Waiting to see grandma: Plan will improve access to Rock Haven

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Wednesday, September 11, 2013

JANESVILLE—“Safety first” seems like a concept everyone can agree with.

But when safety runs into convenience, choices have to be made.

At a Rock County Board Health Care Committee meeting Wednesday, Rock Haven Administrator Sue Prostko explained changes in procedure that will make it easier for family members and caregivers to get into the county-run nursing home without compromising the safety of residents.

The new building, which opened to residents in May, has a main entrance and  “neighborhoods” with their own entrances.

Because the footprint of the building is so large, family members and caregivers are encouraged to park closest to the household they're visiting, and buzz to gain entrance to the building.

“If a nurse is walking with two residents, she can't leave them there to go answer the door,” Prostko said.

As a result, visitors have to wait, sometimes for a considerable period of time, to be let in.

One hospice care worker reported waiting 30 minutes before someone came to the door. She declined to be identified for fear it would damage her employment status.

The doors are kept locked to protect residents who might be inclined to wander and to monitor who is coming into the building.

Prostko said she recognized the problem.

A new system will allow visitors to buzz themselves in. The system will keep the doors open for about 14 seconds. Cameras, which were already installed in the entryways, will allow staff at the nurses' station to see who is coming into the building.

Why not have a staff person at the nurses station answer the door?

“We want to free the staff time for patient care,” Prostko said.

In addition, that staff person also has to monitor his or her work area for calls from residents.

To leave the building, family members will be given electronic pass cards to swipe to unlock the doors. They will keep the cards.

The building was not set up for electronic pass cards to be used to enter the building, Prostko said.

All the doors automatically unlock when a smoke or fire alarm is activated, Prostko said.

Also during Wednesday's meeting, Prostko gave the committee some good news.  

While family members might be struggling to get in, it seems that some of the short-term patients would like to stay put.

The average stay for short-term patients is about 22 days.

“Some people like it so much here they don't want to go home,” Prostko said.

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