More than 30 years ago, I was a new nurse graduate on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, one of the largest public health systems in Florida. Back then, Labor and Delivery communicated with the NICU using what we called a “squawk box” that blared throughout the unit to let us know when a baby needed our attention.
In my three decades as a NICU nurse and nurse manager, a lot has changed in the way we communicate and collaborate. Recently, a lot changed for me personally as well, as this month I took on a new challenge as Clinical Solutions Consultant here at Voalte.
What prompted such a big career change after 30 years of walking through the same hospital doors every day?
It started about five years ago. As Clinical Manager of Neonatal Services, I was preparing to relocate our Level III NICU from an old, open-bay unit to 33 private rooms in a new patient tower. The new unit raised all sorts of communication challenges, as we transitioned from face-to-face interaction among nurses in one big room, to monitoring patient alarms and communicating with team members across a much larger geographical area.
That’s when I started working with Trey Lauderdale and the Voalte team, as well as other vendors, to create an integrated alarm-management and communication plan. We needed to provide a safe environment for our patients and ensure our NICU nurses felt secure that they could effectively monitor their babies without being in the same room. (See the case study for more on the Sarasota Memorial NICU.)
Based on the success of our alarm management initiative, my colleague Dana Peco and I were asked to present the results at the Connexall 2014 WorldConnex conference in the Azores, Portugal. Then, last year, Voalte invited me to participate on the alarm-management panel at VUE15, the Voalte User Experience Conference. Those two events were not only exciting for me personally and professionally, but also opened my eyes to the ways I can help other hospitals come up with solutions to the challenges of alarm management and caregiver communication.
I was fortunate to have a job I loved for so many years. I was able to have a positive impact at an important point in people’s lives, and was lucky to work side-by-side with such a talented care team. But as I embrace my new role at Voalte, I’m energized by the opportunity to visit hospitals throughout the country and provide guidance based on my experiences. My first week on the job, I traveled to WakeMed Health & Hospitals in North Carolina, and the following week headed to University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City.
Walking through these new doors, I’m filled with new energy and enthusiasm. Listening to our customers’ needs and goals challenges me to come up with outside-the-box solutions based on my years of real-world nursing experience. If your hospital needs a nurse’s perspective on your communication issues, please contact me. I’d love to schedule a time to meet with you.
Debbie Harman, MSN, RNC, CLC, is Clinical Solutions Consultant at Voalte.