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LA LGBT Center | Los Angeles

Enhancing staff safety in a 800-employee hospital with a simplified, real-time solution

Macro environment of Workplace Safety

 

Ensuring workplace safety has become a priority as more employers recognize the importance of well-being among employees. Both statistics and anecdotal evidence suggest that incidents of workplace violence are on the rise, particular in certain industries like healthcare, and mitigating its effects has taken center stage.

 

The numbers speak for themselves. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare workers account for 73% of all nonfatal workplace injuries due to violence. They are also five times more likely to suffer an injury from workplace violence than the average worker. These are the kind of numbers that can make potential employees think twice about entering the field or even change careers if they’ve already started. Many healthcare professionals decide that the daily stress simply isn’t worth it.

 

McKinsey reports that ‘as of March 2023, 45 percent of inpatient nurses (who make up about 2.0 million of the 4.2 million nurses in the United States) say they are likely to leave their role in the next six months. Among those who reported an intent to leave, one of the top reasons cited was not feeling valued by their organization.’ Health systems unintentionally instill the feeling of undervaluing nurses by doing very little to protect them from the dangers of physical violence in frontline patient care activities. Mckinsey further reports that ‘estimates suggest a potential shortage of 200,000 to 450,000 nurses in the United States, with acute-care settings likely to be most affected. Identifying opportunities to close this gap remains a priority in the healthcare industry.’

 

Workplace violence can cause long term damage to the physical and mental state of nurses and their surroundings, a cost that cannot be measured in dollars. However, even strictly looking at the financial setback such events can lead to is staggering. In addition to workman’s comp, there is the cost of backfilling an injured nurse for the time they are unable to work with temporary nurses  at 2 to 3x of the hourly rate of the FTE. Hiring new nurses to address high turnovers can cost as much as $50K per hire when you consider the spend involved with search for talent and the initial training that goes in ramping up their skills to match that of the organization’s standards. This could result in $0.5M to $3M additional costs for an average 200 bed health facility on an annual basis.

 

Fortunately, forward thinking organizations like the Los Angeles LGBT Center was one of the many organizations that was proactive in addressing the topic of how to implement the safety measures needed to protect staff, visitors, and others on their premises.

 

 

Introducing the LA LGBT Center

 

The Los Angeles LGBT Center is committed to providing support and resources for the LGBT community from its eight locations spread across the city. As with any enterprise of this size and magnitude, the Center has its fair share of operational concerns.

 

With approximately 800 employees across those eight different buildings, the Center employs professionals from various backgrounds and fields of expertise. The staff’s roles differ depending on the building, ranging from healthcare providers, including nurses and clinicians, to administrative personnel, development teams, and youth services.

 

Providing medical attention, youth activities, senior services, legal assistance, and more means lots of daily interactions with the public, including unfortunate incidents when staff members occasionally face verbal or physical abuse from clients.

 

The Center has long recognized the importance of ensuring a safe working environment for its staff members, especially those involved with healthcare delivery, where statistics clearly show that the risk of violent encounters is significantly higher.

 

Kernel Thomas, Director of IT Infrastructure and Security at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, has played a key role in helping to ensure a safe working environment for its staff and prompt responses to emergency situations. He joined us recently for a webinar to discuss the journey that the Center has undertaken in its quest to provide a digital safety network for employees, clients, and visitors while facilitating the organization’s workflow and overall efficiency.

 

 

Challenge

 

Thomas’ role at the Los Angeles LGBT Center includes day-to-day operations, help desk support, infrastructure management, IT security, system evaluation, and selection. As the Center operates across multiple buildings, each with unique layouts and purposes, the IT team ensures that all departments, including healthcare services, senior services, and others, have the necessary support.

 

The size and complexity of the Center influenced early choices about what kind of physical security measures to adopt. The Center is composed of buildings with different configurations. Some buildings have four floors, some two, and others just one. Some have open spaces while others make use of closed-door cubicles.

 

The center’s previous physical security measures came with limitations that hindered scalability and integration with the organization’s evolving infrastructure.

 

“The problem with the (previous) system was it was highly uncustomizable. It wasn’t flexible,” Thomas explains. “We couldn’t extend it to the other buildings. When we changed to a new VoIP system, it didn’t integrate well. We were stuck with just the wireless (two-way radios) system. And then when we tried to work with the company to say that we wanted to expand it to other buildings, we were told that we had to run some type of proprietary Radio Frequency system in the building and it became very expensive.”

 

Thomas and the management of the Center discovered that siloed infrastructures invariably result in higher complexity and costs. Each new improvement or change in one area necessitated more expenses and complexity in another to keep them compatible with one another.

 

An analysis of just how much it was costing led the Center to look for a solution that could easily integrate with others, especially the IT infrastructure that was already in place, and allow for future growth and changes.

 

 

Solution

 

Working with Kontakt.io marked a turning point in the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s efforts to enhance workplace safety and resolve the technical challenges that came with it.

 

Thomas says that the part of Kontakt.io’s offer that impressed him most was the inclusion of wireless infrastructure.. With other providers, provisioning panic buttons meant the extra hassle of pulling data and/or power cables increasing installation-related expenses associated with connecting every room in a large facility.

 

Secondly, as an IT systems leader, Kernel understood the pain of proprietary networks and communications protocols that would never scale to other use cases. Kernel valued the use of Bluetooth Low Energy standards in Kontakt.io panic buttons that ensured compatibility with a wide range of applications and hardware for future expansions into other areas of the Internet of Things. He recognized that facilities management hardware continues to get smarter and connected and having a baseline IoT infrastructure that can be expanded to communicate with other smart sensors will yield unlimited ROI in the future.

 

On top of that, while Kontakt.io panic buttons are designed to be wearable, Thomas and his team quickly realized the importance of their mobility and versatility. In addition to being carried around by staff members, they  were also able to hide them under the desks for an added layer of protection for staff members not normally involved in patient interactions (housekeeping services, for example).

 

Lastly, with Kontakt.io, Thomas no longer felt pigeonholed with only one way of communicating real-time alerts to his responders. Now he had the option to generate mass notifications via multiple modalities like VOIP phone calls/messages, PA announcements, email, SMS, mobile app notifications and even light and buzzer with out-of-the-box open APIs built into the platform. This opened up a layer of flexibility that other options on the market did not provide.

 

Thomas and other stakeholders at the Center were convinced that this was the solution they needed to extend a level of physical security to their staff, no matter where they were while at work. A rollout was planned in one of the Center’s buildings to test everything out.

 

That initial limited deployment was enough to get Thomas and his staff trained and experimenting on their own and working in all of their buildings, each customized with the kinds of alerts preferred by those in each location.

 

 

Benefit

 

Thomas was happy with the new solution, but what about the staff who had to use it? What about their reaction to another change in the way the Los Angeles LGBT Center provided security for those on its property?

 

No matter the technological advances behind them, new technological deployments depend on adoption by the people who will use them. In the case of the Center, after taking the time they needed to become familiar with it, the new system experienced a positive response from staff members.

 

Although some employees initially needed time to adjust to the simplified one-button system, they soon recognized the ease of use and appreciated the improved speed and efficiency in alerting security personnel. Moreover, the customizable options for panic button placement, including the hidden desk option, offered staff members greater convenience and peace of mind.

 

When the full deployment went live across all of the Center’s properties, Thomas says, the staff had more confidence in using it and more trust that it would work to keep them safe. The confusion and disappointment associated with the old system was replaced by confidence in a new network that could be relied on. At the end of the day, the staff felt more valued by their organization enabling them to continue doing the amazing work for their community with confidence and peace of mind.

 

“With this new system, all (stakeholders in different facilities) had to do was mention that they  wanted the same system that one of the other buildings had for safety. It was a great feeling that I could tell them that we have a system already. Just let me know what you would like and how you would like it to work and we’ll get it rolled out. And we were able to roll it out within a week, which was great. Whereas the other company we were dealing with before, it would have taken much longer.”

 

 

Learn more about the LA LGBT Center’s digital journey (and your own)

 

Kontakt.io’s solution meets the Center’s needs by providing a reliable, cost-effective answer to the challenge of enhancing security across multiple locations and facility types.

 

Now liberated from siloed solutions, they instead enjoy the benefits of an easily integrated open system where information flows freely and the digital door is always kept open for future growth.

 

If you’re thinking of implementing the same kind of deployment that serves the Center so well, bringing the staff peace of mind and the freedom to concentrate on their jobs while improving the employee experience, talk to us today.

If you want to learn more about the LA LGBT Center’s experience with enhancing safety through digital transformation, you can watch the full webinar here: