Lawrence General’s phlebotomists have embraced the Answer the Call initiative in a big way. Since being trained to answer inpatient call bells last spring, the team has done so more than 500 times to date. In the last three months of 2018 alone, they collectively answered 202 call bells, half of which were in the Emergency Center.
“This makes a huge difference to both the patient and staff experience here at the hospital,” says Christina Wolf, RN, director of Population Health, who oversees the Answer the Call initiative. “When a call bell is answered quickly, it reduces anxiety and enhances safety for the patient, and frees up valuable time for bedside clinical staff.”
Started in late 2017, the Answer the Call initiative was introduced as a way to broaden the number of staff members who are trained to answer a call bell with the goal to improve response times and reduce patient falls.
“Traditionally, the call bell is the responsibility of the nurses and aides providing direct care on the patient floors,” says Christina. “But the call bells are really everybody’s responsibility and we want to set the expectation that the person who is closest will be the first to respond.”
Under the direction Ali Scarry, administrative director of the Laboratory, and Maria Jimenez, Phlebotomy supervisor, the Laboratory team has made answering call bells a cornerstone of their Annual Operating Plan goals. Every member of the Lab staff has received Answer the Call training, and all new phlebotomists are trained during orientation. Maria has been maintaining a log of all call bells answered by her team since July.
“Most of the patient requests are very basic, like lowering a shade, moving a table, or getting a glass of water,” says Maria. Occasionally, however, the phlebotomists are in the right place at the right time to mitigate a more serious incident. Marino Alcantara, for example, helped redirect a confused patient who had wandered out of her room. Leyshla Hernandez caught a patient who almost fell out of bed after dropping her call bell.
“This initiative is really a good fit for the phlebotomists because they are out on the floors so much,” says Ali. “They know the nursing staff and often get to know the patients who are here for extended stays. They’re already an important part of the care team.”
“Answering call bells is really second nature to the phlebotomists,” adds Maria. “We’ve always checked in on patients and provided assistance when possible. It’s great that we’re now getting recognized.”