Researchers and hospital team up to increase patient mobility - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Researchers and hospital team up to increase patient mobility

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Little walks around the halls at UW Hospital are making a big difference for patients and staff.  Staff members have teamed up with UW researchers to make sure when older adult patients have to stay in the hospital for awhile, they don't leave less mobile than they come in. 

"It seems so simple -- walk a patient," says Barbara King, an assistant professor at UW Madison's School of Nursing.  "But so many things get in the way."  King and her colleague Linsey Steege, also an assistant professor at UW Madison's School of Nursing, researched this effort.  The identified what was holding nurses back from ambulating patients more often and found it was a combination of lack of resources including lack of awareness, confidence, record, communication and time. 

"It's different from a lot of what we do in health care, which is just try to come in and add something or come up with a new, better mousetrap without really fixing the underlying problem in the system," says Steege. 

The hospital was able to hire a full-time ambulation aide for the unit where King and Steege's research was put into action.  The aide helps make time and prioritize walking to other nurses for patients. 

To gauge how far the patients are walking, staff keeps a record of daily distances and sets goals using artwork around the halls featuring different landmarks that they call "walk around Wisconsin."  "We really use those as landmarks for patients and nurses to say, well let's make it to Camp Randall this time." 

The exercise has shown to be mutually beneficial.  "It's also adding value to the patient and the staff experience, and it's really increasing the staff satisfaction also," says Katie Winsor, the nurse manager on the unit. 

King and Steege are now working on funding to get a similar ambulation aide position at other hospitals in the area. 

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