The Sara Steady, one of several new pieces of equipment used in the ICU at Ruby Memorial, earned the highest praise imaginable from one of its frequent users.
 
“You’d think a nurse designed it,” Nadine Frederick, RN, said.
 
The equipment, the result of a three-year partnership with ArjoHuntleigh, is used to aid employees in lifting patients from beds and putting them in position to sit up and, eventually, walk or at least stand erect. WVU Healthcare has invested nearly $1 million in the equipment – and training – for use throughout Ruby, including in the ICU, Rehab Services and all nursing units.
 
The products emphasize the positive effects of early patient mobility, which improves vital bodily functions, such as heart, lungs, circulation, skin and musculoskeletal system. In reducing falls, length of stay, pressure ulcers and injuries, these devices not only provide patients with a better rate of recovery and quality of life, but also create a safer environment for staff.
 
According to information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employees at hospitals suffer injuries and illnesses twice the national average rate. WVU Healthcare Risk Management and Safety Director Roger Osbourn said the organization’s goal in acquiring the lifting equipment is to have a zero percent injury rate.
 
In Rehab Services, the Sara Steady is counted upon daily to support patients and encourage mobility. The hand grips and sling help keep the patient upright and stable. Bill Walter, manager of Rehab Services, said the device is less demanding on patients than the parallel bars that his team typically uses to help them walk. It’s less risky for patient and staff too.
 
“It has changed how we do our work,” Walter said.
 
In some cases, it has profoundly changed patient outcomes.
 
Using ArjoHuntleigh equipment, the specialists at Rehab Services were able to not only transfer an obese, immobile patient from a bed to an upright position but were gradually able to get him moving in a relatively short time span.
 
The Sara Steady helped him progress to walking in two weeks and he was able to continue to rehab with a realistic goal of returning home. Without the device, Walter said, the rehab process would have taken months with no guarantee of success.
 
“I really think it saved his life,” said Jackie Leonard, occupational therapy assistant. “When he came here, he couldn’t even lift his arm or his leg.”
 
The ICU routinely uses a variety of ArjoHuntleigh devices (Sara Plus, Sara Steady, Maxi Move and the Tenor, along with sliding sheets) on a daily basis to transfer, lift and mobilize patients. According to Shanna Watson, RN, a clinical preceptor in the ICU, staff are using the equipment in novel ways to help patients.

An elderly patient who was not ready to walk was lifted into the Sara Steady and wheeled around the unit and surrounding hallways just to break up the monotony of her stay. Watson thinks the ICU staff will continue to find unique, safe ways to use the equipment to improve patients’ quality of life.

The basic functionality of the equipment is in evidence every day in the ICU, according to Frederick.

“In 30 years of nursing, this is one of the nicest pieces of equipment the hospital has ever invested in, for patients and for nurses,” Frederick said.