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Bluewater Health says it will upgrade of the telecommunication systems at Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital (CEEH) with 30 new Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) telephones.
The system, which costs $130,000, will be operational by Dec. 13, and is expected to deliver improved call quality, consistent service, and standardized efficient processes for patients and staff across Bluewater Health.
Under the new service, all inpatients will have a private extension instead of the present system where one line rings all bedside phones within a ward.
Patients are also expected to have more timely registration as staff will have fewer interruptions due to telephone calls.
Callers will continue to call CEEH of Bluewater Health at 519-882-4325.
The auto-attendant is unchanged. It allows the caller to dial a known extension directly, or if the extension is unknown, to press 0 for assistance from the switchboard operator who transfers the call to the appropriate department or patient room.
Telephone numbers published publicly in Canpages and Bell telephone directories are unchanged. In addition, a list of departments most frequently called appears on Bluewater Health’s website at www.bluewaterhealth.ca under Contact Us, and in Bluewater Health’s Patient & Family Guide, available at the hospitals or on the website under Patient & Visitor Information.
With the changes to the telecommunication system, staff will have access to new telephone functions not previously available, including an internal telephone directory on each phone so access to information is readily available at their fingertips.
Additional emergency phones will be installed at nursing stations, the Emergency Department, Laboratory and Diagnostic Imaging to provide emergency service around the clock, 365 days a year, should the system for whatever reason be unavailable.
Registration staff, who formerly also handled in-bound telephone calls, will focus on registering patients rather than handling routine telephone calls.
During staff orientation to the new system, both the old and the new systems will be available in parallel to allow time to adapt to the new phone features.
Staff will continue to be able to announce overhead pages as required in emergency situations.
Staff has provided positive feedback on the new telephone features such as shared extensions between hospitals and easy access to the new telephone directory.
The new technology allows all telephone calls to hospitals in Sarnia and Petrolia to be handled by the central state-of-the-art switchboard located at Sarnia. Sarnia staff has already been providing telephone call coverage for CEEH of Bluewater Health since June 2010, when they began taking calls from 11:00 pm to 7:00 am and during staff breaks.
Outdated switchboard technology will not be replaced at CEEH of Bluewater Health. The money saved by cost avoidance will remain in Petrolia to help improve the patient registration area and allow more privacy and comfort.
A recent audit shows that daily telephone volumes at Bluewater Health in Sarnia are over 1,000 per day and at CEEH of Bluewater Health there are on average 160 in-bound or out-bound calls per day. Peak call volume is between 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, weekdays.
Central switchboard functionality is normal in organizations including hospitals with multiple locations/facilities.
Karen Waymouth, Integrated Director of Health Information Management and Chief Privacy Officer at Bluewater Health, says, “The telecommunications upgrade at CEEH of Bluewater Health is an important investment of $130,000 and its implementation is focused on patients and families. With modern technology we can optimize opportunities and standardize processes across our hospitals to deliver on our commitment to exemplary customer service and efficient operations.”