OHSU

OHSU Employee Invents Screens To Protect Privacy For Patients As They Are Transported Through Hospitals

05/18/06  Portland, Ore.

 

Patients on hospital beds used to be subject to embarrassing stares when wheeled through corridors. But at OHSU Hospital, that's no longer a problem, thanks to Ed Marcell. As soon as he heard about it, Marcell, OHSU's manager of patient transportation, spent a few weeks drawing models, talking to people and investigating materials to devise the world's first hospital-bed privacy screen. 

The translucent silk screen attaches to poles inserted into the corners of the bed. It wraps around three sides, concealing the patient's body but leaving the head open in case hospital staff need quick access for a medical procedure.

"It's all about helping the patient," said Marcell, 45, a man of contagious energy and optimism.

As word of the screen has spread, other hospitals around the country want it too. Marcell has been working with a medical device company to manufacture an improved version of the screen.

The privacy screen isn't Marcell's first invention. A born problem solver, he creates his own solutions when he can't find them readymade.

Marcell oversees a staff of 90 who handle patient movement of all types, including lifts, transfers to wheelchairs or stretchers and moves through corridors for x-rays, surgeries and the like. To facilitate transfers from one surface to another, he devised an inflatable Hovermat and a flat, plexiglass Sliderboard, each fitting under a patient and each appropriate for different situations.

In 2004 Marcell produced a training video to show the right and wrong ways to move patients. Called Safe Moves: The Art of Patient Transportation, the video has been licensed by OHSU's Technology and Research Collaboration (TRC) to 12 hospitals around the country.

Michelle Gunness, compliance manager with TRC, has been working with Marcell on his inventions. "Most of our inventions come from faculty, and very few from other employees," she says. "Ed has such a broad perspective on life and such an entrepreneurial spirit. He's refreshing."

The safety of patients and staff has been Marcell's mission since he joined OHSU's transportation department in 1980. One of his most valuable decisions was to institute a Lift Team to help transfer patients from their beds for baths, commodes and routine turns to prevent bedsores. The team has 22 highly trained members who are available around the clock to move patients safely.

Marcell thought OHSU would benefit from a lift team when he learned that injuries to nurses from lifting patients were costing the hospital $100,000 a year. He'd heard about the idea at a hospital in California.

Besides Marcell's inventions, team members use three mechanical lifts with metal frames and slings to hoist patients. Two lifts have 550-pound capacity, while the third can lift up to 1,000 pounds--so even the heaviest patient can be lifted safely.

"We used to do three-person lifts," Marcell said. "Now we use two people"--one to monitor the equipment and one to coach the patient. Although injuries still occur for various reasons, no member of the Lift Team has ever been injured, Marcell said.

Patients are grateful for the extra care and attention. "We help patients every day," says team member John Shelton. "We bond with them."

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