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Pagers for patients at Hematology/Oncology Clinic

Toronto, December 31, 2015

By Jordyn Gibson

Regina Surotkosicz receives a pager from Aleisa Smith
Patient Regina Surotkosicz receives a pager from clerical assistant Aleisa Smith at the Hematology/Oncology Clinic, which is using pagers to let patients know when it’s time to receive care. (Photo by Yuri Markarov)

Charmaine Mothersill, the clinical leader manager of the Hematology/Oncology Clinic, was at a restaurant one night when she was handed a round disc that vibrated and lit up when her table was ready.

It occurred to her that pagers could solve more than just long lineups at restaurants. Perhaps they could also make a difference in St. Michael’s busy Hematology/Oncology Clinic to alert patients when it’s time for them to receive care, she thought.

When patients check in at the registration desk, they now receive a number and a device the size of a smart phone that lights up and vibrates when it is each patient’s turn to see a health-care provider. The devices’ signal reaches anywhere within the hospital. At the same time, a screen in the waiting area displays a patient’s number.

Previously, nurses had to step out into the hallway and call patients’ names. Mispronunciations were frequent. Language barriers caused misunderstandings. Patients would go to the bathroom, or get something to eat, and missed hearing their names called. It could often take multiple attempts before the patient realized he or she was being called.

“It would get really busy and loud,” said Mothersill.

The new system is better for those who are seeing or hearing impaired, or those who aren’t able to communicate in English, she said.

Mothersill said it also “reduces patient anxiety. They can go and get themselves something to eat, go for a walk or use the bathroom without worrying they might lose their place in line.”

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.