization. The program proved so valuable that lift coaches were added at NorthBay VacaValley Hospital the following year. Lift coaches now work at NorthBay Medical Center and NorthBay VacaValley Hospital daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Their No.1 priority is to provide bedside coaching and education on safe patient handling and mobility, but their responsibilities also include responding to patient falls, codes and Rapid Response Team calls. “When a code is called, or in the rare instance when a patient falls, it’s my responsibility to bring the appropriate lifting device, if it is needed,” Cory says. In addition to training staff, lift coaches are responsible for maintaining the inventory of a wide range of lifting materials and equipment.
Nurses have embraced the lift coaches and consider them an integral part of the health care team. “The coaches help us carry out the daily tasks of transferring and repositioning patients in an easier, more efficient and safer way, without the added stress and strain on our bodies, especially our backs,” one nurse wrote in a recent survey.
Since implementing this program in September 2012, NorthBay Healthcare continues to experience a decreasing trend in paid claims related to the patient lift/transfer of care staff injuries.
“I love my job,” Cory adds. “I enjoy the interaction with both staff and patients. When you can help someone get out of bed for the first time and then see them progressively get better, it’s very rewarding.”