Quiet is Good Medicine

Remember being sick as a child? What was the one thing you constantly heard from your parent or doctor?

“Drink plenty of fluids and get lots of quiet rest.”

Hmm, maybe mom was right about that one.

Quiet rest is an essential part of the healing process. But, if you’re in the hospital and it’s noisy, that healing may not take place. We’ve recognized this and are working – quietly – to address it.

How Loud is Loud?
The World Health Organization has recommended that hospital noise levels should not exceed 30 decibels for that same reason. Noise levels in excess of this guideline are believed to disturb sleep, increase blood pressure, contribute to stress, interfere with communication and delay the healing process.

Studies have shown that average noise levels within a hospital can range from 53 to 117 decibels. To put those numbers in perspective, a vacuum cleans at 70 decibels, a lawn mower cuts grass at 90 decibels and a garbage truck hauls away waste at 100 decibels. Imagine trying to rest with sounds as loud as a vacuum in your room and a garbage truck going up and down the hall. Not very restful, is it?

What We’re Doing
hosp public
We are committed to lowering the noise levels patients are subjected to while receiving care at Altru. Here are just a few of the changes we’re making for you and your family:

»     By 2014, all of our semi-private rooms will be converted to private rooms.

»     Quiet items, including ear plugs and eye masks, are available.

»     Television speakers have been replaced with pillow speakers and headphones.

»     Patient doors are kept closed to eliminate hallway noise.

»     Patients are asked when and how many visitors they want in their rooms.

»     Quiet time is set aside each afternoon to ensure a quiet rest time.

»     Hourly rounding now takes place to better meet patients’ immediate needs.

»     Shift reports are conducted in patient rooms to ensure our patients’ involvement in their care and to honor their wishes.

»     Equipment alarms have been turned down and are now linked to nurses’ stations.

»     Overhead paging has been reduced within the hospital. 

How You Can Help
While there are quite a few things we can do to provide a quieter healing environment, we’re also asking for your help. Please keep these things in mind when visiting the hospital:

»     Use inside voices.

»     Put cell phones on vibrate.

»     Use waiting rooms to make or take phone calls.

»     Keep television and radio volumes low.

»     Be respectful of patient’s wishes with regard to how many people can visit at one time, and when.

»     Let staff know if it is too noisy.

We recognize and believe that contact with family members and friends is an integral part of patient care and healing. You are welcome to visit, but please remain respectful of all our patients’ need for a quiet healing environment.

Together, we can make a difference for our family and friends. Thank you for helping us maintain a quiet, healing environment.

What additional suggestions do you have to make the patient experience quieter at Altru? We’d love to hear your ideas

KerryAs Altru’s Administrative Director of Medical Specialty Care, Kerry Carlson provides strategic support and leadership for Altru Cancer Center, inpatient Hospitalist services, a variety of outpatient programs and many of our specialties within Altru Main Clinic. In his free time, you can find Kerry trying to maintain a quiet environment at home with his 14- and 17-year-old children.