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Shanna Muschik
smuschik@adventisthealthcare.com
301-315-3227

Published on July 11, 2007

News Release

Global Positioning Systems Helping Adventist Home Health Improve Access to Care

Nurse inspires use of navigational devices to reach patients in growing gridlocked communities

Increasing traffic congestion has led many businesses in the Washington, D.C. metro area to adopt telecommuting or flexible scheduling policies in an effort to combat low productivity and employee retention rates. While such policies work for employees commuting to and from the office, they aren’t an option for employees like Silver Spring resident, Sunny Choi.

Choi’s job as a home health nurse requires her to travel to at least five patients’ homes each day.  With her patients’ homes scattered all throughout Montgomery County and parts of Prince George’s County, she relies on a Global Positioning System (GPS) to help her with the challenges of navigating unfamiliar, congested roadways and reaching her appointments on time.

“It’s like my security blanket,” said Choi, 56,  whose traffic woes inspired her employer, Adventist Home Health, to make navigational devices available to its employees as part of a purchase cost-sharing program.  Under the program, field employees are offered a $317 navigational device at about half the cost ($150) and full ownership following one year of employment.

“We had been exploring the idea of making GPS available to our employees for sometime. An employee survey we conducted in the fall of 2006 revealed that a number of our employees had already purchased GPS and loved it. However, it was Sunny’s personal testimony and request for a cost-sharing program that convinced us there was a real need for a program,” said Keith Ballenger, vice president of Adventist Home Health Services.

A veteran nurse with more than 30 years of experience, Choi left the hospital setting a year ago with the hope of finding an easier, more flexible schedule in home health care.  What she didn’t anticipate was the challenge of trying to find and reach her patients.

Not accustomed to traveling more than one route a day, Choi said she struggled to navigate the heavily congested roadways to reach her home bound patients. She found herself frequently lost and on the phone with her manager for direction. Following a particularly anxious ordeal in which she found herself lost for two hours in heavy traffic, she attended a January 2007 meeting for new employees in which she shared her experience and asked Adventist Home Health to help with the cost of purchasing a GPS device.

“I was really scared to go out. I always hesitated when accepting new patients in places I didn’t know,” said Choi, who admitted to scouting out her assignments on the weekend.  “Since I got the GPS, I really feel confident.”

Choi finds a navigational device does more than help her find her way. It is also helping her save time on regularly scheduled visits. She said she is now averaging 38 minutes instead of 45 minutes per visit using the device’s features, which include alternative route finding and nearest gas station locator.

“The goal of the program was to relieve a major anxiety for our staff and to make their day more manageable, which I believe we have achieved,” said Ballenger.

Adventist Home Health has existed since 1973 to help patients recover and function as independently as possible in their homes. Today, Adventist Home Health’s team of skilled nurses, therapists and social workers deliver comprehensive services with compassionate care to homes throughout Montgomery, Prince George’s, St. Mary’s, Charles, Calvert and Howard counties. Adventist Home Health’s services include specialized care for cardiac patients, new mothers, babies and children.

As a member of Adventist HealthCare, Adventist Home Health is also part of a large network of health care providers including Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, Washington Adventist Hospital, Adventist HealthCare Senior Living Services and a number of other specialized health care organizations offering additional expertise and services.

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