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University Medical Center New Orleans Strengthens Commitment to Workplace Safety Amid National Healthcare Concerns

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University Medical Center New Orleans Strengthens Commitment to Workplace Safety Amid National Healthcare Concerns

In recent years, workplace safety in healthcare settings has become a significant concern across the country. University Medical Center New Orleans (UMC) has the privilege of serving as the region's only Level 1 Trauma Center, the only verified Burn Center in the Gulf Coast, a crisis center for Behavioral Health, and the healthcare provider for the incarcerated. Like many similar hospitals, UMC faces complex challenges daily. As the safety net hospital for Louisiana, our commitment to the safety of our patients, employees, and community remains paramount.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare workers across the nation have experienced a sharp increase in incidences of workplace violence, with no sign that this trend is receding. Despite the diligent efforts of hospitals and health systems to prevent violence, health care workers remain five times more likely than any other type of worker to be physically attacked on the job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Under new leadership, UMC has prioritized a cultural shift towards increased employee engagement and transparent communication. This commitment is evident through the implementation and ongoing efforts of numerous workplace safety initiatives, including the establishment of a Workplace Violence Committee and the launch of the UMC Safe program. Additionally, UMC is planning Collaborative Solutions Workshops led by the CEO to hear potential solutions and feedback from team members to further enhance our safety culture.

Although the City of New Orleans has made strides to increase safety in the community, crime and violence remains more prevalent in urban areas. While UMC’s location in the heart of the city presents unique challenges, dedicated hospital committees have taken significant action to ensure the safety of employees and patients. Since January, these initiatives have been communicated with hospital staff via emails. Some of the ongoing initiatives include:

· Increased K-9 patrol at the Emergency Department entrance 7 days a week.

· Completed market compensation adjustments to retain and attract top talent.

· Assigned additional patrol officer for the Ambulatory Care Building during business hours.

· Added security officer on Step Down Trauma unit.

· Dedicated security officers for the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) and Behavioral Health Emergency Room (BHER).

· Installed traffic mirrors and improved walkways with enhanced lighting and landscaping.

· Enhanced roaming security and refreshed duress badge buttons.

· Installed quick inspection handheld metal detectors and Fast Pass stations.

· Programmed prop open door sensors and added gate alarms.

· Added magnetic locks inside BHER and a security door to the Cancer Center.

· Installed bullet resistant materials in sensitive areas of the hospital.

· Planned maintenance and upgrade of security cameras with facial recognition capabilities.

· Implemented card access to specific areas.

· Conducting monthly testing of hard-wired panic buttons.

· Installing additional cameras across the campus.

Future plans to keep UMC secure include:

· Holding CEO led Collaborative Solutions Workshops.

· Evaluating, repairing, and replacing the existing 1020-camera system.

· Enhancing and expanding UMC staff duress badge system.

· Adding card access to D&T freight elevators 9 & 10.

· Piloting a weapons detection system at the Emergency Department entrance.

· Hosting security experts for a campus assessment.

· Enhancing the Visitor Management System with an EPIC interface.

Recognizing that workplace violence is a growing issue in healthcare, UMC supports the increased actions by the Joint Commission that allows criminal behavior to be prosecuted. Despite the challenges faced by safety net hospitals in urban settings, UMC has recently undergone two visits from the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH). Surveys completed by the Joint Commission and LDH resulted in no findings, reflecting our dedication to maintaining a safe environment.

“Nationally one of the biggest challenges in healthcare is workplace violence and we spend a significant amount of time and resources ensuring we have a safe environment for our patients and staff,” said John Nickens, CEO of University Medical Center. “As the safety net hospital for New Orleans, it is our privilege to care for underserved populations, and we continue to offer the best possible care to our community and foster a culture of wellness within our hospital. We remain committed to working together with our team to ensure UMC’s campus is safe for our community.”

UMC also received a “B” Hospital Safety Grade from The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit watchdog. Leapfrog assigns an “A,” “B,” “C,” “D” or “F” grade to general hospitals across the country based on over 30 measures of errors, accidents, injuries and infections as well as the systems hospitals have in place to prevent them. Through collaborative efforts across nursing, providers, allied health professionals, and support services, UMC established robust protocols and standards aimed at enhancing patient safety and experience. This work has tangible results as showcased in the “B” grade presented to UMC in this recent report.

In addition to the recent Leapfrog recognition, UMC achieved Magnet Recognition in 2023, a testament to the hospital’s commitment to nursing excellence and best practices. This prestigious accolade, bestowed upon only 10% of hospitals in the U.S., underscores the hospital’s relentless pursuit of nursing excellence and patient-centered care.

As an essential hospital caring for underserved populations in their most vulnerable moments, UMC continues to prioritize the best patient care for our community. We will continue to make the changes necessary to ensure our hospital is safe for patients and team members.