RCare News & Blog

Is Your Refrigerator Running? The Importance of Refrigerator Temperature for Senior Communities

Is Your Refrigerator Running? The Importance of Refrigerator Temperature for Senior Communities

Hey….Is Your Refrigerator Running?

Unlike the old prank call joke, refrigerator temperature in long term care is no laughing matter. When health inspectors check out your senior community’s kitchen, one of the first places they’ll look is at your refrigerators. Are they keeping food at the proper temperature? This is important because food-borne illnesses are surprisingly common and can be very serious, especially among the more vulnerable populations. According to Federal government estimates, “Each year these illnesses result in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.”

Good refrigeration is easy to get right by using RCare’s advanced temperature sensors to monitor temperatures inside refrigerators.

It’s a critical responsibility to ensure that all dining facility refrigerators are within the proper cooling range. However, many times residents have refrigerators in private apartments too, which need to be consistently monitored as well.

But food safety isn’t the only reason refrigerator temps needs to be monitored. Perhaps equally important are the medications and vaccines which require refrigeration, including insulin for controlling diabetes, some rheumatoid arthritis medications, some common antibiotics, and many more. For these medications, temperature stability is critical, and even small temperature fluctuations can render them ineffective, or even dangerous.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines, refrigerator temperatures that drop even 5 degrees can freeze medications and vaccines, rendering them totally ineffective. The CDC also warns that temperatures varying the other direction, and are too warm, can melt some meds, and can cause others to become useless. While medications can cause harm by being made ineffective, what’s potentially even worse is that they can cause an adverse event in the resident.

The solution is to make sure that you know the temperature in your refrigerator at all times, and that you get alerted if the temperature spikes or falls. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends using a thermometer to check the refrigerator temperature frequently, but in a facility with dozens or hundreds of refrigerators, this is a process that clearly needs to be automated. What’s more, according to CDC guidelines, it’s important to test at different times of day, at different times during the refrigerator cooling cycle, during different seasons and weather conditions, and during different user activity patterns, to ensure that the refrigerators are always maintaining a safe, stable temperature. And it’s important to be able to refer back to a log, to verify that over time the temperature has remained at a safe level.

RCare Refrigerator Temperature Sensor in Senior CommunitiesRCare offers the ideal solution, a digital refrigerator thermometer that is integrated right into the facility’s nurse call system. Temperatures are monitored continuously, and logged, so you can check the history of any refrigerator. Should the temperature veer outside of the safe range, caregivers receive a discreet alert, letting them know immediately when there is a problem. This means that food and medications can be moved to safer storage right away.

Whether it’s food or medicine, you can’t count on knowing whether they’re safe just by how they look. “Some medications may visibly show a compromised medication through cloudiness and/or clumping. However, other medications may not show any signs of alteration, thereby leaving the impression the medications are fine.”

With RCare monitoring your refrigerator temperatures, you can be confident that your refrigerators are running exactly as they should be. And if they’re not, RCare will let you know. Your residents count on you for their health and safety. RCare can help.

CMS Issues Large Restrictions on Bed and Chair Alarms in Senior Housing

CMS Issues Large Restrictions on Bed and Chair Alarms in Senior Housing

In news that is shaking up senior living communities, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has put serious restrictions on the use of bed and chair alarms-but only those that sound alarms near the resident. This will cause many senior housing communities to reevaluate their nurse call and advanced monitoring technologies to ensure they will comply with the new regulations, effective at the end of November, 2017.

CMS issued new bed and chair alarm restricctionsAccording to CMS, a revision to the State Operations Manual will now classify bed and chair alarms, or any position change alarms which make an audible noise near the resident as a restraint. Restraints can only be used when deemed medically necessary and even then, must be continuously reevaluated for use. In other words, if a resident can hear the alarm that the sensor makes, it would be not authorized for general use.

There are many good reasons for this regulation. CMS explains the rationale to ban these devices as potentially harmful emotionally and physically to the resident:

  • Loss of dignity
  • Decreased mobility
  • Bowel and bladder incontinence
  • Sleep disturbances due to the sound of the alarm or because the resident is afraid to move in bed thereby setting off the alarm
  • Confusion, fear, agitation, anxiety, or irritation in response to the sound of the alarm as residents may mistake the alarm as a warning or as something they need to get away from.

According to the newly implemented CMS revisions: “While position change alarms may be implemented to monitor a resident’s movements, for some residents, the use of position change alarms that are audible to the resident(s) may have the unintended consequence of inhibiting freedom of movement. For example, a resident may be afraid to move to avoid setting off the alarm and creating noise that is a nuisance to the resident(s) and staff, or is embarrassing to the resident. For this resident, a position change alarm may have the potential effect of a physical restraint.”

Communities must adapt and quickly to this change. But, fortunately communities have a better choice, not only for complying with the new requirements, but for making the quality of life better within the community. RCare’s bed and chair sensors are seamlessly integrated into all of the RCare nurse call systems and discreetly alert staff, without embarrassing or disrupting the resident. This is why RCare continues to integrate a wide variety of environmental and activity monitoring sensors into its wireless nurse call solutions.

RCare bed and chair alarmsCommunities have good reasons for using position change sensors. It’s important to know if a resident may need help. It’s important to know if someone is having a restless night, or if they haven’t moved from the couch or gotten out of bed. And it’s important to know if they’ve gotten out of the wheelchair.

With RCare, alerts go directly to the nurse station and can message or call the wireless RPhones carried by staff. The event is automatically logged. The “I got it” feature enables caregivers to claim the call, so there’s no duplication of response effort, and no alert goes unanswered.

These kinds of incidents make up a record that helps staff tailor a plan of care for each resident. This record helps staff, and families, know when the situation has changed and the plan of care needs to change as well. It keeps a record of the the resident/care staff interaction, too, which is critical for resident-centered care and quality.

In addition to bed and chair sensors, the RCare system integrates with universal contact sensors and passive sensors to detect unsafe room temperature levels, refrigerator temperature fluctuations, and water overflows. And, of course, the system integrates with a full range of resident-activated devices, such as push-button pendants, pull cords, and the like. The new GEO lets you set safe zones for residents who need it, so care staff are discreetly alerted if and when particular residents move outside their designated safe area. No more loud alarms.

Having a single system that channels all alerts to the same receivers makes sense for busy care staff, who can monitor all concerns, wherever they are, on their mobile device. Having those alerts be discreet and quiet makes for a better living and working environment for everyone. And most importantly, getting rid of those noisy alarms is good for the health and the safety of the residents and the caregiving staff.

New eCall Program for Affordable Housing

New eCall Program for Affordable Housing

RCare, maker of advanced wireless nurse call systems, recently announced the addition of a new low-cost eCall Program designed for providers of affordable housing for low-income seniors. This eCall Program is a testament to the company’s mission of improving the quality of care for all seniors, regardless of financial status.

The new RCare eCall Program for Affordable Housing offers the critical capabilities of RCare’s flagship wireless nurse call technologies, for a fraction of the cost. The RCare eCall system will offer savings to affordable housing providers in several ways, including an extremely low cost of entry, minimal hardware to maintain, lowered on-going fees, and requiring only one internet connection for the entire eCall system.

“If you run an affordable senior housing community, you need to talk to us. We can save you money.”

The purpose of RCare’s affordable eCall Program is to provide the very best of nurse call capabilities to America’s lower income seniors, according to RCare CEO, Myron Kowal. “RCare is always looking for ways to offer our comprehensive features at a more competitive price point, especially to those who can’t afford all the bells and whistles,” said Kowal. “If you run an affordable senior housing community, you need to talk to us. We can save you money.”

The RCare eCall Program is simple to install, with one small wall-based touchscreen server and one pendant for each resident. If the building has an existing internet connection, that will be sufficient for the entire RCare eCall Program. No landlines are required. When a resident presses the pendant, the RCare panel will notify the call center, who will assess the situation directly and determine further actions.

RCare has had a busy year of progress and innovations including the announcement of an Amazon Alexa skill, their iOS app launch for RCare Mobile, and RCare’s integration with PointClickCare. RCare was recently nominated for two mobile caregiving awards for “Best of 2018” Mobile Star Awards.

Find out more about RCare. www.rcareinc.com or 585-671-4144.

How Senior Housing Campuses Can Save Lives During Heat Waves & Other Disasters

How Senior Housing Campuses Can Save Lives During Heat Waves & Other Disasters

When the outside temperature rises, it’s not only an inconvenient situation. Heat waves can be deadly to older and more vulnerable residents.

This lesson was driven home starkly in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Florida, where nine residents died after losing power in their nursing community.

It doesn’t take a catastrophic hurricane to make heat a deadly problem for seniors. Nearly 400 Americans die from heat waves each year. “Most of them are elderly people who often don’t realize when they are overheating and in danger.” (agingcare.com)

This is an awesome responsibility that falls on senior communities, to prevent and respond to a potential temperature increase, even if the resident doesn’t realize the danger or severity of the situation.

RCare Temperature Sensors (TS9 and TS9E) to mitigate the danger of heat waves to seniors

RCare’s temperature sensors

Nurse Call Systems have come a long way in the past few decades. Caregiving staff are expected to do far more than simply respond to button and pull cord alerts. They need to be aware if a resident is in a dangerous environment, without the resident having to do anything. The technology needs to enable better, faster, and more predictive care.

That’s why RCare’s nurse call systems have gone above and beyond, to integrate passive environmental sensors, such as temperature and flood detecting sensors. RCare’s temperature devices will detect when temperatures are rising and start sending out alerts to designated caregiving team members. RCare allows for a quick intervention, before the situation becomes a crisis.

Passive sensors are an important part of a complete nurse call system. RCare is the provider of advanced wireless nurse call systems for senior communities across the senior care continuum. With the integration of temperature sensors, water sensors, and other environmental sensors, RCare provides care staff with the extra tools they need to keep seniors safe, even if the resident never pressed a button.

Wander Management

Need wander management?  

We got wander management!  RCare is pleased to announce an integration with Accutech Security’s LS2400 wander management system.

wander managementAccutech’s solution is a low-cost wander system that provides resident ID, loiter and door-ajar monitoring, low tag battery as well as several other alerts without the need for a computer. It can provide resident ID and reporting capabilities at the door or nurses station with the optional touch-screen LCD display.  And now with the introduction of RCare integration, it is possible for communities to experience these capabilities directly from a browser or on their RCare Mobile nurse call handsets.

Long term care facilities can have multiple technology needs, but nobody wants to adopt three or four different solutions to address them all.  Technologies that work together, work the best.  Now your wander management can talk to your RCare nurse call system.

We think that’s the way it should be.

How A Simple Facebook Post got this Senior Housing Provider in Legal Hot Water!

How A Simple Facebook Post got this Senior Housing Provider in Legal Hot Water!

It was Edna’s 100th birthday at Greenfield Manor and everyone was in the mood for celebrating! The staff made her a cake, while the residents and family gathered to sing a spirited Happy Birthday! Edna was well liked among fellow residents and staff members. Thinking to preserve memories of the occasion, a caregiving aide from Greenfield took out her smartphone and recorded the celebration.

She then shared the cute video on her Facebook profile with the caption “Edna rings in 100. I love my job”. It had seemed innocent enough. Many of her friends commented on how cute it was and extended birthday wishes. She most likely never thought this very action would result in her losing the job she loved.

Unfortunately, the use of personal smartphones and devices is on the rise by professional caregivers in long-term care. And not just for social media. They’re also being used by caregivers who wish to relay patient information and activity to other caregiving staff in a faster and more efficient fashion. They are trying to provide better care. Instead, they are putting their communities, patient privacy and their jobs at risk.

Greenfield Manor believes very strongly in maintaining high end security, patient integrity and privacy. They immediately recognized this act for what it was: a HIPAA violation. They followed their HIPAA privacy protocol, relieved the aide of her position and contacted the family about the privacy breach.

Although Edna’s family was upset about the violation of Edna’s privacy, they were satisfied with the actions the facility took, and the aide didn’t face legal action. It definitely could have been worse.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency that enforces HIPAA, has come down hard on communities and their staff members that utilize personal smart devices in a professional care setting.

A recent CMS memorandum to state officials stated that organizations must have policies that prohibit employees from taking pictures or video of residents and posting them on social media, no matter what. In addition to privacy breaches, CMS is concerned with protecting residents from feeling demeaned or embarrassed.

CMS has gone so far to require that any employees in violation of these strict policies must be reported to local law enforcement, for possible resident mental abuse. This is true even if the resident gave consent.

Q: What should senior housing communities do?

A: Remove any and all usage of personal smart devices by your staff and instead get HIPAA compliant, secure RCare Mobile phones.

RCare Mobile utilizes a locked down smartphone which allows caregivers to receive customized patient alerts as well as detailed resident information and location. RCare Mobile allows voice and text communications with other staff including the I Got It button, letting other staff know who is responding to the call.

Here’s the best part. Even though RCare Mobile looks and acts just like a smartphone, it’s a smartphone that is completely dedicated to being a high-function, secure, HIPAA-compliant nurse call system phone. It doesn’t allow additional apps to be installed. It doesn’t allow taking photos or videos. And it doesn’t allow social media of any kind.

RCare Mobile. the world’s most advanced nurse call system is calling you. It’s time to respond.

How the CMS Star Ratings System Changed in Response to COVID-19

How the CMS Star Ratings System Changed in Response to COVID-19

Last updated September 1, 2020

What is the 5-Star Quality Rating System?

Each community is unique, with distinct resident needs, caregiving processes, and more. RCare takes the time to build customized, lasting solutions to meet the diverse needs of the communities they serve.

In 2008, the CMS star ratings system was created for the Skilled Nursing Industry by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The system rates communities on a scale of one (lowest) to five (highest) stars in three areas, as well as assigning an overall star rating. The three areas of evaluation are: Health Inspections, Quality Measures, and Staffing.

The results are made available to consumers and families, on an easy-to-use website called Nursing Home Compare, to help them evaluate and compare skilled nursing communities. They can also be used by state agencies and regulators, payors, and business investors or lenders, to evaluate facilities.

Since its inception, the system has been changed and improved numerous times, most recently in March of 2019. These changes are planned and well communicated. But did you know that in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic began to rock the senior living industry and the country as a whole, it also led to rapid, temporary changes to the 5-Star Quality Rating System, changes that affect all three of the star ratings.

Changes to the 5-Star Quality Rating System Since COVID-19

Temporary Changes to the 5-Star Quality Rating System due to COVID-19, issued in July, 2020:

Staffing Rating

Because of the pandemic, and its dramatic impact on congregate living communities, CMS waived the requirement to submit data for the Staffing rating through the Payroll-Based Journal system. As a result, many facilities didn’t submit Q1 staffing data by the May, 2020 deadline. Therefore, instead of updating Staffing star ratings in July as scheduled, CMS kept existing ratings in place, those based on data from the last quarter in 2019.

An exception was made for facilities that had missed a previous deadline for Staffing data submission. Those communities had been downgraded one star as a late penalty. Rather than letting that lower rating persist, CMS opted to completely suppress the Staffing star rating for those communities, and instead is displaying “Rating Not Available” through September, 2020.

Quality Rating

CMS waived the requirement to complete and submit timely resident assessment information, given the concern that the assessment results could be impacted by the residents’ reaction to changes imposed by the public health emergency. As a result, CMS continued to update Quality star ratings based on data through December 31, 2019, but then paused. It is not updating Quality star ratings for data collected after January 1, 2020.

More specifically, according to the Five-Star Quality Rating System Technical Users’ Guide, issued by CMS in July, 2020: “The MDS-based QMs will continue to cover 2019Q1 – 2019Q4. Four of the claims-based measures (long-stay and short-stay hospitalizations and ED visits) will be updated and will cover the time period January 1 – December 31, 2019. The short-stay QM, rate of successful return to home and community, will continue to cover October 1, 2016 – September 30, 2018.”

Health Inspection Rating

The Health Inspection star rating is based on inspections conducted up to and including March 3, 2020, but will not be updated to include data collected after that. Results of health inspections conducted on or after March 4, 2020, will be posted publicly through a link on the front page of the Nursing Home Compare website, but will not be used to calculate a nursing home’s Health Inspection star rating.  CMS will communicate changes prior to when  normal updates of Health Inspection ratings resume.

In March, 2020 CMS announced a new targeted inspection plan related to keeping patients safe from COVID-19, to commence on March 4. These targeted inspections focused on threats to patient safety and infection control, an attempt to identify situations of “immediate jeopardy.” This resulted in an increase in the number of facilities inspected, and the nature of the inspections, but it also led to a disruption in normal health inspection schedules. As a result, CMS paused updates to the Health Inspection star rating during the pandemic.

About RCare

RCare is a global provider of nurse call systems for the entire spectrum of eldercare and senior living. Our mission is to improve the lives of elders and those who care for them. Our innovations are designed with the resident at the center, while providing helpful and user-friendly technologies that make the environment more comfortable and pleasant–and that ultimately lead to better outcomes.

With RCare’s reporting tools, you can measure important information about calls, such as call volume, frequent callers, and response times, to help you improve the experience of elders and their families, and staff work loads. For communities with multiple facilities, Enterprise RMetrix provides a dashboard that makes it easy to compare facilities on key metrics, by day, month or quarter. RCare gives administrators the kind of reporting that turns data into insight, and insight into action.

Every community is different, and RCare takes the time to understand the unique resident needs, caregiving process, and other issues, to build customized solutions that last.

Disaster Planning and Your Nurse Call Systems – 5 Tips for Success

Disaster Planning and Your Nurse Call Systems – 5 Tips for Success

If this year has taught us anything, it’s that anything can happen – wildfires, hurricanes, and even global pandemics. And the year is only half over. “Be prepared” is not just a motto for scouting. Knock on wood, your community or healthcare facility won’t need to evacuate suddenly, or to expand quickly to handle a surge in patients. But it never hurts to be prepared, to be ready to protect your residents and to make sure operations and care can return to normal as quickly as possible. In fact, Federal law requires that Medicare and Medicaid-certified facilities have written plans and procedures to meet all potential emergencies.

If you haven’t been thinking about your community’s emergency preparation plan, let the events of this year be the nudge you needed to get started. And as you’re creating your plan, here are five helpful tips to make your plan more effective.

Disaster Planning Tips

  1. Data Backup: Start by assuming that every technology system in use in your facility is built on a database that stores important data, such as patient information and incident information. If you were to lose your system to a disaster, would you lose all your data history? Your answer should be no. All data for all your systems should be backed up regularly and stored safely offsite, to be ready for you should you need it.
  1. Data Restore: Just as important as backing up the data is restoring it. If faced with a hardware or system failure for any reason, can you restore and make use of your data again? It’s important to schedule periodic tests to be sure that backups have been done successfully, with no data corruption, that restored data is accessible, usable, and that you are able to restore the data  and resume operations quickly.
  1. Hardware Backup: With your data safely secured, it’s important to have a plan for replacing your hardware quickly. whether it’s due to a normal hardware failure, or a flood or fire or other disaster. Be sure to have a source for the equipment that can ship quickly. In the midst of an emergency, you can’t be waiting weeks for back-ordered equipment. Be sure your plan includes a complete list of critical hardware to replace. And be sure that your systems, and your backed up system data, are compatible with your new replacement equipment.
  1. Peripherals: In addition to the system server, many systems have peripheral devices used by caregivers such as printers, phones, and monitor screens, as well as resident or patient devices, such as pendants and pull cords. When you’re recovering from an equipment failure, the biggest time investment will likely be inputting the settings for the peripherals, to reconnect them to the system. Strategize now about the best way to input or restore device settings as efficiently as possible, to get the system back to work. At the minimum, keep a hard copy of your plans and settings, and store it safely to be sure it’s available should it be necessary to rebuild your systems. Better yet, can the settings be backed up and restored like other data? Whatever you decide, don’t overlook this critical piece of your recovery plan.
  1. Temporary Solutions: Another consideration is having a stop-gap solution that you can swap into place in the short-term, while you wait for your systems to be restored to their normal functioning. Even in a crisis, your residents need to be equipped with an emergency call device. If you need to relocate your operations to another facility, or to expand temporarily into another location, a portable or stripped down system may be necessary to help you continue to provide care.

If this year has taught us anything, it’s that anything can happen.

How RCare can Help

RCare is a global provider of wireless nurse call and personal emergency response systems for the entire spectrum of eldercare and senior living. We’ve given a lot of thought to disaster preparation and recovery, because we know your call light system is critically important for the health and safety of your residents.

Rapid Deployment Kit – Portable Nurse Call System

Our Rapid Deployment Kit is a portable nurse call systems in a box, designed to be installed quickly, even outside of normal healthcare environments. It’s a temporary nurse call solution that has been employed nationwide by health systems to create temporary field hospitals to care for the surge of COVID patients. It’s quick to deploy, quick to take down, and easy to store. And it can help you be prepared in the event of an emergency. Learn more about RCare’s Rapid Deployment Kit.

Data Backup and Disaster Recovery Service for RCare’s Nurse Call Systems

RCare’s Data Backup and Disaster Recovery service minimizes disruption of service and recovery costs for our clients. It provides regular software backups, with data securely stored offsite. It also provides hardware protection, with a quick replacement of your RCare nurse call system hardware, no matter what the reason, with the replacement guaranteed to be compatible. System and device settings are also backed up, so that peripherals can be put back into use quickly and reliably. Learn more about RCare’s Data Backup and Disaster Recovery Program.

You can count on RCare every day to provide excellent, reliable nurse call capabilities for your community. And when the chips are down, you can count on RCare to help you provide the best possible care.

Find out more about how RCare’s Data Backup and Disaster Recovery Service and RCare’s Rapid Deployment Kit can help you protect your organization.

RCare Reporting: The Best Just Got Better

RCare Reporting: The Best Just Got Better

RCare's RMetrix v2You’ve seen the advantages of RCare’s big-time native reporting and analytics. RMetrix, the free reporting package included with all RCare Nurse Call platforms, gives you the information and call analytics you need by person, by shift, or by group. With it, you can increase efficiencies, identify trends, and improve the quality of care.

And now it just got better.

We have recognized the changing needs of our clients and we used that information to completely overhaul our reporting, customized to your needs. Introducing RMetrix v2, a revamped RCare reporting technology providing the most modern, scalable, and customizable reporting and analytics for senior housing communities with one or more sites. Here’s what’s new:

Multiple Output Formats

Output reports in your choice of format:

  • Display them on screen
  • Download them as PDFs
  • Export them as .csv files

Pre-scheduled delivery, or on-demand:

You can choose to receive the reports in scheduled emails, or get them on demand whenever you want them.

Built-in Reports:

RCare RMetrix reportingOur comprehensive list of built-in, pre-designed reports gives you many choices for what information to get and how. You can use filters like date, group, incident outcome, and more.

  • ADLs by Individual Residents
  • Calls by Hour
  • Incident List
  • Resident List
  • Call Distribution Across Multiple Shifts
  • Incident Exceptions
  • Longest Response Times
  • Frequent Resident Callers
  • Check-In Report
  • and so much more…

Plus, you will receive additional built-in reports with future updates. Completely free.

Customizable:

Our new reporting engine also includes a Report Designer. If you don’t see exactly what you’re looking for in our extensive list of built-in reports, you can tailor your own report. Don’t have time to write your own custom reports? That’s okay, too. RCare’s team can create made-to-order reports for you, giving you full-service, custom-built reporting for a low added fee.

But wait, there’s more…

  • Built-in graphs for easy trend analysis
  • Professional, branded report output

Now shipping:

This new reporting is a part of all RCare installations, and it’s shipping now. It’s just one more reason to switch to RCare’s comprehensive emergency nurse call and monitoring technology.

Are you already an RCare client? Contact your RCare Trusted Integrator to request an upgrade.

RCare’s reporting was already the most versatile and easy-to-use in the industry. And it just got even better.

RCare Earns Rochester Health Care Hero Award

RCare Earns Rochester Health Care Hero Award

The Rochester Business Journal (RBJ) announced that RCare’s CEO, Myron Kowal, has been selected as a 2020 recipient of the Health Care Hero award. This annual award celebrates and recognizes excellence, promotes innovation, and honors the efforts of organizations and individuals making a significant impact on the quality of healthcare in the Rochester area.

RCare’s Kowal is being recognized as a COVID-19 Hero, a special category created this year to honor individuals and organizations making exceptional efforts to help fight the COVID-19 health crisis and address the unique health care needs caused by the pandemic.

Headquartered in Webster, NY, RCare manufactures wireless nurse call and emergency monitoring systems for long-term care and senior housing communities. During the early days of COVID infections, RCare saw an unmet challenge. As cases were surging and hospitals were reaching capacity, providers were forced to create makeshift triage areas, tents in parking lots as well as full-scale temporary hospitals. These temporary solutions were missing the high-quality, reliable nurse call systems that play an integral role in safe patient care.

RCare’s response was to create a portable, durable, wireless nurse call system, a simple solution that could be set up quickly and easily, particularly in non-traditional patient settings. This special nurse call system, called the RCare Rapid Deployment Kit (RDK), is a nurse call system in a box. It’s completely plug and play, so it can be installed in minutes, even in non-standard settings that may lack traditional infrastructure, while providing the reliability of a hospital-grade nurse call solution. The kit provides effective, reliable nurse call communications between patients and caregivers, or between equipment (such as ventilators) and caregivers, even in non-healthcare, field operation environments.

Nurse Call Systems

Through the initial wave of infections, the RDK was installed in field hospitals throughout the country. One example is UMass Memorial Hospital, which created a 216-bed “pop-up” hospital in the 50,000 square foot Exhibit Hall of the DCU Center in Worcester, MA, to handle their patient overflow.

The DCU Center is an indoor arena and convention center in downtown Worcester. In April, its Exhibition Hall was converted to a field hospital to help nearby UMass Memorial Hospital handle the overflow of COVID-19 patients, those sick enough to require hospitalization, but not ICU care or a ventilator. The center was repurposed to act as both a field hospital led by UMass, and a shelter for homeless people who were positive for COVID-19. The installation was quick, smooth, and successful.

The hospital was created in a 50,000 square foot exhibition hall with cube-type barriers separating patient spaces. Nothing about the setting was traditional. Nothing could be permanently mounted. The server was placed behind folding tables that nurses used for charting, on a box, with the paging encoder on top of it. Locators were hung on centrally-located poles with tie wraps. The server and paging encoder were plugged into a network switch with a patch cable. Pendants were given to the staff for distribution to patients as they were admitted.

Sean Grady, Unit Director for UMass Memorial said this about the installation: “The RCare rollout was probably the best of any vendor rollout involved with the DCU project. From project management to technical install, it could not have gone any more smoothly. I can tell you that the nurse call system has worked great for us at the field hospital we have set up in Worcester.”

The installation happened very quickly, despite the tight schedule and chaotic environment. The goal was to complete the entire hospital in just ten days. In fact, UMass smashed the goal and completed the project in only 8 days. Even as the nurse call system was being installed, the IT department was setting up computers and networking infrastructure, Pharmacy was loading Picsys machines, Biomed was setting up their equipment, contractors were running the O2 infrastructure, and news crews were there documenting the whole thing.

RCare's Rapid Deployment Kit and RCare's CEO Myron Kowal

RCare’s founder and CEO Myron Kowal and the Rapid Deployment Kit

The RDK nurse call system includes a touchscreen server, one pendant for each patient, and four pagers. No internet connection is needed for the system, and no phone lines. The system is preprogrammed by the integrator, to be ready to use right out of the box. This capability is mission critical for overworked clinical staff who have neither the time nor the technical expertise to spend on installation. Each kit is designed for 40 patients, although expansion kits allow it to be used for many more. As easily as it is installed, the RDK can be uninstalled when the hospitals are no longer needed, and redeployed if needed again.

RCare’s founder and CEO Myron Kowal will be accepting the award at an exclusive virtual  awards ceremony at noon on August 24.

Learn more about the RCare Rapid Deployment Kit.
Find out more about the RBJ Health Care Hero Award.

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