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H.U.S.H. Campaign for a Healing Environment
March 1, 2010
“H.U.S.H.” has become the magic word at Penobscot Valley Hospital in Lincoln, and the hospital’s new campaign to promote healing and increase patient comfort is making a difference. “H.U.S.H.” stands for Help Us Support Healing, and it’s the winning slogan for the hospital-wide effort to diminish excessive noise. “We ran a contest for a slogan for our quietness campaign,” says Nursing Director Melissa Pelkey. “We had some great responses from staff, and the winner was Sandra Tolman with the acronym H.U.S.H.”
A 2007 study by the Center of Health Design at Texas A & M University showed that noise can have an adverse affect on patient healing and that hospitals can be extremely noisy places. The study showed that peak noise levels can result in sleep loss, elevated blood pressure, exhaustion, and longer hospitalizations. Noise can also have negative effects on caregivers, leading to increased fatigue, difficulty with communication, increased stress, and quicker burnout. In short, noise is a harmful agent in the ongoing pursuit of providing quality healthcare.
The concept of “H.U.S.H.” is simple: improve patient care and overall satisfaction by implementing various noise reduction measures around the hospital. A hospital committee is currently working to improve the noise levels at PVH, and signs have been posted in the waiting areas of the building and in staff lounges reminding everyone to keep the noise down to a minimum. The committee also came up with other creative ideas such as putting the slogan on hospital computers to remind staff of the importance of quietness in the healing process and developing buttons that can be worn by staff to promote the program.
Individual departments are also considering what they can do to help. For instance, the PVH Maintenance Department recently oiled the wheels on carts, and squeaky doors are being fixed. Nurses are using a timer available on their computers and beepers to make sure they reach IV pumps prior to them beeping in a patient’s room. Emergency Room personnel are trying out a new kind of headset to decrease the amount of overhead paging in the building. Through the committee’s plans, staff will also be encouraged to wear soft-soled dress shoes to decrease the walking noise in the hallways.
Penobscot Valley Hospital is hoping that the “H.U.S.H.” campaign will help increase patient satisfaction and patient comfort as well as improving the work environment for hospital staff. Pelkey says, “In the end, the improvements could not only lead to happier patients but better healthcare and quicker healing.”