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Tri-County Installs Bariatric Lift For Needs of Patients and Caregivers

WADENA--Both men and women in the United States are roughly an inch taller and 25 pounds heavier than they were in 1960, says the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

WADENA-Both men and women in the United States are roughly an inch taller and 25 pounds heavier than they were in 1960, says the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

An increasing number are also overweight or obese. And, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, hospital admissions of obese patients have tripled in the last 20 years and nationally represent nearly 10 percent of all hospital admissions.

Tri-County Health Care reported it an increase in its bariatric patients and a choice to be proactive.

"Larger patients often do not feel welcome in hospitals and the increase on physical demands on nurses caring for patients was becoming unsafe," said Sharyl Rinkel, assistant director of nursing in a news release.

In 2015, Tri-County received grants, including one from its auxiliary, which helped offset the cost of the equipment.

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"Thanks to the grants we received, we were able to install a lift system and remodel a patient room at Tri-County that is designed with bariatric patients and medical staff in mind," said Rinkel.

There are many reasons why design guidelines exist for obese and bariatric patients, put perhaps the most important reason is to retain patient dignity.

"We wanted to create a room for these patients to feel valued, safe and comfortable. We didn't want their weight to be a barrier," said Rinkel. "Obese patients are often fearful that we may not have the appropriate equipment to meet their needs and many times will delay or avoid medical treatment. Because of their fear, it is extremely important that obese patients are treated with sensitivity and respect."

Prior to remodeling the room and purchasing the equipment Rinkel said they did their homework. A safety assessment was done, and submitted to the safety committee, to validate the need for the changes. After that was complete, much research, including traveling to other hospitals to see what they used, was done to optimize clinical workflow while protecting both patients and caregivers from injury. It was also important to staff at Tri-County to get input from the community. As a result, several patients were contacted to share their opinion about what to put into the room. And most importantly, staff went through onsite training to ensure they were confident in how to use the equipment properly.

Respecting patient dignity and delivering optimum clinical care are primary issues, as are establishing procedures for safeguarding the health and well-being of bariatric and obese patients and the caregivers assigned to them, Tri-County reported.

To prepare for the specialized needs of these patients, Tri-County custom designed the room specifically with the obese patient in mind. Maximizing the space within the entire room was essential. Special designs features included widening the doors, replacing the bathroom door with a privacy curtain and installing an overhead lift system in the ceiling. "The ceiling-mounted design is more efficient and aesthetically pleasing than portable lifts and allows our staff to safely get our patients where they need to go," Rinkel said. "Whether it's to the chair, the bathroom, the shower or to reposition in bed, the lift allows us to continue to provide safe and appropriate care to all of our patients."

A Transforming Care at Tri-County team was also charged with helping to design the room.

Rinkel said the team consisted of nurses, certified nursing assistants and physical therapy staff members.

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