Seeing Through Rose-colored Passes

Expiring visitor ID program helps Swedish Covenant Hospital keep patients safe

Tracking more than 300,000 admissions, outpatient visits and emergency room visits—not to mention an unknown number of vendor and family member visits per year at Swedish Covenant Hospital—proved a challenge from a security standpoint for this seven-building campus.

That’s why the Chicago hospital turned to an expiring identification badge solution from ProForm Technologies to monitor visitors and keep patients safe.

“When a patient comes into our hospital, they are putting their life in our hands and we want to do everything we can to protect them,” said Dorothy Pravdik, manager of lobby services at Swedish Covenant Hospital, a full-service medical facility operated by Evangelical Covenant Church. “The concern is always to maintain the safety of our patients. The world isn’t the same as it was 10 years ago. We as a society have become more aware of the necessity of security in all areas of our life.”

In the five years that Swedish Covenant Hospital has been using one-day expiring ID badges, no patient safety incidents related to unauthorized visitors have occurred. Since the badges turn a bright pink color 24 hours after activation, staff easily can pinpoint and stop anyone with an expired badge.

“It’s important for us to be able to screen everybody that comes in the door on a daily basis so we can continue to provide a healing environment for our patients, visitors and staff,” Pravdik said.

A Messy Paper Trail
Swedish Covenant Hospital had always kept track of its visitors. But before using expiring badges, the hospital relied on paper stick-on IDs that could be reused, lost, stolen or copied. This presented serious liability issues and an ineffective monitoring solution.

“The problem with labels is people would walk out and take them off and the labels would end up on light poles,” said Kerry Nemec, account manager with ProForm Technologies Inc., a Chicago-based distributor of TEMPbadge ID products. Nemec sold the expiring badge program to the hospital and helped implement it.

Pravdik said the hospital has used different methods to monitor visitors throughout its more than 120-year history, most recently using disposable pieces of paper.

“There was no way to tell who belonged in the facility or who didn’t,” she said. “But since we were passing out paper passes, it wasn’t that difficult for us to convert over to the expiring badge system.”

Tickled Pink
Within a week of purchasing the TEMPbadge ID badges, hospital and security staff could easily track visitors and vendors. Swedish Covenent Hospital opted for a three-color badging system: blue for outpatients and visitors, yellow for vendors and red for a visitor or patient entering the emergency room.

At each of four hospital entrances, individuals are required to check in and state the purpose of the visit. The appropriate colored clip-on badge is then issued for each visitor. The sticky label affixed to the badge back activates time-sensitive technology to expire and turn the badge pink within 24 hours. The date, visitor’s name and destination are written on the badge by hospital staff processing the visitor entry.

Nemec estimates Swedish Covenant Hospital uses 3,000 to 4,000 expiring badges per week. The expiring badges, preprinted with the hospital’s name and logo, are easy to assemble by staff members when a visitor checks in.

“After 24 hours, the bad ge develops bright pink stripes, informing us that the visitor was here from the day before and had not checked in that day,” Pravdik said, adding that hospital administrators are extremely pleased with the program.

The badge is then dropped off at the front desk before the visitor leaves. But even if the person forgets to do that, and tries to reuse the badge later, the expiration feature alerts staff that the visitor has not checked in properly.

“Going down the halls, if we see someone without a badge we are able to stop them and see if there’s anything we can help with,” Pravdik said. “It goes back to the concept of making sure that the people who are here at the hospital belong here and have a sense of security.”

Added Benefits
Besides keeping hospital patients safe by helping to ensure non-patients, visitors and vendors stay out, the expiring ID badge program also decreases unnecessary visitor traffic.

“We had some issues with our vendors coming into our hospital and wandering around and doing surprise visits,” Pravdik said.

The vendor badge color makes it easier for staff to track the movement of these visitors and ensure they are escorted to their location per hospital policy. Pravdik said the color coding allows staff to point these visitors in the right direction if needed.

And because the badges are a clip-on type, they are less likely to accidentally fall off and get lost as paper label badges can, a feature that Pravdik likes.

“They love the product,” Nemec said. “The color coding is a big thing making it easy to identify the type of visitor. ... It’s more and more important today for patient safety to monitor people’s access to the hospital. Patient safety and security are always key.”

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